S Korean government to mobilize over 2,700 additional nurses amid doctors' walkout

South Korea, doctors walkout
Photo credit: Yonhap

The health ministry said Friday it will send more than 2,700 additional physician assistant (PA) nurses to hospitals to minimize medical system disruptions amid a prolonged walkout by trainee doctors, Yonhap reports.

More than 90 percent of South Korea's 13,000 trainee doctors have walked off the job  since Feb. 20 in protest of the government's push to increase the number of medical school seats by 2,000 starting next year from the current 3,058 seats.

The walkout has caused major chaos in the medical field, as such junior doctors had played a key role in major hospitals, and PAs and other medical staff have been struggling to fill the void.

As of end-March, there were 8,982 PAs working at 375 general hospitals nationwide, and the government plans to add 2,715 such nurses to raise the total number to around 12,000, according to the health ministry.

To reach that goal, the government said it will conduct "intensive" education and training programs for them starting next week.

Often called clinical nurse specialists or operating room nurses, PAs are supposed to take over part of the duties of junior doctors in medical institutions, such as conducting tests and performing partial surgeries.

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