Some protesters threw their white coats on the ground as they called for educational reform and for scholarships allowing them to specialise.
Young Italian doctors complain of training bottlenecks that prevent them from choosing a focus, even as over 10,000 specialists are set to retire in the next five years, creating a vacuum that is not being filled.
Only about 4,000 specialisation grants are allotted by the government, a number far lower than that of doctors who want to specialise.
That forces many of them to leave Italy for further training abroad, depleting the country of valuable medical expertise.
“The efforts and sacrifices that health workers have made in recent months must not remain in vain, which is why serious medical training reform is urgent and necessary,” organisers wrote in a statement.
In Milan, about a hundred young doctors or students in their final year of medical school threw their white coats on the ground in protest.
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP
Some held up signs reading, “Without doctors, there are only miracles” and “Who will treat you tomorrow?”.
The one-day protest took place in 21 Italian cities, including Naples, Bologna, Genoa, Turin, Florence and Palermo.
“By 2025, more than 60 percent of our specialist and general practitioner colleagues will retire. Given the current health policy, there will not be enough staff to replace them,” wrote organisers.
“The right to health care and health of all citizens will therefore be jeopardised.”
Many of the doctors and students involved in the protests helped care for patients during Italy's coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed over 33,000 people in the country.
Italian authorities in March asked retired doctors to volunteer to return to work amid a shortage of staff needed to fight the outbreak.