Monday, November 14, 2016

Understanding medical graduates' dilemma...

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
MY niece completed her medical studies last June but to this day she had not been called to do her housemanship (a junior doctor training in a hospital post). According to her, almost all graduates from her batch of about 100 students at a local university had not been called up.
Nowadays the issue of insufficient positions for housemen in Malaysian public hospitals has been a hot topic at medical faculties, the Health Ministry and especially among students graduating from medical schools.
If a university produced 100 future doctors yearly as in my niece's case, then with the many medical colleges mushrooming in the country, there are thousands of medical graduates waiting to do their housemanship.
It was recently reported that Malaysia was struggling to accommodate thousands of its medical graduates for housemanship every year. 
According to sources, currently medical graduates wait three to six months for housemanship as there were only about 5,000 slots a year.
To understand the medical graduates woes, recently I had a talk with PAS Bukit Baru Melaka State Assemblyman (Adun), Dr Khalid Kassim who was formerly Hospital Melaka Deputy Director.
Dr Khalid explained that in the past, the duration of housemanship was a year but it was extended to two years a few years back. Of course by extending the period would hold back more housemen before they could become medical officers (MO).
He said placement of housemanship is up to the government, the medical graduate glut problem nowadays is due to several factors such as there are more and more medical colleges in the country resulting in more graduates and in some cases there are housemen who failed to complete their training the stipulated period.
Also there are more and more graduates returning from medical colleges overseas including from Ukraine, Russia, India and Indonesia and all of them have to undergo their housemanship in government hospitals.  
It was reported that nowadays it is normal for graduates to wait for several months before they are being called for their housemanship and in the future, perhaps they had to wait for a year or longer!
Places of housemanship in Malaysia are limited, Dr Khalid agreed to the figures that there are about 5,000 seats in Malaysia. If all the slots are filled, then how are we going to put up the fresh graduates?
"I understand there are graduates who had to extend their housemanship up to two and a half or three years, thus their place could not be taken up," he said.
The extension period of practical was necessary as some graduates performed bellow the expectation line while others had to have a long break such as female future doctors who had married, became pregnant and delivered babies.
Regarding poor performance by some medical graduates, Dr Khalid said there should have been better regulations in terms of entry into medical schools at the beginning for we should never compromise quality over quantity.
Last year, it was reported that about one-third of housemen extended their training, thus, delaying new graduates from taking up posts, while one-fifth of them quit as they could not cope with the stress.
Answering questions regarding ways to solve the medical graduates glut, Dr Khalid said we are now in a tight situation, if we were to expand the slots of housemanship, we have to think about the trainers and supervisors namely specialists and senior doctors in various medical fields.
If we could provide and ready all the requirements needed by housemen, it would be of little help if we do not have specialists to supervise them. This is regarding human factor, we could not produce specialist just like that, he said. But there are some cheers because the number of training hospitals in our country had been increased from 38 hospitals in 2009 to 44 hospitals in 2015.
A source said housemanship could only be done in main hospitals and not at any hospital because the absence of specialists. The choice of hospitals too contribute to the waiting period of becoming a houseman.
The source said if a graduate wanted to be posted to popular hospitals in big cities especially in the the West Coast, he/she would have a long wait compared to smaller hospitals especially in Sabah and Sarawak.
Dr Khalid, said the 'key word' for would to be doctors, are to be 'sabar' (patience) in their waiting. Please be 'sabar', but the question is what to do during this period of waiting?
Being jobless for six months or a year was an agony...perhaps it would be an unhappy occasion when one would received his/her scroll on convocation day when one has not landed a short he/she is a 'penganggur' (jobless).
Are there ways or alternatives to cushion the impact of the wait or the pang of being labelled a 'penganggur'?. Of course when one is without work, then it was worrisome for us in carrying out important things such as regarding financial, relationship, marriage and so on.
Anyway, looking at 'the bright side', medicine isn’t everything thus graduates have to be open in considering alternatives. Perhaps during this 'menganggur' period, one would have golden opportunities such as spending more time with one's family members, travel or pursue their hobbies.
To those medical graduates and graduates from other fields who are on the 'menganggur' list, I have this piece of advice to them. Keep on seeking and broadening your knowledge forknowledge is the key to success in this world and Hereafter. Human beings' knowledge is only like a drop of water in the vast oceans of knowledge so could you imagine how little we know compared to what we don't. 
Fulfill your days seeking knowledge, for with knowledge, you will understand that everything you do, is to seek God's forgiveness and acknowledge His Greatness.For example when you stare at the empty sky and acknowledge Allah SWT's greatness in creating it without pillars and feel how small you are (please refer to Surah Al-Mulk - The Soverreignty - of the Qur'an; by the way how's your knowledge regarding the Qur'an such as in reading and understanding it ?), then you are in the right direction to have His Blessing in this world and the Hereafter. When you realize this,you will understand, there is no such thing as unemployment in Islam. There are so many things to do so how come you could be a 'penganggur'! 

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