Health & Education

A Healthy Mind

Medical Education

However, in order to cope with foreign visitors requesting complex cancer treatments or invasive bone marrow or spinal surgeries, as well as a growing trend in demand for cosmetic operations, […]

However, in order to cope with foreign visitors requesting complex cancer treatments or invasive bone marrow or spinal surgeries, as well as a growing trend in demand for cosmetic operations, Turkey’s healthcare professionals have had to learn new skills and develop expertise in certain fields of medicine. Broad challenges face the expansion of medical education in Turkey, including poor coordination between teaching and service organizations and a centralized system suffering from a lack of funding and an underdeveloped policy on the matter. To meet this need, the country’s major educational institutes are improving their medical research and instruction capabilities to ensure that a steady stream of capable doctors and nurses are available. Newcomers to the sector are finding niches that are not yet catered for, allowing rapid expansion in shorter periods.

One such institution is the research-focused Koç University, which will inaugurate its Health Sciences Campus in September of 2014. In the first phase, the campus will include 251 hospital beds, along with advanced facilities such as imaging centers, 10 operating theaters, intensive care units, and emergency services. The area of its primary focus will be oncology, genetics, and infectious diseases. The university’s school of medicine offers three years of education in its campus in Rumelifeneri, with clinical studies taking place in the forthcoming campus. However, state universities in general lack the funding to train adequate numbers of doctors. The universities are receiving more applications than ever, but a dearth of permanent academic staff is limiting the potential of many schools. The 2013 official figures suggest that there was one medical professional for every 658 citizens, ultimately placing Turkey still below many developed and emerging markets.

To combat a lack of trained professionals, legislation from 2012 paved the way for foreign healthcare practitioners to work in private companies. “There have been 453 applications,” explains Dr. Mehmet Müezzinoğlu, Minister of Health, in conversation with TBY. “Of these, 136 are specialized doctors, 219 general practitioners, 79 nurses, and one emergency medical technician.”

The established Liv Hospital is a ready example of a private institution with educated staff performing complicated surgery. Through its 50 departments, experienced doctors encounter patients with neurological and oncology-related complaints, as well as carrying out micro-plastic surgery. The competitive salaries offered by private firms attract such doctors. The future for medical education in Turkey is uncertain, but with the government guaranteeing its commitment through supportive initiatives, reforms, and legislation, and a healthy dose of attention from private firms, the sector should continue to expand. Opportunity abounds for educational institutions willing to supplement state efforts to educate promising students.

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