The dropout rate among 733 physicians who were licensed in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 is relatively high, between 5.5 percent and 12% of those contacted in a telephone survey, a new Ben-Gurion University study shows.The research, published in the latest issue of Harefuah – the Hebrew-language journal of the Israel Medical Association – was conducted by Dina Van Dyke, Keren Holtzman Schweid, Telma Kushnir and health economist Prof. Gabi Bin-Nun.Young doctors described as dropouts either left the field of medicine after studying and training for many years, or left Israel altogether.The research gives support to the demands of the Israel Medical Association, which is involved in a bitter wage dispute with the Treasury and a fight over working conditions and lack of manpower (especially in the periphery).The BGU researchers followed up licensed physicians and found that 5.5% of those who were licensed during those four years have since left the medical profession, while the highest figure was 8% of those from 2000 and 2002. A total of 12% of physicians who received their licenses between 2000 and 2006 are no longer working as physicians in Israel.Another 9% have applied to job placement companies with an aim of changing their profession and leaving “doctoring” in hospitals and community clinics.While few were sorry about studying medicine, and most enjoyed the challenge and interest in the profession, low wages, poor physical conditions in medical institutions, poor work relations and the difficulty of balancing their lives between home and work were cited as problems. Nearly half of the doctors questioned were women, who constitute a growing share of the physician population.The researchers concluded that a combination of significant intentions to leave medicine and/or Israel and low satisfaction from wages, physical conditions and balancing the personal and professional sides of their lives “paint a dismal picture regarding the intention of those remaining in medicine and in Israel regarding their profession”; they themselves are less likely to survive the health system and more likely to end up in more prestigious and better-paying professions, they wrote.Meanwhile, the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee will hold a special session on the doctors’ sanctions during the current recess. Committee chairman Haim Katz set it for Wednesday, May 11, the day after Independence Day.“The Knesset must intervene and bring the two sides to an agreed-upon solution that will bring an end to this harmful strike,” he said. The strikes by doctors began some six weeks ago (but not every day and not during the Pessah holiday.Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and senior Treasury officials have been invited to attend the session.Thursday’s sanctions will establish a reduced Shabbat schedule at outpatient clinics, inpatient wards and diagnostic institutes in hospitals in the southern part of the country.Exception committees will rule on treatment of urgent cases.Physicians working in the wards, clinics and institutes will be on hand “to be present and give advice,” the Israel Medical Association said. Affected with be Tel Aviv Sourasky, Assaf Harofeh, Wolfson, Barzilai, Kaplan, Soroka, Josephthal, Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus and Shaare Zedek Medical Center.Psychiatric hospitals in Tel Aviv and southward will also be affected. Health Ministry district health offices, municipal, wellbaby clinics (tipat halav) and school physicians will not come to work anywhere around the country. In every ministry district office, a medical officer will be on duty to deal with emergencies.