On August 22, coinciding with the celebration of the Day of Doctors and Pharmacists, the Iran regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi made a strange proclamation.

During his commemorative address, he asserted that the stage is set for the return of medical professionals who had previously left the country due to the catastrophic economic and living conditions.

He highlighted his recent visit to a medical company, where he was told that expatriate doctors are eager to come back, provided they are assured of meaningful employment prospects within their homeland.

This declaration transpired against a backdrop marked by the revelation of escalating emigration trends among medical personnel. Just eleven days prior, on August 11, an advisor to the head of the country’s medical system divulged that the exodus of medical talent has been on an upward trajectory in recent years.

It is crucial to underline that the flight of human capital isn’t limited to doctors, dentists, and pharmacists alone. A slew of medical disciplines including midwifery, paramedicine, physiotherapy, optometry, and other related domains are suffering from extensive migration as well.

Unofficial figures indicate that in the year 2022 alone, the number of emigrated doctors and nurses surpassed a staggering 10,000 individuals. Mohammad Reza Asadi, Vice President of the Medical System Organization, corroborated this surge in medical personnel migration.

He noted that, over the past year, 3,000 to 4,000 specialized doctors had sought new shores. Moreover, within the domain of rehabilitation, the number of doctors departing the country in a five-year span ballooned from 80 to 500, a staggering 300% growth.

The alarming aspect of this trend is the shift in migration patterns, transitioning from general doctors to specialized practitioners. This transition also marked a notable difference in the age of emigrating professionals.

While the average age of general doctors leaving the country in the last decade was around 25 years, for specialists, this figure has risen to approximately 35 years in recent times.

Observers within the medical community emphasize the potential repercussions of this trend, chiefly the potential crisis it could ignite in providing specialized medical services in smaller towns.

The shortage of specialist doctors in such areas could compromise equitable healthcare access and jeopardize treatment quality.

In September 2022, the regime’s media outlets highlighted a concerning occurrence: quotas for medical residency courses remained unfilled due to the aspirations of students to seek opportunities abroad.

Yaser Salehi Najafabadi, Secretary of the Coordination of the Medical Council of Isfahan province, drew attention to the glaring gaps in specialized fields within the country’s universities.

Statistics from the Medical Council of Iran unveiled another disconcerting fact: 50% of medical students at the University of Tehran, many of whom ranked within the top 100 in the national entrance exam, are opting to emigrate.

The migration crisis isn’t confined solely to medical specialists. The Secretary General of the Home of Nurse Association (Khaneye Parastar) reported an annual exodus of more than 3,000 nurses, with post-graduation migration being a prevalent trend.

The government’s inability to fulfill promises to nurses and provide suitable employment opportunities both domestically and abroad has created a cascade effect. Medical centers, already grappling with specialist shortages, now confront a scarcity of nursing staff.

While the Ministry of Health estimates that over 70,000 nurses are needed to reach desired medical standards, inadequate employment terms and insufficient wages have driven many to find alternate, more economically viable options.

In May 2022, the Nursing Deputy of the Minister of Health disclosed that in many regions, including Tehran, recruitment announcements fail to attract even a single volunteer.

For the past two years, the medical and nursing community—those at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic—have been left disillusioned by the regime’s unfulfilled promises.

Rallying for their rights, these professionals are still staging numerous protests. They demand better working conditions, increased salary ratios, and revised shift hour schedules for nursing staff.

However, these demonstrations, according to nurses, only led to some of them being fired for their involvement in strikes and the formation of trade unions.

As a result, several Arab countries in the region are becoming preferred destinations for Iranian medical professionals seeking to migrate.

As the medical community warns, a future where Iranian patients seek medical attention abroad and are treated by expatriate Iranian doctors might not be far off.