“There is a book where senior medical students recorded every information about professors. According to the book, a professor illicitly tells a female student to wear a skirt because it would make his clinical outcome better.”
The surprising comments by a medical student came from in-depth interviews on medical school students and trainee physicians during a debate for improving human rights of medical school students at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea building in Seoul Wednesday.
A woman trainee physician said hospitals prefer male trainees at popular departments such as dermatology, plastic surgery, and psychiatry. “They say who will fill up vacancies if women doctors go on maternity leave. Even a female professor made such comments,” she said.
|Medical workers and experts hold a debate for improving human rights of medical students at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea in Seoul, Wednesday.|
According to a survey on medical students by the Institute for Medicine and Human Rights, a significant number of doctor aspirants experienced human rights violations in medical training.
The institute conducted the poll and in-depth interviews on 1,763 students (1,017 males, 743 females) at 40 medical schools and medical graduate schools across the nation from April to October last year.
Half of the respondents, or 49.5 percent, said they had experienced verbal abuse. Sixty percent said they were forced to attend the dining and drinking session, and dance or sing at such occasions.
Sixteen percent said they received disciplinary punishment in a group and 6.8 percent said they were physically attacked.
When asked if they felt discriminated in educational opportunity because of gender, 15.7 percent of female respondents said “yes,” almost the double the ratio of 8.2 percent of male respondents who said so. Among respondents, 35 percent said they heard there would be restrictions in choosing a department due to their gender or that they were coerced to do particular tasks such as coffee errands.
Some of the students said they were afraid that revealing the issue of gender inequality might hurt their future career. The worse problem was that universities or hospitals did not make an appropriate response, experts said.
“Although medical schools have a counseling center, students should see professors working at the counseling center for the rest of their lives. Even if they report complaints, schools are likely to cover the issue,” said Choi Kyu-jin, a professor at Inha University School of Medicine. Choi who was one of the pollsters.
Choi noted that medical schools rarely have a systematic and practical manual for the punishment of the offender and the protection of the victim.
Kim Seo-young, vice president of the student group of the Korea Medical School Association, emphasized that human rights violation in medical schools and hospitals was not an issue of individuals but the entire medical community. “Students are not consumable items for the development of human rights. We have to fix the problem right now,” she said.
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