Around 20% of medical students do not plan residency in Latvia - association

Around 20% of medical students are not planning to apply for residency in Latvia, representatives of the Latvian Junior Doctors Association informed LETA, citing a survey of would-be physicians. 

While Latvia spends 3.8% of its GDP on health care, the average figure in Europe is roughly 7% of GDP, which means that medical staff in Latvia earn less than elsewhere in Europe. This is why one in every five medical students have decided to continue their specialization in other countries that offer better pay, work environment and professional growth conditions than Latvia, the association said. 

The data of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control shows that on average 100 physicians leave Latvia each year and there are no reasons to expect the situation to change in following years. 

According to the Latvian Junior Doctors Association, the most widespread reasons for young physicians' decision to emigrate include low pay, poor conditions and quality of studies, unacceptable residency terms and often also limited opportunities for professional and scientific work.

Young doctors are persons aged 25 to 35 who work 240 hours a month in several jobs, according to the association. The junior resident's monthly salary in Latvia is 30 to 55% lower than in other Baltic states. The gross monthly salary of a junior resident in Latvia is €950 as compared to €1,345 in Lithuania and €2,083 in Estonia.

The outflow of young medics from Latvia leads to severe staff shortages, with patients forced to wait in long lines to see a specialist, the association says. 

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