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July 24, 1996

Trends in the Supply of Medical Personnel in the Russian Federation

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Politics, University of Wales, Swansea (Dr Ryan), and the Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom (Mr Thomas).

JAMA. 1996;276(4):339-342. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540040083045

IN THE former Soviet Union the supply of personnel for even skilled professional occupations was characterized by an emphasis on quantity of output rather than quality of training. That defining feature resulted from the untrammeled power of the Soviet leadership to impose its priorities for socioeconomic development in a polity that did not allow independent professional associations. By the time the "administrative-command" system of planning started to be discredited in the late 1980s, the Soviet Union had far outstripped its capitalist rivals with respect to the ratio of physicians to population.

Predictably, Soviet authorities published cross-national comparisons that had propaganda value at home and abroad. They were able to show, for example, that Japan had less than half and the United States less than two thirds of the Soviet Union's ratio of physicians to total population (Table 1).1

The authorities did not attempt to adjust this quantitative indicator to