To be or not to be...a doctor?

8:00 AM

Did anyone read yesterday's news? No, not the on about some guys getting conned by Filipino ladies! It's this one:

From doctor to waiter

Some of the salient points in the article:
1. It costs RM 500,000 to produce a doctor locally and RM 1 million to graduate from overseas.
2. 1 in 5 housemen will quit
3. More than 6 months waiting period to get a placement

Is it really a surprise? Not really. If you follow Dr Pagalavan's blog, he has been saying this over and over again...there are too many medical colleges in Malaysia and we are producing too many doctors. The people up there in Putrajaya making policies should really listen to what he has to say. I doubt that anyone up there will ever listen to MOfrust though. Besides, I'm still short of experience.


This news should come as a surprise to some as I still hear some parents tell their children to become doctors to have a proper job and become rich in the process. Whenever I meet students with ambitions to become doctors at the clinic, I will try and spend a moment with them. I'll ask them:

1. Is this really THEIR choice? Is it their own choice or their parent's?
2. Are they aware of a doctor's work? Do they know the dedication it takes?
3. Are they doing it just for the money? If you want to be rich, be a businessman.

I'll give them these questions hoping that they will go back and think about it again.


ONE in FIVE housemen quit on the job. This is not surprising as well. During my HOship, I encounter at least ONE houseman who quit in each of the six postings. In some departments, they don't quit but become a burden to the other HOs. Their name is in the roster but they come to work as they please. Back then I could say it was TOUGH. EOD on calls, covering the wards alone, getting scolded  by MOs, specialists, consultants and even nurses. I thought things should get better with the introduction of the shift system but I guess things didn't turn out as planned.


I still remember back in those days, local medical graduates didn't complain about long waiting time to get a placement. Instead, we complained that we didn't manage to get enough break. The time taken from graduation to getting called for induction was between two weeks to one month. How things have changed.

The ehousemen (thank you ibrahimazamanzain for the link) initiative seems like a good effort as prospective housemen can analyze which hospitals have placements for housemen. They can then estimate how long it takes to get a placement at their hospital of choice. The more popular a hospital is, the longer the waiting time. It is worth noting that there is a policy in most Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri (not sure if it is from MOH or not);

Upon completion of housemanship a doctor needs to be transferred out to another state for MOship.

So, plan well my young ones. Do you want to spend two years away from your family (or any other interest) and return to your desired place of practice or spend two years in a place you like and spend the remaining years in some place you don't like.

However, this does not solve the problem of unequal distribution of doctors. It may actually aggravate the situation. I remembered a time in Taiping Hospital when we were really short of HO. It came to a point when there was only ONE houseman covering THREE medical wards. Meanwhile in Ipoh Hospital, there was a flood of HOs. We couldn't even implement the shift system at the time as it would mean that there would be only ONE or TWO HO per shift in one department. When HOs are not enough, there will be more burden on MOs as well.

I don't see how the situation for HO training will change in the near future. Extending the induction period won't solve anything as the staff handling the induction program are non-clinical and not medical trained. I also don't see how HOship placement in klinik kesihatan will help as well. Just look at the number of patients seen by a doctor in the clinic in a day. Not to mention the endless meetings and community projects that needs attending. Who will be able to guide the HO? Even MOs are finding it hard to find time to get guidance from their FMS. With GST coming into effect tomorrow, there will be even more patients seeking treatment at KK instead of a private center.

Now the question remains; TO BE OR NOT TO BE....A doctor?


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  1. The link for ehousemen is :

    I think it is a good initiative for placement although some complaints the place is taken so fast. But mostly it keeps both the ministry and future doctors happy. The candidate will not wait too long for their hospital of choice so they may opt for placement where they are needed the most. And no more ranting/report/appeal because they choose their own hospital of choice.

    1. Thank you ibrahemazamanzain for the link. I have updated the entry with due recognition. :)

  2. Very stressful life...and sometimes i felt regret chosing this carrier :(

    1. Sabar DrEm. We just do our best. Kalau stress, boleh baca blog ni :)


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