Turkey's medical students avoid specializing in vital clinical, surgical branches

According to the newly announced placement results of Turkey's Medical Specialty Exam (TUS), many students did not prefer vital clinical and surgical branches even though the quotas have been increased over the years, which medical professional organizations deemed “alarming."

Duvar English

Turkey’s medical students filled 100 percent of the quotas for dermatology, plastic surgery, child psychiatry, nuclear medicine, underwater medicine, and physiology, according to the newly announced placement results of the Turkey's Medical Specialty Exam (TUS).

However, students were placed less than half of the quotas for highly vital branches such as pediatrics; child, thoracic, and general surgery.

The Ankara Medical Chamber (ATO) warned, "The consequences of this situation will be devastating. Solutions should be urgently sought with an approach that prioritizes public health."

Approximately 23,000 prospective physicians took the exam required for specialty training in March this year, and 21,000 of them passed the threshold while half of them qualified for a specialty.

ATO noted that approximately 60% of the quotas in pediatric surgery, more than half in pediatrics, around 40% in general and thoracic surgery, about 25% in cardiovascular surgery, neurosurgery, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, and roughly 20% in internal medicine remained unfilled.

In the statement, the chamber noted that the number of doctors taking the TUS exam has been steadily increasing each year. Approximately 13,000 doctors took the exam in the spring of 2018, and this number has increased by 80 percent in 2024, according to ATO..

"This situation has arisen as a result of the increase in the number and quotas of medical faculties in recent years. The increase in the number of students has also led to a dramatic drop in the threshold scores and rankings for admission to medical faculties in university entrance exams,” the chamber noted.

The capital’s medical chamber underscored that these increases have been deteriorating the quality of education at large and well-established universities and added, “The same applies to the specialty quotas in medicine. Many centers have opened quotas beyond their capacity to provide quality education.”

The chamber noted that they would not differentiate the importance of the medical branches, yet there were serious structural problems leading medical students for specializing in certain branches. 

“Our problems such as inhumane workload, frequent and exhausting shifts, heavy clinic loads, performance-based systems, healthcare-related violence, mobbing, severe malpractice penalties, inadequate economic conditions and labor rights, lack of meritocracy in academia, and compulsory service obligations hindering academic progression and lifestyle establishment still await resolution," ATO noted.