Journal of Public Health

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 347–351

Brain drain threat–Polish students are not satisfied with labor market options for health professionals in Poland

  • Krzysztof Krajewski-Siuda
  • Piotr Romaniuk
  • Barbara Madaj
  • John Forbes
  • Lech Hubicki
Original Article



Following the EU expansion in 2004, the threat of mass migration of medical doctors in the new member states has become a widely debated issue. It is particularly relevant in the context of skills shortages in developed countries that seek to fill gaps in their systems with foreign labor. This makes doctors from the former Eastern bloc an attractive resource.


To explore and quantify the potential scale of medical migration, a study of intentions of medical and dentistry students was conducted at the largest medical university in Poland.


A total of 367 students of the first and final degree was examined using our own questionnaire. Binary and multivariate analyses based on logistic regression models were used to examine the data.


The study shows that 85% of students admit they are considering going abroad, mainly because of poor financial and professional development perspectives at home. No clear profile of a potential migrant could be built. Only those with better grades are less inclined to move, suggesting that overall people from different backgrounds are equally dissatisfied with their professional options at home. Almost 80% of those considering migration would reconsider their decisions if appropriate job opportunities were available locally.


The majority of medical students are considering going abroad to work, and those in their final year have been actively preparing to do so. If Poland wants to retain its doctors, it needs to take action to improve both the financial and development perspectives in the medical profession.


Physicians Medical students Work emigration 


  1. Bala M, Leśniak W (2005) Poland is losing its doctors. BMJ 331:235PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen L, Evans T, Anand S, Boufford JI, Brown H, Chowdhury M, Cueto M, Dare L, Dussault G, Elzinga G, Fee E, Habte D, Hanvoravongchai P, Jacobs M, Kurowski C, Michael S, Pablos-Mendez A, Sewankambo N, Solimano G, Stilwell B, de Waal A, Wibulpolprasert S (2004) Human resources for health: overcoming the crisis. Lancet 364:1984–1990PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Commander S, Kangasniemi M, Winters LA (2003) The brain drain: curse or boon? IZA Discussion Paper No. 809Google Scholar
  4. Czupryniak L, Loba J (2004) Route of corruption in Poland’s healthcare system. Lancet 364:1856PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Department of Health (2000) The NHS plan. A plan for investment. A plan for reform. Department of Health, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Derkacz M (2005) Lasowanie mózgów (Brain crumble). Służba Zdrowia 34–37:15–16Google Scholar
  7. Dubis M (2005) Poni¿ej œredniej (Below the average). Gaz Lek 4:10–12Google Scholar
  8. Larrenbee FS (1992) Down and Out in Warsaw and Budapest. Eastern Europe and East-West migration. Int Secur 16/4:5–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Main Statistical Office (2005a) Mały Rocznik Statystyczny Polski (Small Statistical Yearbook for Poland). Główny Urząd Statystyczny, WarszawaGoogle Scholar
  10. Main Statistical Office (2005b) Komunikaty i obwieszczenia (Announcements and Notices). Accessed: 15.10.2005
  11. Martineau T, Decker K, Bundred P (2002) Briefing note on international migration of health professionals: levelling the playing field for developing country health systems. Liverpool School of Tropical Science, LiverpoolGoogle Scholar
  12. Martineau T, Decker K, Bundred P (2004) "Brain drain" of health professionals: from rhetoric to responsible action. Health Policy 70:1–10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mejia A (1978) Migration of physicians and nurses: a worldwide picture. Int J Epidemiol 7/3:207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Michałowicz T (2005) Lekarze nie chcą wyje¿d¿aæ (Doctors do not want to leave). Gazeta Wyborcza 21 February.,47367,2504834.html
  15. Mullan F (2005) The metrics of the physician brain drain. N Engl J Med 353/17:1810–1818CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sadłowska K, Bielecki J (2005) Specjaliści na wagę złota (Weight in gold for specialists). Rzeczpospolita 110:A5Google Scholar
  17. Sterkowicz S (2004) O godność zawodu lekarza (For the dignity of medical profession). Służba Zdrowia 17–20:24–26Google Scholar
  18. Studniarski M (2005) Lekarski krzyk (Doctor’s scream). Menedżer Zdrowia 5:30–32Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krzysztof Krajewski-Siuda
    • 1
  • Piotr Romaniuk
    • 1
  • Barbara Madaj
    • 2
  • John Forbes
    • 3
  • Lech Hubicki
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy, Faculty of Public HealthMedical University of SilesiaBytomPoland
  2. 2.School of Slavonic and East European StudiesUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Clinical Sciences and Community HealthThe University of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Public HealthMedical University of SilesiaKatowicePoland

Personalised recommendations