Shortage in MDs Looming Skip to content

Shortage in MDs Looming

Only a few Icelandic MDs return from their studies abroad. They lead a comfortable life there and don’t want to return to a country in crisis, writes Fréttabladid. The chairman of the Icelandic Medical Association is concerned, but the Minister of Health is maintaining calm.


Minister of Health Álfheidur Ingadóttir.

“The situation is difficult and the uncertainty causes concern in these young people,” says CEO of the University Hospital, Björn Zoega.

Approximately 150-200 Icelandic MDs are currently abroad, training for their specialization. Usually between 30 and 40 of them return every year, but in the last two years, this has not been the case.

“This winter, five of them returned and I have heard about an additional four which are coming home this summer,” says Birna Jónsdóttir chairman of the Icelandic Medical Association. “This is the first time that the number of members has decreased between the years.”

Zoega and Jónsdóttir say that the situation affects the hospitals’ departments differently.

“Currently, the oncology departments are the most vulnerable,” says Zoega who himself has been working shifts there in order to lessen the staff workload. He has also taken shifts at the trauma ward and last weekend he was on call at the orthopedic surgery ward, which is his specialty.

“We are quite concerned as to how the situation will evolve. The situation could also occur with our nursing staff. That however isn’t as much of a problem because the specialization is not as prominent.”

“Now, the afternoon shifts at Reykjavik’s health care facilities have been abolished,” adds Jónsdóttir. “The situation has not become critical but it certainly is worse than we’d like it to be.”

Minister of Health Álfheidur Ingadóttir says that the situation is not surprising given the current economic recession. “People are sitting out the crisis but I hope that they will then return as soon as possible and join the workforce when the skies clear.” She sees no signs of a looming crisis.

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