Weimar - ten years after the start of the Thuringia scholarship for prospective family doctors and ophthalmologists, 111 supported doctors have gained professional foothold in Thuringia. Almost every second person has set up as freelancer in their own practice, as Jörg Mertz, managing director of the Foundation for the Promotion of Outpatient Care in Thuringia, said. The remaining ex-scholarship holders are employed in other medical practices or medical care centers.
The scholarship, with which young doctors are to be held in Thuringia, is core project of the foundation established in July 2009 by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KV) and the state . So far, 250 scholarships have been awarded in the specialist training for general practitioners, internists or ophthalmologists, the majority of them are still in the five-year specialist training.
The foundation also supports internships for medical students and operates its own practices in areas with only few doctors, in which it employs doctors and teaches them the basics of running practice. The aim here is to take over the practice. “With the foundation practices, our job is actually to make us superfluous,” said Mertz. At the end of this year, for example, two foundation medical practices in Ilmenau are to be taken over by the doctors working there.
According to its own statements, the foundation has so far invested good 5.1 million euros in attracting young doctors. KV Thuringia contributed around half of this from its own resources. In view of the persistent low interest rates on the capital markets and manageable capital stock of around 175,000 euros, Mertz said that the main focus was on donations. "We couldn't finance our projects with interest on the foundation capital."
The health insurance company AOK plus alone has so far contributed around 500,000 euros. The fund, like the foundation's initiators, is committed to the goal of attracting young doctors to rural regions, said an AOK spokesman. Ultimately, it is about the local medical care of the insured. The foundation's work so far has been "a great success".
However, AOK plus also sees the other health insurance companies on the move to participate. With more money, the foundation could, for example, provide more urgently needed specialists such as ophthalmologists. The fact that young doctors who want to take over the practice of their parents anyway also benefit from the Thuringia scholarship, had occasionally led to criticism of "deadweight effects" in the past.
According to the foundation, the proportion of ex-scholarship holders who are or have taken over the parental practice, around eleven percent.Anyone who works as family doctor or ophthalmologist in practice in Thuringia for at least four years after completing their training can benefit from the funding. The scholarship holders receive 250 euros per month.