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Korea has nurses above OECD average, still faces shortage
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2018.08.17 14:08
  • Updated 2018.08.17 14:08
  • comments 0

Korea has more nurses than the OECD average, but the number of working ng fell below the average, due in part to harsh working conditions and low pay.

Korea faces a shortage of working nurses even though the number of total nurses surpasses the OECD average.

According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA) report on the status of medical resources, the number of people with a nursing license working in the field was low here compared to the total number of licensed nurses.

The report pointed out a need to bring authorized personnel back to the field.

“Demand for nursing care is likely to increase due to rapid population aging, the rise of chronic illnesses, and increased demand for nursing care services and home-visit nurse care,” the report said. “In a situation where demand is expected to increase, it is necessary to develop policies to secure appropriate nursing personnel, such as the use of idle workers.”

According to HIRA, there were about 20 nurses for 1,000 people in 2016, indicating Korea has 1.5 times more nurses than the OECD average of 13 people out of 1,000.

The growth rate of licensed personnel also rose at a faster rate of 4 percent from 2010 to 2016 than other developed countries such as the U.S. (1.3 percent) and the U.K. (0.4 percent), as well as the OECD average of 0.8 percent.

However, the actual number of licensed nurses working stood at about six people per 1,000 while the OECD average was about eight people. The U.S. had about seven nurses working per 1,000 people while the U.K. had nine.

The number of working nurses also differed dramatically by region in Korea with Seoul having about 1.3 more nurses than other areas

At tertiary general hospitals, there were about 110 nurses per 100 sickbeds. However, those located outside of Seoul had 95 nurses per 100 beds. General hospitals in Seoul had 74 nurses while hospitals outside of Seoul had 54.

“The uneven regional distribution of medical resources can cause an unbalanced supply of medical service,” a HIRA researcher said. “To ensure accessibility of essential medical services, balanced allocation of medical resources should be considered considering the causes of lack of medical personnel in non-metropolitan areas.”


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