Hospitals are still forcing trainee physicians to pay a large amount of cash when starting residency. One medical resident said he spent over 50 million won ($44,501) as an “entry fee.”
The Korean Intern Resident Association (KIRA) on Thursday said its recent survey on trainee physicians revealed that new trainee physicians had to start residency by paying the entry fee. The poll, conducted in December, was on over 500 trainee physicians at over 70 teaching hospitals across the country.
About 37 percent of the respondents said their department had the entry fee culture. Forty-seven percent said they had to pay 1 million won to 10 million won per person, and 16.7 percent said 0.5-1 million won.
The resident, who spent over 50 million on the entry fee, said he paid 20 million won twice, plus expenses for meals for a year.
A majority of 70.8 percent said they used a bank transfer to pay the entry fee and another 13.7 percent said they paid cash. Some hospitals encouraged residents to buy cameras or computers from abroad under the name of “donations,” according to the survey.
The survey also revealed a case where a resident paid over 100 million won entry fee.
Almost all of the respondents, or 96.1 percent, said they have heard about the entry fee. Seventy-seven percent said they heard that other departments at the hospital they were at forced residents to pay the entry fee.
Four out of five trainee physicians said hospitals should stop the malpractice of collecting the entry fee.
Seventy-two percent said hospitals supported the operation costs for departments and 52.4 percent said residents received money or benefits directly from the hospital.
“If a resident does not pay the entry fee, the hospital tends to force him or her to choose another department, not the one that the resident wishes to enter,” one of the respondents said in the survey.
Another trainee physician said only the head of the department has access to the information about the hospital’s financial support for the department. “The department head spends the department’s money himself and uses the entry fees to run the department,” he said.
As first-year residents start residency in March, the KIRA is increasingly receiving complaints about entry fee, the association said.
Lee Seung-woo, president of KIRA, said it was a shame of the medical community that hospitals still had an absurd culture of taking money from trainee physicians without a transparent disclosure of its usage.
“However, some professors take the initiative to remove such practice, and some hospitals are making efforts by supporting the operating expenses for departments,” Lee said. “Now, the academic circles and teaching hospitals should not sit idle but boldly voice for self-reflection. Specialists also should not inherit this corrupt culture.”
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