The public dialogue and conflict resolution skills of Korean physicians

Duck-Sun Ahn

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The recent conflict between the organization of medical professionals and the government agencies regarding health policy exemplified the incapability of doctors to resolve social conflicts. Doctors have shown strong dissent against a range of government healthcare policies. One policy that is at the center of this heated conflict is the cost containment measure of the national healthcare system. The healthcare professionals argue that the government policy was created in an undemocratic manner and is downright oppressive. However, the current opinion of the public is not supportive of the doctors, who are seen as self-interested and well-endowed. This disagreement among the public, government, and physicians is the source of huge contention in Korean society. The Korean medical professionals have been criticized on many grounds: they are self-interested; too focused on biomedical sciences as opposed to the holistic view on patients; lack a macro-level perspective on their actions and plans; and are isolating themselves from the general masses, treating themselves as a special class of professionals. These perceptions have led doctors' due and just claims for reimbursement for their efforts to be considered as greedy and excessive attempts to extract money in popular opinion. Whether these claims are true or not, doctors should attempt to correct these negative perceptions through a public dialogue. A concerted effort for social understanding and constructive relationshipbuilding between doctors and the general public is highly recommended. The current Korean post-graduate medical curriculum does not include any communication or conflict resolution components. Therefore, when societal conflict arises regarding healthcare or medicine, doctors are inadequately trained to resolve the issue. Efforts should be made to change medical education to better equip physicians with social and communication skills in order to amend this status quo. In order to take control of social situations and function as agents of change, doctors should attempt to build their capacity. When doctors are more adept at handling conflict resolution and leading a dialogue between the public and the professional society, then they will be enabled to achieve their aims.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1156-1159
    Number of pages4
    JournalJournal of the Korean Medical Association
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2012 Dec 1


    • Conflict resolution
    • Health policy
    • Social capacity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Medicine


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