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Brain drain: final year medical students’ intentions of training abroad
  1. Ana Bojanic1,
  2. Katarina Bojanic2,
  3. Robert Likic1,2
  1. 1University of Zagreb Medical School, Zagreb, Croatia
  2. 2University Hospital Centre Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Likic, Department of Internal Medicine, Unit of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Zagreb School of Medicine, University Hospital Center Zagreb, Kispaticeva 12, Zagreb 10000, Croatia; robert.likic{at}, rlikic{at}


Background In Croatia, a new European Union (EU) member state since July 2013, there is already a shortage of around 3280 doctors to reach the European average.

Objectives To investigate the emigration intentions of the current cohort of final year medical students at Zabreb School of Medicine.

Methods An electronic questionnaire was used in June 2013 to assess the attitudes of 232 final year medical students towards working conditions abroad and expectations for career opportunities in Croatia following accession to the EU.

Results With an overall response rate of 87%, more than half of the surveyed students (106/202, 53%) intended to travel abroad, either for specialty (52/202, 26%) or subspecialty (54/202, 27%) training. More female students (58/135, 43%) than male students (17/62, 27%) indicated they would not emigrate. Most attractive emigration destinations were: Germany (34/121, 28%), USA (19/121, 16%), the UK (19/121, 16%), Switzerland (16/121, 13%) and Canada (11/121, 9%). The most important goals that respondents aimed to achieve through training abroad were to excel professionally (45/120, 38%), to prosper financially (20/120, 17%) and to acquire new experiences and international exposure (31/120, 26%).

Conclusions Students’ motivating factors, goals for and positive beliefs about training abroad, as well as negative expectations regarding career opportunities in Croatia, may point towards actions that could be taken to help make Croatia a country that facilitates medical education and professional career development of young doctors.

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