Uni strives to meet doctor shortage crisis

Uni strives to meet doctor shortage crisis

King Mongkut's Institute of Technology University Ladkrabang (KMITL) has established a faculty of medicine to help Thailand keep up with a demand for doctors as the country becomes an ageing society.

The faculty is set to accept its first batch of 50 students from March 5 to March 26. Its six-year Bachelor's programme will be taught completely in English.

Sirindhorn Hospital and Ladkrabang Hospital will be the main sites of clinical practice for its students.

KMITL president Suchatvee Suwansawat said the demand for doctors and medical professionals in Thailand is likely to increase as the percentage of the Thai population aged 65 years or older increased to 11% in 2017 and more than a quarter of the population is expected to fall into this age group by 2040.

Mr Suchatvee said the country's doctor-population ratio is 1 per 2,000, compared to 1 per 800 in Europe and 1 per 600 in Japan.

To cope with future needs, the doctor-population ratio needs to change to be 1 per 1,200, meaning medical schools nationwide have to train around 3,452 doctors per year, but the country now can only produce 3,000 physicians per year.

"The faculty was launched in part to increase the number of physicians in Thailand to match a growing patient population in the future," Mr Suchatvee said.

Mr Suchatvee said medical students at KMITL will have to learn non-clinical and non-medical subjects such as engineering and architecture in addition to their normal subjects because the university aims to produce doctors who can be inventors and researchers at the same time.

"It's true that Thailand has a shortage of doctors and healthcare personnel and we need more of them, but what we need more of, in my opinion, are medical device inventors because now we have none," he said.

Mr Suchatvee said Thailand now has to import advanced medical devices such as artificial organs, X-ray generators and medical scanners worth more than 100 billion baht a year.

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