Emergency medicine in Ukraine: challenges in the post-Soviet era

Am J Emerg Med. 2000 Nov;18(7):828-32. doi: 10.1053/ajem.2000.18110.


The practice of emergency medicine in Ukraine is markedly different from the practice in North America. The emergency physician counterpart in Ukraine attends 6 years of medical school then 18 months of prehospital physician training at an EMS base station. Once trained, prehospital physicians work 160 hours/month in 24-hour shifts at the base station as part of a physician-nurse team which answers ambulance requests. Most patients are seen and treated on site of the ambulance call. Patients are transported to the hospital only 20% of the time. Prehospital physicians can expect to earn $35 to $65 per month. Nearly all prehospital physicians are government employees. Since becoming an independent democratic republic, Ukraine's turbulent economy has negatively affected health care. Deaths from infectious diseases, including vaccine-preventable illnesses are 10-fold to that of Western countries. A 90% income tax discourages the private practice of medicine. Medical care is provided free of charge, however, if a patient wants a higher standard of care, they may have to pay an attending physician up to $200. Most medications used to treat emergencies are free, but if thrombolytics are required, the patient will have to pay for them before they are administered. Budgetary constraints limit equipment and technology. The disparity between urban and rural resources is striking as even the most basic equipment is antiquated and in need of repair. Despite the economic challenges facing Ukranian physicians, they are enthusiastic about the care and services they provide. EMS is well organized and offers services not seen in the United States. Prehospital physicians in Ukraine are viewed as an integral part of the health care system by their hospital-based colleagues.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical
  • Emergency Medicine / economics*
  • Emergency Medicine / organization & administration
  • Emergency Medicine / trends
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Physicians / economics
  • Physicians / supply & distribution
  • Professional Competence
  • Public Health
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits
  • Ukraine