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A thousand doctors
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A thousand doctors

Hundreds of students with a vocation are left without a place at medical school, yet unions warn of a a shortage of doctors

Ignacio Lillo

Friday, 16 June 2023, 16:08

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Even before students in Malaga had finished this week's general university entrance exams, which will always be known as Selectividad whatever the name is now, we already knew one thing. Unless the trend changes considerably, which is unlikely, this year there will be around a thousand applicants who will miss out on a place to study Medicine at Malaga University (UMA).

With a bit of luck, and their parents' money, of course, some will end up joining the colony of 'Malagueño' students in Santiago de Compostela or other universities around Spain, or even abroad. Others will spend years studying vocational training courses in healthcare which can be another route into medical school, not a back door, as it's as valid as any other. And others will find a new vocation in related professions such as Nursing or Physiotherapy.

This year, the candidates in this competitive examination to gain a place at university will have a small extra opportunity to study in Malaga or, at least, to stay in Andalucía: at UMA the number of first year places in Medicine is going up from 160 to 182. And around 100 extra places are available at public universities around Andalucía, taking the total up to 1,222 in the region, to help with the deficit. So, in other words, by themselves the number of students wanting to do Medicine in Malaga would fill all the faculties in the southern Spanish region, which is another way of looking at it.

I'm not naive enough to suggest that a thousand extra medical school places should be created in Malaga; I know that is not possible nor desirable. But anyone understands that the places we have are far too few. Firstly, and most importantly, because they are going to be needed: it takes around ten years to train a doctor, and the unions do not tire of warning us that in a similar period of time the majority of the baby boom professionals will be retiring... We will have to bring in supplies of doctors from other countries; I've got nothing against that, but might it not be better to train young local people who are here and have a vocation so that they can care for their own people?

I so often hear the same old story about the horrifying number of young people who are not studying, training for a profession or working and only have access to temporary, low paid, unqualified jobs.

And meanwhile we allow ourselves the luxury of leaving brilliant students without access to their dream profession, students whose families cannot afford to send them to study elsewhere.

Each frustrated vocation is this society's failure.

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