Specialists in Italy Demand Better Working Conditions and Protections for Trainees
Rome, Italy – Hundreds of “specialists” gathered in front of the Ministry of University and Research headquarters in Rome yesterday to voice their discontent with working conditions and the lack of protection for trainees. These specialists are doctors who have already graduated but continue training in specific medical areas. With the shortage of doctors in the public health service, their demands for better treatment and attention hold significant weight.
The demonstration, organized by the Anaao Giovani, Associazione Free Specialists, and Young Doctors for Italy, aimed to catch the attention of Minister Anna Maria Bernini. The protesters highlighted how trainees in countries like Germany, the United Kingdom, and Spain receive employment under training-work contracts, which offer greater rights and conditions. In contrast, trainees in Italy are treated as students, paid with scholarships but without adequate protection.
Giammaria Liuzzi, the national manager of Anaao Giovani, lamented the situation, stating, “The scholarship amounts to 1641 euros per month, but when you deduct university fees, insurance, registration, and other expenses, you have around 1300 euros net left. It is challenging to make ends meet in cities like Rome or Milan. This has remained unchanged even during the pandemic, despite the applause for our efforts.”
The classification of residents in Italy further exacerbates the issue, affecting the quality of patient service. By law, residents can only train in university hospitals under the supervision of associates and full professors. This leads to an imbalance, with some departments having ten specialists per bed assigned to repetitive tasks, while other departments lack specialists who could contribute significantly. As a result, hospitals often have to resort to expensive external companies to provide doctors, called “coin specialists.”
Anaao Giovani manager explained the situation, saying, “A resident in their fourth year of internal medicine, for example, cannot work in the emergency room. Meanwhile, emergency workers face grueling shifts, and uncovered shifts are filled by VAT doctors at seven hundred euros a day. The qualifications of these token operators employed by cooperatives cannot surpass those of specialists.”
The Ministry of University and Research expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with the protesters. A group of technicians currently working on graduate school reform met with a delegation of demonstrators. The ministry aims to address issues such as the evaluation of the need for specialists in the future, the admission competition process, the rankings, and the importance of vocational choices. Minister Anna Maria Bernini shared, “Our objective is to lay the foundations for a comprehensive school reform that has been long-awaited.”
While progress has been made in increasing the recruitment of new doctors this year, with four thousand additional students admitted to medical schools, the limitation on the number of specialists remains a sensitive topic. The trainees demand a seat at the table during the reform discussions and have even threatened to strike if their demands are not met soon.
The future of Italy’s healthcare system relies heavily on these specialists, who dedicate years to acquiring specialized knowledge and skills. It is crucial for the government to take their concerns seriously and ensure fair working conditions and protections for trainees.