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Medical students’ views on the migration of doctors: self-interest vs altruism

Lijo J Tharakan, Elencheral AL, Karthiga M, Rakesh PS, Vijayprasad Gopichandran, Jacob John

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2012.084


The migration of doctors from developing to developed countries is an ongoing phenomenon. There is scant information on the attitudes of medical students to the ethical aspects of this trend. This paper reports on a study of 50 first-year medical students and 52 interns in a college in Vellore city, Tamil Nadu. Only 13 of 102 respondents thought that migrant doctors contributed significantly to the health system in India. 17% thought that doctor migration was not an ethical issue, and 40% thought that individual altruism had no role in solving public problems. The responses to case scenarios suggest that first-year medical students are more likely to have an altruistic and communitarian attitude whereas interns tended to emphasise individual liberty and autonomy.

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