Prescription for resignation: Workload forces nearly 900 new doctors to quit

PHOTO via iStock

Nearly 900 new doctors quit within six months in Thailand with a heavy workload and poor work systems cited as contributing factors. Meanwhile, the Medical Council has issued guidelines for working hours to help alleviate the situation.

Thai medical professionals are concerned about the high number of doctors who resign after a few months. This year, 2,700 newly graduated doctors started their careers, out of which 900 have already quit. Dr Puy Mek, a young doctor from Ratchaburi province, recently tweeted about her one-year work experience, describing her exhaustion and stress, which led to her resignation.

Long working hours, workload, and work systems are the major reasons behind the resignations. Although the Medical Council has announced changes to working hours to benefit newly graduated doctors, the reality has not been as favourable.

On June 9, the Medical Council issued guidelines for determining working hour limits for public sector doctors, including newly graduated doctors who need to work for at least a year to enhance their skills. These guidelines state that the working hours for doctors outside of government service should not exceed 40 hours per week. Additionally, the duration of work in emergency medicine and surgery should not last beyond 16 consecutive hours. Furthermore, if the work must continue for 24 consecutive hours, the doctor must receive at least four hours of rest.

However, some medical professionals question the guidelines for only covering newly graduated doctors without specifying any for other doctors. Policymaker Dr Itthaporn Kanacharoen responded to these concerns during an interview, stating that newly graduated doctors require more support in their first year of practice, as they need to undergo a learning process through practical work in large hospitals or medical centres. Addressing these issues early in their careers may help reduce other problems that emerge later on.

As of April 4, the Medical Council has recorded a total of 72,250 doctors in Thailand, divided as follows:

  • 66,685 doctors currently available for contact.
  • 32,198 doctors residing in Bangkok.
  • 34,487 doctors residing in other provinces.
  • 434 doctors living abroad.
  • 1,606 doctors unreachable.
  • 22 doctors with revoked licenses

This resignation of 900 trainee doctors has led to a huge concern about how to handle the workload of doctors and other jobs. Bangkok was named one of the worst cities in the world for balancing work and life. Read more HERE.

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organizations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in London, Singapore, and Bangkok. She now uncovers general stories related to Thailand.