«In the faculty we are very fair. We couldn’t serve more students.”

The dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the ULPGC, María del Mar Tavío, in the outer patio of the center. / COBER

The lack of space, of teachers and the limitation of practices make it unfeasible to increase the enrollment of Medicine in the ULPGC for the next academic year, points out the deanMaría del Mar Tavío Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the ULPGC

Luisa del Rosario

The possibility opened by the Ministry of Health regarding the increase in places in the Faculties of Medicine in Spain has highlighted the differences between the rectory, the Social Council, the deanship and the student body of Health Sciences of the University of Las Palmas of Gran Canaria (ULPGC). They are “differences of opinion”, “we are in good harmony,” says the dean, María del Mar Tavío. In her opinion, there is no space to expand enrollment and the lack of health professionals predicted for 2027 would not be fixed either.

-How do you explain the disparity of criteria between the rectory and the Social Council, who want to expand places and the deanship and the student body who are opposed?

-In a democratic environment, at the university, it is normal for there to be differences of opinion. It all depends on the data you handle. In no case is it a conflict within the university. We are in good tune.

“In 2027, 9,000 specialists will be needed. If we increase places next year they will be ready in 2035»

Why are they opposed? Every year dozens of students, excellent students, are left out.

-There are some established fees, not only in Spain but in the OECD countries as a whole. The WHO establishes the number of medical schools and doctors according to the needs of the population and is one medical student for every 10,000 people. In Spain the number of faculties is very high, above the European and OECD average. It is the second place in the world, behind South Korea, and it is necessary to take into account not only the economic cost of training and specialization, but also having adequate and sufficient means so that the training is adequate.

-Too many people with a vocation for Medicine?

-It is not so much that many students want to opt for Medicine. In general they are attracted to science and health sciences. The pandemic has contributed a lot to this, but it should not be the only parameter when evaluating how many students or how many faculties there should be.

-The Ministry of Health appeals to the lack of medical personnel?

-The will of the ministry is good and has put money on the table. But for the deans of Medicine, it is appropriate to see the most urgent needs. In a report prepared by a professor from the ULPGC and collected by the ministry itself, it is warned that there will be a gap in the lack of specialist doctors, who are those with specialized training, in 2027. 9,000 specialist doctors will be needed because the retirement of professionals and the population increase converge. This slump will especially affect certain specialties such as Family and Community Medicine, Psychiatry, Radiodiagnosis, Anesthesiology and Resuscitation. This cannot be fixed by increasing the number of students in the 2023-24 academic year. From the time a student enters Medicine until they are finally trained as a specialist doctor, 11 years pass, in the best of cases. If they enter the next course, they would not be ready until 2035, which is exactly the year that same report says that these specialists will not be needed.

-What would be the solution?

-Increase offers for Internal Resident Physicians (MIR), which is the specialization. The opinion of the National Conference of Deans is that what is urgent must be addressed. A decade ago, due to the economic crisis, they began to cut. In recent years, attempts have been made to correct them with a progressive increase, but it is insufficient. This year, the exam is on January 21, there are 12,629 applicants admitted for 8,550 places. Although there are a number of recirculating students, more than 3,000 admitted to the exam will not have access to the specialized training they need. The first thing is to tackle the problem out there and adapt the training offer urgently. In addition, many of the foreign doctors with certification appear at the MIR and when they do the specialty they go to another country. We are becoming an exporting country without profit, because we lose brains.

-Does that mean that training in Spain is good, but not the job outlook?

-Our doctors are disputed in other countries, Germany, France… And they easily find work with notably different conditions. Here there is a great job insecurity and different between communities with remunerations that are also precarious and different. Our specialist doctors have been training for eleven years and charge less than other countries in the European Union. It is logical that some decide to leave.

-The Ministry provides financial aid to train more students. Is that not worth it either?

-Training Medicine students costs 6,000 euros per year and student. The Ministry puts up money for a year. Suppose we have 20 more students in the next course, that is 120,000 euros per year. By the sixth year the need goes to 720,000 euros just for those 20 students. The prudent thing is to see all aspects and evaluate all the data, numbers and reality. In this faculty we are very fair with the means both in classrooms, as well as in laboratories and in clinical practices in hospitals. We are very tight and we could not address the entry of more students without reducing the quality of teaching. The students experience it day by day. When this building was planned we had 53 per course. When it was inaugurated in 2006, there was a report justifying one student for every 10,000 inhabitants and we reached 80 places. The faculty was designed taking into account 53, but we assume 80 and with the implementation of the Degree to the current 135, without counting the increase in other degrees such as Nursing. We are also limited in the number of trainees who can interact with patients because of the limited spaces. We are truly fair and there are subjects in which practices must be moved to non-teaching periods. And not to mention the teachers, which is another matter. A lot of teachers have been retiring and the ANECA accreditation requirements discourage professionals, which is why we have to pull many part-time contracts.

-There are those who have questioned the decision of the Board, arguing that it was not informed, that few representatives attended…

-The Board was convened in a timely manner. Also, it was online, you could connect by phone. The usual number that attends that meeting attended, similar to the number of attendees in other ordinary and extraordinary meetings of said governing body. I don’t agree with those criticisms. The necessary quorum was reached and the usual number attended.

-In any case, the decision rests with the ULPGC

-Yes, the decision is not ours. The Faculty Board reached an agreement that informed the rectorate who finally decides.

-Would it be disappointing for you if they made the opposite decision?

-The opinion and data that are on the table must be taken into account. There is a report collected by the Ministry of Health and the data is held by the rectory, it knows the difficulties we have, the lack of teachers… it knows the difficulties we have.

-You don’t want to increase places, but next year a private university in Gran Canaria will do it. Will it affect them in any way?

-It is not about competing in numbers, it is about competing in quality. We are talking about the means: classrooms, laboratories, spaces for clinical practices, teachers and PAS, for an adequate training of our students.


OECD, WHO World Health Organization, European Union, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Science, Students, Research, Professors, Universities, Medicine

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