Local governments pay stipends to recruit medics

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Regional hospitals continue to face an acute shortage of medical staff, reported Latgale Regional Television (LRT) Tuesday. In Daugavpils alone there are 48 vacancies open for various specialists at local health care facilities.

But in some cases local governments are getting involved in solving the staff shortages at their hospitals by offering stipends and accommodations for their resident medical practitioners. In return the young student doctors commit to a five-year term at the regional hospital, but often find they receive a much broader scope of practice in their fields of specialization.

There are currently 48 vacancies at the Daugavpils Regional Hospital, as its deputy director laughs, it would be easier to point to the fields where there are no specialist jobs that need to be filled. But with the local government support program for recruitment of residents, sixteen new medics have joined the staff there.

“We’ve worked on this issue for many years already, but such a large bunch of fresh and planned recruits we haven’t seen yet,” said deputy director of the Daugavpils Regional Hospital Edgars Lefkāns.

This is the last year of residency for Natālija and Andrejs, who receive €220 each per month in stipend monies, which they claim is a motivating factor for their choice to work here. Now they are committed to five more years as full-fledged doctors and are looking forward to more opportunities for direct practical experience.

“When we started looking for where to spend our residencies around Rīga, they told us it’s all full, but that in the regions they’re lacking specialists. That motivates one to come out here to work,” admits gynecologist and maternity care specialist Natālija Fomina.

Andrejs Pupkevičs agrees: “Practically all the good spots are taken and it’s hard to get a rewarding surgeon’s job. On the one hand competition is good in helping develop, but sometimes when it’s too tough it prevents development. Maybe the regional situation and the broader opportunities provide a better moment for one to develop,” he said.

Other local governments in Latgale province are also implementing such support programs. The stipends in Daugavpils are set for a hike up to minimum wage levels to try to attract more residents, reports LRT. Already the local government council budget has allocated tens of thousands of euro for the purpose, and is currently looking at funding eleven more stipends for resident medical students.

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