While job seekers make their way to crowded first-tier cities, the far west faces a shortage of skilled medical staff.
In Wuqi County, the "red cradle" of the Chinese revolution, in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Hu Zhilu, head of the brand new People's Hospital of Wuqi, with a spacious outpatient lobby, escalators and wide corridors, is worried.
The annual job hunting season is drawing to an end and the hospital is offering salaries of 500,000 yuan (about 80,000 U.S. dollars) to medical experts and 150,000 yuan to young doctors. Very few resumes have been received. The average income of local residents was only 9,110 yuan last year.
Figures from the Ministry of Education show 7.27 million graduates will hit the streets in 2014, a year labeled as the most difficult employment season on record. A decade ago, only 2.8 million graduates came onto the job market.
"There are so many people looking for jobs. I am wondering why we, the best hospital at county level in northwest China, are failing to attract medical talent?" Hu asked.
More than 1,000 km away in Beijing, Wang Lili, a postgraduate with the medical school of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), may have an answer to his question.
Lili has been busy at career fairs. Her goal is to stay in a first-tier city like Beijing or Shanghai. Her second choice is provincial capitals, such as Xi'an and Zhengzhou .
"The salary in Wuqi is attractive, but it is located in the far west and at county level," she said. Her view is echoed by many graduates.
A report on employment pressure on university students in 2014 showed only six percent would like to work in counties and less than one percent chose towns. Over half of respondents attach the highest importance to career development when looking for jobs. They think there are more opportunities in first-tier cities or provincial capitals.
"Top hospitals in bigger cities mean better salaries, welfare and most importantly, a brighter future," Wang said, adding that young doctors can get better guidance and see a greater variety of cases in top hospitals.
Hu Zhilu's hospital only receives about 500 patients each day. Beijing's top hospitals last year received about 700,000 per day between them, many coming from surrounding provinces and even farther afield, according to the National Health and Family Planning commission.
From 2000, China's "Go West" drive, the strategy to develop its vast western region, has involved infrastructure construction, ecological protection, education and talent retention. It has achieved great success so far. "But for rural counties and towns, they still have a long way to go," said Feng Lei, an official with the development and reform commission in Shaanxi. In addition to economic power, costal and eastern regions have a better environment and preferential policies.
Xia Hongqing, 28, has just landed a job in a hospital in Jiaxing City in east China's Zhejiang Province. As for working in the western regions, he said, "transportation and infrastructure are not my biggest concerns. I have family. My child needs to go to school and my wife needs a job too. Education quality and industries in counties of west China are inferior to those in big eastern cities," he added.
It is a tough employment situation as the economy slows. Preferential policies will encourage graduates to work at grassroots or start businesses to boost employment, the State Council announced in mid May.
"County-level hospitals need to provide more career development opportunities," Xia Hongqing said. "Moreover, small western counties and towns need to improve their general environment."
"We have plenty of room for improvement, but I suggest the class of 2014 have a try. Perhaps, they will make new discoveries," Hu Zhilu said. Endi