The economic crisis in Greece has led to a massive brain drain as young professionals leave the country in search of more reasonable wages. Countries around the world are taking advantage of this. Greek doctors in particular are being sought by many countries and forced to leave their 1,000-euro per month salaries at public Greek hospitals or the prospect of certain unemployment for a better life abroad.
The Medical Association of Athens (ISA) says that 4,000 doctors left Greece over the last three years. Of these 62.5% are skilled professionals who have completed their education but find that the National Healthcare Service (ESY) and the private sector cannot absorbe the new qualified doctors.
“Doctors in Greece nowadays face actually two options: unemployment or migration. The financial crisis and the lack of planning the education of the required medical staff has led to this dead end. In the past, Greek doctors, would go abroad to further educate themselves. Now they only do this to earn a living. And they are leaving from a country where health levels significantly drop with each passing day,” said ISA President George Patoulis.
Most doctors prefer Germany, followed by France, the U.K. and Scandinavian countries, however the United Arab Emirates are also a favored choice.
The Greek medical community at Rhine-Westphalia numbers around 1,200 doctors, making up for the largest foreign group of health experts in the region. North Rhine-Westphalia Health Minister said that Germany needs this inflow and she made reference to a cooperation between the state government and the Thessaloniki Medical Association.
Greek doctors in Germany are particularly pleased with the smooth operation of medical facilities that don’t require a great deal of bureaucracy for someone to enter the profession. “Most are happy with the situation here, though we relly miss Greece. Most would go back if they found a similar position. However, it looks as though they’ll stay because the German system offers security,” says Dr. Alexios Theodorou, a surgeon at the Hospital of Gummersbach. In an interview with Greek daily Ethnos, he said that there are so many Greek doctors in Germany that they sometimes end up speaking Greek during medical meetings.
“In around a decade, 40 medical clinics will have a Greek director,” predicts Phedon Codjambopoulo, German Hellenic Business Association President.
German newspaper Deutsche Welle reports that the number of students going to Germany to complete their university studies and improve their chances on the job market are increasing as a result of education cuts in Greece that have threatened the quality of education.
“Despite the quality of degrees in their homeland, an increasing number of Greek students are moving abroad to study. In Germany alone, between 2012 and 2013, the number of Greek students rose by 13 percent. In 2012, Germany’s Federal Statistical Office totaled almost 6,000 Greek students, of which more than 1,100 had directly begun their studies in Germany,” says the article that says that Greeks have been studying abroad earlier in the hope of finding work faster afterwards.
New York’s Public Advocate Letitia James, present at the St. Nicholas Festival of called for more Greeks to come to New York city. “We need more Greeks to come to New York City,” she said. “We need individuals who are educated in science and maths. We need mroe teachers, and scientists and professors. They add to the depth and breadth of New York City. They bring their experiences, they bring their enterpreneurial spirit and that’s why we need them here.”
Turkey called from Greek doctors right from the outset of the crisis. Graduates of medical schools in Greece have already been called to work in Turkish hospitals. During a recent visit, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu had conveyed Turkey’s request for Greek doctors. He said his ministry will coordinate the project with the Council of Higher Education that oversees the employment of lecturers and doctors as well as with the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The call was made in response to Turkey’s struggles to staff its hospitals in order to cater to its 76-million large population.