Doctors getting $31,000 to move to rural Russia

The federal program, called “Rural Doctor,” was passed by the Russian government in 2011 and went into effect in January 2012. Source: Itar-Tass

The federal program, called “Rural Doctor,” was passed by the Russian government in 2011 and went into effect in January 2012. Source: Itar-Tass

Since a federal program aimed at providing better healthcare in smaller regions went into effect, about 8,000 medical workers have moved to rural areas. Another 5000 specialists are expected to take part this year.

Eighteen young doctors will get 1 million roubles (over $31,000) to move to rural areas in the Far East Primorye territory and work there for at least five years, local officials said on Thursday.

The doctors are the latest recruits to a federal program that aims to improve medical aid in understaffed areas across Russia by attracting specialists with payments and benefits. The federal program, called “Rural Doctor,” was passed by the Russian government in 2011 and went into effect in January 2012.

“Young specialists have been accepted into medical facilities in [eight residential areas],” according to an official statement from the head of the Primorye Region Health Department, Oleg Bubnov. “They will all get a traveling expense in cash of 1 million rubles.”

The payment will be in addition to salaries they make as doctors, which rarely reach $1,000 per month.

A total of about 100 medical specialists are expected to move to the region as part of the program, with 59 doctors already successfully recruited, according to the official statement.

Under the federal program, young medical workers under the age of 35 get an apartment or a land plot for a house, as well as 1 million rubles in cash, to work in a rural medical facility. They have to continue working for at least five years or pay back part of the money if they terminate their contracts sooner.

Since the program went into effect, about 8,000 medical workers moved to rural areas, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova told President Vladimir Putin in July, according to RIA Novosti reports. About 5,000 more specialists are expected to take part in the program in 2013, she said.

Officially, doctors’ salaries are on the rise in Russia’s remote regions, with health officials in the Primorye Region reporting in June that average salaries totaled 34,000 roubles (just over $1,000), according to Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

But according to the same report, doctors working a single shift actually get a lot less. According to medics in the nearby Khabarovsk Region, a deputy head doctor can be making 200,000 roubles a month while an average doctor at the same hospital makes just 12,000-15,000.

During a live call-in show, President Putin said that the government allotted 40 billion roubles to be spent on federal bonuses to medical workers, but admitted that the funds were not always reaching their destinations.

First published in The Moscow News.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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