Spain warned it has five years to find new doctors in education

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Looming retirement ages are presenting a problem with the number of doctors in education centres


Spain has been warned it needs to create more incentives for medical professionals to move into teaching or face a shortage of doctors in education centres in five years time. The average age of permanent teaching staff means that 53.3% will be hitting retirement age in the next ten years. For most subjects, this is not a problem as there are plenty of people able to take over. However, in medicine, the retirement age is approaching twice as fast, and there are far fewer people accredited to take over. In the next five years, 43% of teachers will leave their posts. The Ministry of Universities and the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (Aneca) are now preparing shock measures.


The process of becoming a teaching doctor is a long one. Class hours must be accumulated and there is no shortcut or other road to be accredited. “An associate doctor can be 20 or 30 years charging 300 euros to teach a few hours of class a week and after that time, if he has been able to investigate and sign articles in his hospital, he is credited as the holder”, explains Aguayo, chief from the Surgery Service of the Morales Meseguer University Hospital in Murcia. This route holds few incentives for young doctors to follow.


A dramatic situation is shown through data from the ministry. There are only 18 professors of Pediatrics for 43 education centres. In five years, 52% of gynaecologists have gone. In 2019, there was an average of only one accreditation to each of the 43 faculties, to be spread over 25 areas of knowledge. The Ministry’s report said the situation was ‘unsustainable’.


Next year, a new medicine degree will begin at the University of Almeria. They say there are enough accredited teachers on their staff to cover the course for now. They soon will have their first PhD professor. Next in line to want to put in place a Medicine degree is the University of Jaen. They wait to see if there will be enough staff once their application has gone through.


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Claire Gordon


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