doctor exodus

The Exodus of Doctors



alarm tour (2) ambulance
mortal sense of sounding the alarm
blunt realistic prediction
recruit ordinary specialist
praise train (2) workforce
unless we’re off substantial
border prospect behind (2)
offer head (3) invitation
chunk fair (3) shortage
rural abroad patient (2)
staff decent neurology
hire shortage button (3)
quaint dialect close down
drain area (3) immaterial
worry situation brain-drain
brain average migration
mass patriot intention
hope consider sound (3)
likely in vain colleague
refuse vain (2) reward (2)
duty pack up physician
offer sign (3) pessimistic
cut demand sense (3)
oath exploit union (2)
heal look for Hippocratic Oath
revive deal (3) appropriate






This old ambulance has been touring the Czech Republic for months, sounding the alarm: the healthcare system is in mortal danger.

“We leave; you die.”

A blunt message and quite possibly a realistic prediction. If large numbers of doctors continue to leave to work abroad, ordinary people are not going to get the medical care they need.

A doctor with specialist training only earns about €800 a month before tax, which is less than the average pay for entire workforce.

These buttons say, “Thanks. We’re off.” Almost three thousand doctors say that unless they see a substantial raise by the end of the year, they’ll seek work in other countries.

Martin Engel is behind the ambulance information tour. He’s the head of the doctor’s union.

Martin Engel, Doctors’ Union Chairman: “In the first half of the year, four hundred left. That’s as many as used to leave in an entire year. If we don’t get a decent offer, there will be thousands more.”

This is an invitation to a job fair in Prague. More than thirty Austrian and German hospitals will be there recruiting.

There’s a shortage of doctors in many rural areas of Germany. This hospital in Wieden serves a large chunk of northeastern Bavaria near the Czech border. Many members of its medical staff are non-Germans.

Michael Angerer is head of the neurology department. He says there’s still a major staff shortage. It’s been three years since he’s been able to hire a German doctor. More than half of his team comes from abroad.

Many of them from the Czech Republic.

Michael Angerer, Neurologist: “We find the Czech doctors well trained. Medical training there is clearly very good.”

Dita Tochorova came to Work in Wieden three years ago, when her neurology unit Khleb closed down.

Dita Tochorova, Neurologist: “I worked in a small hospital. This one is much larger and I thought I could learn more here in Wieden. I’d be able to see more and do more.”

She’s even been able to learn to understand the quaint German dialect people speak here. Her patients are full of praise.

For most of them, her nationality is immaterial.

Patient One: “She’s a good doctor. She does everything she can to make me better.”

Dr. Angerer may be happy with his Czech physicians, but he’s worried about the brain-drain.

Michael Angerer, Neurologist: “All this mass migration: Czechs come here, while Belarusians go to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.”

When she first came, Dr. Tochorova had no intention of staying: she hoped to go home again one day.

Rita Tochorova, Neurologist: “I do feel some sense of patriotism. I certainly used to think about going back, but now I must say it’s becoming less and less likely.”

Back in the Czech Republic, her colleagues can only dream of a good job with good pay. They’ve been demanding improvements for years — in vain.

Doctor David Jirava is planning to leave.

David Jirava, Surgeon: “My wife is also a physician. And we agree on how to deal with the situation, it would be a problem to pack up and leave with our children. My wife is already looking for a position.”

Jirava, a surgeon, has already received one job offer from Scandinavia. He’s pessimistic about his prospects at home.

The health ministry there refuses to talk about raising doctor’s pay — and has even considered cutting it.

Martin Engel, Doctors’ Union Chairman: “I didn’t sign any oath about letting myself be exploited. The Hippocratic Oath is about healing. I always thought the state had a duty to reward my efforts appropriately. That’s certainly how it should be.”

If the exodus continues, it may well take emergency measures to revive the Czech health system.

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1. In the video, the old ambulance is rescuing people. True or false? What is the message of the ambulance?

2. Do doctors in the Czech Republic earn lots of money? Are they satisfied with that amount?

3. What has been the situation in the Czech Republic? What may happen in the future if things remain the same?

4. All the physicians at the hospital in Wieden, Germany are native Germans. Is this correct or incorrect?

5. Are the Czech doctors satisfied with working in Germany? Why do they like working there? Do the patients and hospital like the Czech doctors?

6. Do physicians in the Czech Republic only plan on emigrating or have they also tried to get pay-raises?

7. The government plans to increase doctors’ salaries. Is this right or wrong?


A. Do you agree with the doctors in the video, or are they being “greedy and selfish”, or both?

B. Is there a shortage or glut of healthcare professionals in your city or country, or is it just the right amount?

C. Do doctors and nurses from your country emigrate, are there foreign doctors in your country or both? Why is it like that?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. What is the solution to the healthcare profession shortage?

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