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As criticism mounts, med students engage in community service

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Feb. 27, 2024 - 14:51

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Medical students at Yonsei University College of Medicine pose for a picture at a senior welfare center. (Screenshot captured from Instagram) Medical students at Yonsei University College of Medicine pose for a picture at a senior welfare center. (Screenshot captured from Instagram)

As negative sentiment continues to build toward the medical sector after junior doctors walked out of hospitals and training programs in protest of the government’s decision to increase the annual medical school enrollment quota, medical students said they would engage in community service while taking time off from their studies.

An emergency response committee at Yonsei University College of Medicine on Monday kicked off volunteering activities to provide free meals for the elderly, distribute food and wash plates at the senior center, and engage in clean-up activities at the Yeouido Saetgang Ecological Park in western Seoul.

The medical students also plan to aid disabled employees at the Goodwill Store in Eunpyeong-gu, northern Seoul, where employees with developmental disabilities sell secondhand daily necessities like clothes, by the end of this month.

Starting in March, Yonsei medical students said they will participate in blood donation drives and clean-ups of the Seodaemun Independence Park, a historical site with monuments and buildings, in commemoration of the 105th anniversary of the March 1 Movement.

Joining their Yonsei peers, an emergency body at Sungkyunkwan University’s School of Medicine said it would run a 10,000-hour volunteer activity campaign until June in what it calls an act of giving back to the community by offering medical services and undertaking other volunteer activities.

As part of the project, SKKU medical students will donate hematopoietic stem cells -- immature cells that can develop into all types of blood cells -- to those in need and give blood.

In addition, the emergency committee at Korea University’s College of Medicine has teamed up with the Blood Donation House branch at Anam Station to volunteer at a blood drive. The group didn’t specify when it would run the project.

Meanwhile, some 515 students at 14 medical schools newly applied for a leave of absence as of Monday at 6 p.m., bringing the cumulative total to 13,189 students, according to the Education Ministry on Tuesday.

Some 48 students at three schools withdrew from their decision to leave, while 201 students at one medical college were denied leave due to unmet requirements, it added.