Opinions of medical students at the University of Cape Town on emigration, conscription and compulsory community service
A study was conducted to determine emigration intentions of medical students at the University of Cape Town. Students from 1st to 5th year completed a self-administered questionnaire. A response rate of 86% was achieved. Over half the students (54%) were considering emigration. The most frequently selected motivating factors were moral dissatisfaction with the present government and career opportunities abroad. Men who were eligible for military conscription rated this factor as an important deterrent to remaining in South Africa, and 81% stated objections to national service. However, 71% would be less likely to emigrate were an alternative national service (ANS) instituted. Should a compulsory community service be implemented, 41% of those eligible would be more inclined to emigrate. Recommendations include the implementation of ANS; a re-evaluation of the compulsory community service proposal; and further investigation of emigration trends and of ways to curb emigration. Suggestions offered are a reappraisal of both selection criteria and medical education; and the provision of incentives for doctors to work in rural areas.
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