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Burning Out, Not Up: Can European Healthcare Systems Retain Young Doctors?

Following our interview with Dr. Rita Ribeiro - President of the National Association of Medical Students Portugal - and Dr. Andrea Caronna - Former President of the National Secretariat of Young Medical Students Italy - we would like to highlight some relevant points, which share the vision of young medical students in Portugal and Italy.

Both countries, along with many others, share a critical healthcare situation characterized by limited resources, an outflow of physicians to foreign countries, modest salaries, facilities needing improvement, and significant staff shortages.


In Italy, the National Healthcare System has often been described as "a machine that has not been properly maintained," with endless waiting lists leading to delays of up to two years for critical interventions. The concept of a healthcare system can no longer be confined to the treatment of diseases but should include a more robust preventive approach.


It is a common perception among young physicians that the new generation of medical students places great value on the balance between professional and personal life. These young doctors are enthusiastic about more practical and innovative medical education, incorporating digital systems and methodologies alongside traditional theories. However, the students' voices (not only in the medical community, but in general) are still largely underrepresented and overlooked by medical and academic institutions.


In addition, the lack of clarity about the profession's future and opportunities for specialization contributes to uncertainty and disillusionment among students. It is imperative to adapt quickly to cultural, political, digital, and scientific changes to meet the needs and expectations of this new generation.


Undoubtedly, an increasingly evident trend in the contemporary medical landscape is the growing propensity of young physicians to pursue their careers abroad rather than operating in their home countries. This phenomenon has become much more widespread in recent years, with a significant percentage of professionals choosing this path.

In Italy, for example, it is estimated that in the last decade, 8 percent of young physicians have chosen to move abroad to practice. Although this figure does not represent the Italian medical profession, it highlights an alarming trend that cannot be overlooked.


Similarly, Portugal, despite having a smaller population than Italy, has no shortage of young doctors who decide to move to other countries to jump-start their careers. An estimated 200 students a year leave Portugal in search of job opportunities abroad.

Chiara Rinaldi - Global Account Executive @2Logical

In conclusion, while Italy and Portugal face similar challenges in healthcare, the prospects and aspirations of young medical students may vary according to the national context. However, there is a consensus that healthcare systems need to be reorganized to address current challenges and meet the needs of the new generation of physicians.


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