Doctors flee Italy in their thousands

Doctors flee Italy in their thousands
Doctors in Italy face a lack of jobs, low salaries, insecure contracts and staff shortages. Doctor photo: Shutterstock"

Thousands of doctors have left Italy in recent years to seek opportunities abroad, fleeing a lack of opportunities at home, Italian media reported on Thursday.


Last year 2,363 medicine graduates requested paperwork from the ministry of health which will allow them to work abroad.

The figure is more than twice that of 2013 and a huge jump from the 396 who made the same request in 2009, La Repubblica reported.

A ministry of health spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm the figures, which point to a sharp uptick in the number of doctors looking for work abroad.

The statistics refer predominantly to medics seeking opportunities in other European countries, where health services require certification from the Italian authorities, La Repubblica said. Doctors who go to work in countries where ministry of health documentation is not required therefore don’t feature in the figures.

Reasons for moving abroad are said to be a dire mix of misfortunes in Italy: a lack of jobs, low salaries, insecure contracts and staff shortages.

“Everyone’s leaving because our training system doesn’t give a guarantee and above all the employment and training opportunities are better abroad.” Federspecializzandi, an association for specialized doctors, was quoted as saying.

Despite 10,000 medical students graduating in Italy each year, there are just 5,000 spots to go on and specialize, and 1,000 places on GP traineeships, La Repubblica said.

Carlo Palermo, vice secretary of medical union Anaao, said such a problem needs to be tackled by reducing the number of places at medical school.

In the meantime, he said, other countries are well aware of the young talent available in Italy.

“Other countries realize that here there are a lot of qualified colleagues looking for work,” Palermo was quoted as saying.

“In fact we assist with the publicity, in specialist magazines and on social network, for France, Germany and England that invite our young [doctors] to enter their health systems.” 



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