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07 Oktober 2010

Aku dan nasib junior doctor Siri 3

Rasanya doktor yang komplen macam2
ialah doktor2 daripada golongan yang ada2,
yang jarang merasa hidup susah
dan dah terbiasa dengan kehidupan di bandar2 besar.
Doktor2 yang berasal daripada kampung2
rasanya takda masalah untuk dihantar kemana sahaja.
Tak payahlah selindung2 nak training jadi specialist ke hapa.
Cakap aje tak suka duduk kampung
dan jauh daripada keriuhan kota besar.
Malaslah nak komen macam2...

Better policies will stop brain drain of docs

IN RESPONSE to the recent letter “Consider plight of overworked young doctors with families”, I hope the Government will consider the earnest cries of many these young doctors.
I support the dream of 1Malaysia, to value people and performance now and to retain our top talents.

I am a medical officer who has just completed the new housemanship programme introduced in 2008.
In the two years, I’ve taken note of broken promises from top management such as automatic promotion to Grade UD 44 after completion of the two-year housemanship and getting a day off after a 24-hour shift.
I have also learnt that the Health Ministry has this year chosen to relocate most of the new medical officers from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to other states, and many had been assigned to Sabah and Sarawak.
While there’s a need to send doctors to work in these states, it’s not fair to pick only doctors from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

In the pursuit of 1Malaysia, there should be a transparent and just policy in selecting medical officers from all states, and of all races, to serve where the need is greatest.
Young doctors who are pursuing postgraduate qualifications and who’d prefer to work in urban hospitals to gain needed experience are sent to places where training is scarce. Some of these doctors felt that they have no other options but to leave the country for better opportunities.

It is such an irony that the Government is striving to retain top talents in our country and also making efforts to lure home more Malaysian doctors from abroad but on the other hand, driving our young and bright doctors away from the country.

It’s unfortunate that the Government’s solution to the problem is to increase production and churn out more medical graduates without addressing the root issues.
The Government has invested millions of ringgit to educate the country’s best students only to have them leaving the country without making a difference in our society.

The Ministry should focus and intervene in improving the working conditions and more importantly, retain future specialists in the urban hospitals where appropriate training is available.
I believe Malaysia has the most talented and dedicated doctors. However, these human resources have been drained for various reasons.

Because I love Malaysia, I am pointing the flaws in the system. I dream of Malaysia, a country where young doctors will be proud to serve because they know their government cares for their well-being.

CONCERNED DOC,
Petaling Jaya.

Serving in rural areas is a learning process

I REFER to the letter “Better policies will stop brain drain of docs” (The Star, Oct 5).
There is a recent mass production of doctors in line with the Health Ministry’s policy to achieve the WHO recommendation of doctor/patient ratio of 1:600.
The wards in general hospitals which were previously looked after by two housemen each will now have 20 house doctors for 40 patients.

The tiring 24-hour on call duty and continuous 36-hour working spree have become less frequent. With the current rate of doctor production, future young doctors might not even have enough work as every admission will be attended by a few of them, who are eager to manage a case to gain experience.

Many of the new hospitals also provide excellent working environment and the remuneration, promotion opportunity and prospects for specialisation are bright.
However, those aspiring to take up the medical profession and importantly, their parents, must spend some time to understand the career and its local circumstance in Malaysia before making the decision.
There have been lots of complaints about rural posting, on call duty, salary, working environment etc, which to those in the fraternity, are something acceptable as part of the training and service to the people. Of course, the Health Ministry is doing its part to improve the doctors’ welfare in government service.

There are things to be expected in joining the medical profession in Malaysia. The candidates must be prepared for long working hours and 24 hours on call duty (up to 14 times a month ). It is for training purposes.

They have to undergo two years of housemanship and two years of compulsory service. Salary is not great and the working environment might not be conducive. For those studying overseas, the returns for “investment” can only be expected after 10 years.
They are subjected to rural posting in any part of Malaysia. As stated by Tun Dr Siti Hasmah, it is a valuable learning experience. A doctor cannot mature in an incubator.

It is absurd that doctors who are keen to specialise shouldn’t be sent to a rural hospital as part of his service. Parents have to understand that your children will not be with you for many years after graduation.

The doctor/patient ratio in the Klang Valley is almost 1:400. We are short of doctors in the rural areas because of the uneven distribution. You join the medical profession as part of the national plan to improve health coverage in the rural areas. After your compulsory service, you are free to leave for private practice. And if your performance is good enough, you may be selected for specialist training but chances for specialist training are not guaranteed.

It is best to talk to a medical doctor in government service before deciding to join this noble profession. It is not good to get all the “surprises” only after spending five years for a medical degree and worse still, after investing tens of thousands of your parents’ hard earned money to study overseas.

DR CHANG,
Klang.

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