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Yasser Moullan and Xavier Chojnicki explor whether training or immigration policies provide a more effective reponse to shortages of physicians within the OECD

Shortage of physicians is a big challenge in many OECD countries, and policy makers try to tackle this issue by increasing the number of students entering medical school as well as by recruiting internationally. In this working paper Yasser Moullan and Xavier Chojnicki analyse the strategies OECD governments adopt, and explore when these policies are effective in addressing medical shortages.

Due to the length of time medical training requires, the impact of expanding medical school capacity should take longer to be effective than recruiting foreign-trained physicians. The authors have built a dataset that comprises information about physician shortages, the number of medical school graduates, and the number of foreign-trained physicians. They find that OECD governments, after a period of shortage, produce a higher number of medical graduates in the long run but in the short term face an increasing emigration of their practicing physicians and so carry out a lot of recruitment of physicians from abroad.

Their simulation results show that only recruiting abroad has limits in the long term, but also point out its appropriateness as a strategy, in the short term, where there are recurrent cycles of shortage or surplus in physicians. Their findings have implications for health care planning within the OECD and for more effective policy making in the field of medical recruitment.

Download the working paper