Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: Drese wants to increase the quota of rural doctors

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Schwerin In the fight against the imminent shortage of doctors, especially in the rural regions of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, State Health Minister Stefanie Drese (SPD) is counting on young doctors from her own country and on the support of the universities of Rostock and Greifswald.

Unfortunately, only around 40 percent of the doctors we trained remain in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, said Drese in Schwerin. One way to increase this rate is for more young women and men from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to study medicine in their own country. The hope is that a large number of them will practice in the Northeast after completing their training.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is one of eleven federal states that, through the so-called rural doctor quota, already reserve study places for aspiring doctors who commit to working in disadvantaged rural regions for at least ten years. Since 2021, 32 of the 400 medical study places in Greifswald and Rostock to be allocated annually can be allocated using this quota. There are 150 applications for the winter semester 2024/2025.

According to Drese, the two university medical schools in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania graduate almost twice as many doctors in relation to the population as the national average: there is an average of 2.25 medical students per 1,000 inhabitants in the Northeast, while the national average is 1.26. and in Bavaria just 1.22. For this reason, Drese has in the past rejected calls from the opposition and medical associations to increase the number of study places.

According to the minister, the high intensity of medical training, which is also expensive, should yield more for the country in the future. According to left-wing state parliament member Christian Albrecht, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has to provide around ten million euros annually, with costs of more than 200,000 euros for each medical course and the federal government itself covering some of the costs.

According to Drese, half of admissions to medicine are granted through university selection processes. In addition to the Abitur grade, criteria such as employment in a recognized training profession, previous special training, practical activities or extracurricular qualifications would also be taken into account. According to the minister, this also opens up opportunities for more young people in the country to study medicine, whose grade average alone would not be enough.

According to the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Doctors (KV), around 100 of the more than 1,000 family doctor positions in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are unfilled. However, the situation threatens to worsen significantly because many family doctors will retire in the coming years without having yet found a successor. There is a risk of undersupply in two thirds of the 27 planned regions. According to the KV, 922 family doctor positions were approved in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2022. Furthermore, 214 employed doctors ensure primary care.

To ensure medical care, the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Doctors, state and local authorities provide financial support to branches in affected areas. According to the Ministry of Health, more than 13 million euros have been paid through KV alone in recent years. As probably not all gaps can be filled, collaborations with clinics must be expanded and telemedicine offerings must be expanded, among other things.

Gaps in the healthcare system are also the theme of the 128th German Doctor’s Day in Mainz. The shortage of doctors is no longer a prediction, but has long been a reality in many regions of Germany, as the President of the Federal Medical Association (BK), Klaus Reinhardt, emphasized before the start of the conference.

Around 4,800 general practitioner positions are vacant across the country and there are also staff shortages in hospitals. Additionally, nearly one in four working doctors is 60 or older. Reinhardt calls for tax advantages for doctors to encourage them to continue working past retirement age, given the shortage of doctors. © dpa/

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