About half of medical school students suffer human rights abuses such as insults and sexually discriminative language at least once a month during hospital training, a survey showed.
The Korea Medical Student Association (KMSA) surveyed medical students who received eight-day medical training at a hospital from April 26 and disclosed the results on Tuesday.
A total of 571 medical students across the nation participated in the survey, and 566 gave valid responses.
According to the survey, 160 students, or 28 percent of the respondents, said they had their human rights breached more than once a month and less than four times a month. Another 84 students, or 15 percent, said the suffering was more than once a week and less than three times a week. Twenty-five respondents, or 4 percent, said it was more than three times a week.
The data showed 269 students, or 47 percent, felt that senior instructors did not respect their human rights as trainees at least once a month.
By the type of abuse, insults came on top with 209 victims (50 percent) saying they heard insults during training.
The use of sexually discriminative comments was the second most frequent abuse, with 76 respondents (18.1 percent) recalling them. Profanity came next, with 49 (11.7 percent) experiencing it. Five said they were even assaulted.
The other 297 respondents, or 53 percent, said they put up with human rights abuses less than once a month.
In response to the questionnaire what kind of human rights infringement they had to go through in detail, they said, “Instructors make comments that ignore medical graduate school students,” “I get a sudden notice to attend an academic conference,” “I am forced to attend a dinner with hospital staffs,” and “If I can’t answer their questions, they insult me.”
Other testimonies included that a professor or a nurse forced trainees to do hospital work other than training and that some trainees had to wait for long because the training schedule was not kept.
“We have found many problems in medical training, including a hierarchically oppressive atmosphere, meaningless waiting time, and instructors’ venting of anger on trainees without reason,” KMSA said in a statement. “The survey shows clearly that there is a lack of awareness that trainees are the subject of education and a lack of respect for students in instructors’ language and behavior.”
Kim Jeong-hwa, head of the policy department at KMSA, said the survey demonstrated that there was rarely a system to guarantee the protection of trainee students.
“To make such system, students should actively raise their voice. Starting with the latest survey, we will endeavor to make an environment where medical students can focus on learning,” she added.
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