Doctor exodus continues despite pandemic and wage rises

In 2020, Romania saw 2,173 doctors, dentists and pharmacists request certificates of conformity (documents from the Romanian Ministry of Health that allow them to practice abroad), according to data obtained by Hotnews.ro. This figure, 2,173 doctors a year, means an average of 5.95 doctors a day, but universities seem to have somewhat balanced the shortfall of health professionals (via Maszol.ro).

The Romanian news portal could not get the exact number of doctors who actually left the country during the first year of the pandemic. However, few would go to the trouble of getting these documents if they were not serious about pursuing their career abroad.

According to the Ministry of Health, the number of doctors, dentists and pharmacists requesting the issuance of certificates of conformity in 2017 was 2,794 which decreased to 2,312 in 2018. But in 2019, it increased to 3,015. And in the first year of the pandemic, in 2020, this number decreased again to 2,173.

25% of doctors left Romania between 2007-2017

In 2018, the previous Romanian government used a significant salary increase in an attempt to stop the exodus of doctors from the country, which had been intensifying ever since 2007 when Romania joined the European Union. Between 2007 and 2017, more than 15,000 doctors, 25 percent of the doctors who graduated in Romania, had left the country. As a result of the government decision, the salaries of doctors working in the state-owned health care system have increased substantially or even doubled since March 2018.

According to the county breakdown published by Hotnews, during the last two years, the most doctors left from Bucharest (1,098) and Temes/Timiș County (775), while the fewest left from Călărași County (4) and Kovászna/Covasna County (4).

Shortfall of health professionals seems to be balanced by universities

Leaders of the College of Physicians in Romania have often found it highly injurious that Romania basically educates half of its students in its universities for Western countries. However, it seems that in previous years, the universities in Romania could somewhat balance the shortfall of health professionals caused by the doctor exodus.

According to the statistical institute, 63,000 doctors were practicing in Romania in 2019, which was 2,700 more than the year before. At the same time, the number of dentists practicing in Romania increased by 500 to 17,000 and the number of pharmacists by 450 to 18,000.


Title image is an illustration: Surgical ward in the hospital of Borsa/Borșa in Máramaros/Maramureș County, January 9, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)



Author: Attila Szoó