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More pediatricians needed soon

Hu Yongqi
Updated: Mar 12,2016 7:35 AM     China Daily

Many lawmakers are proposing the enrollment of more undergraduates in pediatric studies to cater to the country’s upcoming baby boom.

Qian Yuan, a lawmaker and researcher at the Capital Institute of Pediatrics, said 6,531 pediatricians quit their jobs in 14 provinces over the past three years. She said her survey found that as many as 11 percent of pediatricians resigned from hospitals and opted for other professions.

The majority of these pediatricians were 35 years old or younger.

“This happened when the one-child policy was enforced, but the number of new pediatricians will lag behind the speed of newborns as the second-child policy is carried out and brings more children,” Qian said.

Zhong Nanshan, a lawmaker and also president of the Chinese Medical Association, said 36 pediatricians and 163 nurses quit a children’s hospital in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, over the past three years.

“Income didn’t match the overload of work for pediatricians,” Zhong said.

At present, doctors’ incomes are based on their performance assessment, which is calculated with the revenue of drugs and checkups they prescribe. For some reasons, pediatricians have the lowest income and pediatric departments are losing many of their talents, he said.

Liang Jianzhang, an expert in demographics, predicted that the country will have 2.5 million more newborns as couples are allowed to have a second child, meaning an increase in demand for pediatricians and nurses.

Pediatricians are under pressure as they treat an average of at least 50 patients a day. Some even see more than 100 patients each day during peak seasons.

In addition, since babies are not able to describe their ailment, pediatricians have to make diagnoses and prescriptions based on their expertise and experience, which in turn puts them under huge psychological pressure, said Xiong Jinmei, an NPC deputy and head of the department of gynecology at Yangchun Hospital in Guangdong province.

The country now has about 110,000 pediatricians and still needs another 200,000 to meet demand for the coming baby boom, said Xiong.

In 1999, the Ministry of Education halted enrollment of pediatrics majors around the country, leading to today’s shortage, Xiong said.

“It takes 10 to 15 years to train a student to be a pediatrician,” Xiong said. That’s why both she and Qian called for reopening the major to train pediatricians for the expected second baby boom.