More with less - THES reporters describe efforts around the world to meet the rising demand for trained medical staff without compromising quality
The boom in Greek health services has seen the country turn from a net exporter of medical practitioners into a net importer.
It has also resulted in young doctors, who would have once left the country for better prospects abroad, pursuing careers at home. Many Greek medics who have worked abroad for many years are also returning home.
There have been not only major improvements in medical training, but also an expansion in hospital building and a burgeoning health private sector.
Medicine, alongside law, economics and architecture, is one of the most popular subjects for study in Greece. But this popularity has meant that only students with the highest grades are accepted.
Undergraduate courses consist of 12 six-month placements in medical schools, training in methods of diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
Graduate and postgraduate programmes offer a choice of more than 40 specialties, which fall broadly into three categories: pathology, surgery and laboratory-based medicine.
Seven universities now boast medical schools - Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Crete, Ioannina, Thrace and Thessalia.
Once students have gained their degree they spend a year in a rural hospital, medical centre or surgery before going on to specialist training, which can take two to seven years.
Foreign universities readily accept applicants for postgraduate study and specialties that are not available in Greece, while Greek hospitals and medical centres take them on for retraining or direct employment.
Greece, on the other hand, is now handling more and more applications from doctors not only in the European Union, but also many third world nations and the countries of the former Soviet Union.