The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA) said it would conduct an online fact-finding survey to tackle the problem of hospitals forcing trainee physicians to pay cash when starting residency.
The online survey is available at https://goo.gl/KciYkY.
According to complaints reported to KIRA in the past three years, many training hospitals demanded fresh trainee physicians to pay 2 million -5 million won ($1,786-$4,465) of so-called “entry fee” to start residency.
The hospitals used the cash to pay for “books, weekend meals, expenses for dinner gatherings, and participation fees for academic conferences,” according to KIRA.
The malpractice began in the early 2000s when some departments started to become popular among trainees. Now, even when interns try to apply for a residency at an unpopular department, hospitals tend to demand the payment for an entry fee, KIRA said.
“I wouldn’t hold a grudge about paying 4-5 million won for entering a popular department. But I felt miserable because I had to pay some anyway although I applied for an unpopular one,” said an intern, who reported a complaint to KIRA. “I’m thinking whether I should feel it fortunate that I paid a relatively small amount.”
KIRA said the upcoming survey would help it publicize the ill practice and find solutions.
“In common sense, it is difficult to understand why a resident who chooses to get training to become a specialist should forcefully pay money to the hospital,” said Lee Seung-woo, president of KIRA. “It is a shame that such practice is still prevalent.”
Lee said hospitals’ demanding cash from residents could be a violation of the criminal law.
“A resident at a university hospital could be a public servant or a member of teaching staff, who are prohibited from receiving grafts under the anti-corruption law. If a professor uses the entry fee for personal purposes, it could be embezzlement,” he said.
Based on the results of the survey, KIRA would demand the government and academic circles identify the problems and come up with solutions, according to Lee. “KIRA will make a continuous effort to voice for self-reflection in the medical community, after the cleaning-up campaign to eradicate illegal rebates,” he added.
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