Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An Industry

Day 3. So far so good. Had a case of Mamak Malady (ie diarrhea) already, but it's all worth it for sure. Poor babe though- the heat/jetlag seems to be really affecting Alli and she's having a tough time sleeping and staying asleep. Naturally this means mom and dad too.

As always, it's a great feeling being home. And I sometimes do feel weird calling this home, since technically our home is in the USA now. But, one can always have two homes, no? Plus, introducing Alli to family and friends here has been great. Though we'll have to make another trip when Alli's bigger- she won't remember this trip. I've had many sentimental moments, telling her "This is where I slept as a child" or "This was my Ah Kong's room" or "This is where I used to get haircuts" etc. One of my joys has been sharing stories of my childhood with my daughter. I imagine all parents do that. Because, as importance as our futures are, it's also vital to have a sense of your past. And I'd like Alli to know where her dad's roots stem from.

Anyway, I digress. Something I wanted to blog about. And yes, before you go around condemning me, I'll be the first to admit: I'm a hypocrite.

You see, I was surprised, or perhaps shocked is a better word, to see the sheer number of ads in the newspapers for private medical schools. And it'll seem like I'm a bastard for saying this, as I'm a product of a private medical school too. But I do still (naively?) consider the field and the practice of medicine and healing, to be sacred work. It's not just a profession, but it's a lifestyle, a passion, and an art. And no, not that I think I'm so damn smart that I got into medical school and all, but I do find it concerning that there are so many 'alternative' paths to becoming a doctor. Seeing so many ads promoting medical schools only seem to cheapen things, especially when many of the ads promote how economical the programs cost, with no hint on the academic requirements for entry.

Yes, I'm being awfully judgmental and jumping to conclusions, but seriously of the (at least?) 7 ads I saw in the papers, with many of the schools not even having had any graduates yet, of the many foreign schools of which some where not even WHO-recognized, I do question the quality and reliability of the medical education. Granted, I have not had the pleasure (or displeasure, as some of you have commented in MMR) of working with grads from these schools, so I have little basis for my concerns.

It's clear, this is a multimillion-dollar industry, one that is also driven by the lack of medical school positions in public universities and coupled by the unfairness of affirmative action. So, the motives for the sprouting of these private medschools is pretty clear- everyone's out to make money. And when a country as small as ours boasts of so many medical schools locally (more than Canada!), plus the numerous others in other countries aggressively recruiting Malaysians, you have to wonder what will happen a few years when the hospitals are overflowing with HOs who don't get the training and experience they need, before they are let out into private practice?

Who suffers?

The patients.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy to talk when you have been given a great opportunity through a private medical school to become all you can be. Why should other people not be given the same opportunity? At the end of the day, people will be driven by profit and money for the most part, some people take pride in what they do but this happens in every society, be it the US, Malaysia, the UK or anywhere else. I would not knock the very system that allowed you to do what you did and gave you the opportunities that it has. I can understand that there are misgivings about the quality of the doctors churned out but having worked in other countries, I have misgivings over the quality of doctors there and they're motivations for being doctors. All I can say is that at this point, there IS a shortage of doctors in Malaysia and we do need to fill that shortage. Maybe when we have filled that shortage, we can start considering quality. Everyone wants to live in the populated areas and there's not a lot of people in the rural areas. I think there is good and bad to all these systems. What I can agree about is possibly a universal exam for all doctors wishing to practise in Malaysia. I think that would help maintain a minimum standard.

5:35 PM  
Blogger vagus said...

good points. i'm not saying no one else should have the same opportunities. my concern is there should be a limit, or some quality control (not saying i was high quality, hah!).
also there may still be a doctor shortage, but from what i understand there is a surplus of junior docs/HOs running around, to the point that the seniors cannot cope with providing them with the teaching/experience they need to be good doctors. (perhaps someone else in the system with real experience can comment?)
Anyhow, I agree with the universal exam, for ALL graduates, even local.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About 15 years ago, we have 5 HO in the whole Dept, now there's 75 of them. Each HO used to be in charged of 2 cubicles in the ward, sometimes 3. I really do not know how duties are delegated nowadays. There's only so many patients to be clerked and blood to be taken in a day. The nurses' station is filled with them. At this pace, they will not get enough training.


9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as the universal exam maintain its own standard...... just imagine, will you be happy if your parents are treated by this particular group of docs?


5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those of us struggling to supervise the HOs going through the system, we have to weigh the burden of disappointing the hopes for this future medical officer against the danger that he/she poses to future patients if inadequately trained.

The quality of doctors have dropped so much in the years, be it the private or public universities graduates. Previously we could try to do our best to guide the weaker ones prior to 'releasing' them into the real world. But now.... too many to supervise.

At what price do we stop to thinking about quantity and start talking about quality? When it affects a patient's care (already happening) or when it affects our loved ones?

7:22 AM  

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