For decades, medical students have been calling for a reimbursement for the two years they spend on clinical rotation in connection with their studies. In contrast with e.g. nursing students, medical students so far received no remuneration for this internship – even though their long working week leaves them very little time for a job on the side.

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Hospital interns organise protest for reimbursement

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The students’ previous attempt to secure a reimbursement stranded in 2016, shortly after the cancellation of the base grant. Then Education Minister Jet Bussemaker deferred the decision. In the Minister’s view, medical students were free to borrow some extra money. And once they had started working as a physician, they would earn more than enough to pay off their relatively high student debt. On top of which, said Bussemaker, clinical rotation shouldn’t be seen as a ‘real’ internship, but as a training post.

But while the students may never have got the politicians on their side, they’ve finally been thrown a bone in the new CLA, which was agreed on in November of last year. As of 1 January 2019, the current batch of student doctors is entitled to the reimbursement, which will be retroactively paid out no later than April.

First hurdle

“We are very happy with this step,” says Amir Abdelmoumen, Chairman of De Geneeskundestudent, the national interest group for medical students in the Netherlands. Together with the professional association Landelijke vereniging van Artsen in Dienstverband, De Geneeskundestudent has worked hard to get the reimbursement adopted.

“It may not be that much, and for the time being, the reimbursement will only be paid by the university medical centers. But still, we’ve cleared the first hurdle.” The association will now endeavour to get the scheme adopted by the remaining Dutch hospitals.