Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What the future is like for us medical students? Quantity Over Quality?

Article By SMMAMS Chairman, Mr. Justin Lee

Take a moment, to make a few guesses.

1. How many medical schools we have in Malaysia?
2. From 2006 to 2009, the number of house officers in Malaysia increase by how many percents?

I am sure you have been hearing people saying "overcrowding of doctors", "lack of training opportunities" etc. I am also sure that there was a moment before when you read the newspaper and saw articles on college or universities setting up new medical courses, you, just like me, saying something like "not another one!". I also get worried when I read the ads on the papers advertising something that goes like "Fully English Medical Course in University XYZ, only require SPM CCC, less than 100k. Become Doctors Now!"

It is good to have more doctors serving Malaysia. Our country can do well with more doctors serving the Rakyat in government sector. However, rush to fulfill this goal may not be a good idea.

In 2006, 978 doctors entered housemanship training.

In 2009, 3150 doctors entered housemanship training.

This year, with more than 3650 HO thus far.

Look at how drastic the increase within 3 years! Which year are you graduating? How many doctors do you think will enter housemanship training the year you graduate? Experts have foreseen that by 2015 our country will have oversupply of doctors in the healthcare system,. This mass production of medical graduates would already quickly reach a doctor-patient ratio of 1:597, what the WHO has touted as optimum. The MMA is seriously concerned as to the likely glut, which will swamp the medical profession in the very near future.

There are currently 28 medical schools operating in Malaysia, with 37 medical programs, producing more than 2000 medical graduates a year LOCALLY, and this number will be increasing yearly, with the mushrooming establishment of new medical schools here and there! Another 2000 medical graduates return yearly from oversea medical schools.

Do you think there is a parellel increase in the housemanship training centre and adequate number of qualified experienced trainers? Many people are concerned that in the coming years, the competency and experience of a fully registered doctor in Malaysia may become critically flawed, and this pose risks to the quality of healthcare delivery in Malaysia. This pose risk to the patients we sworn not to harm.

Anyone of you ever wonder, you or me might be unemployed and have to beg for job when there is oversupply of doctors?

Clinical medicine is always learned in an appreticeship model. The apprentice follows and learns from his/ her teacher. Medicine is an art passed down from generation to generation. To think that MO who in charge of me when I start housemanship may not be genuinely interested in Medicine, scored a C C C in his SPM and was put through medical school only because his parents want him to do medicine, is kind of scary actually.

Nobody will stand up for the medical profession besides us, the medical professional. Currently, MMA is in the movement towards the regulations of the number of medical graduates. If you are concerned about the welfare and future of us, future doctors in Malaysia, then we will have to stand together, sail together in one ship.

What can you do now, as a medical student? Sign up as a MMA Student Member (SMMAMS). Give MMA the ability to strongly say that MMA represents you, the medical students, future doctors in Malaysia. An association, be it medical association or workers' association, can only stand strong for his profession if more people show their support for it, reflected by the number of members we have.

Bersatu teguh! Bercerai Roboh!

What will be the future of us? Malaysian doctors? Malaysia Health Care System?


  1. It's a sad fact. :( Well said!

  2. About the poll, it's sad to see that the symbolic stethoscope and clothes we are wearing are just another medium of transportation of the killing bug.

    For the lab coat part, it's avoidable when the hospital actually provides clean lab coats everyday. We can use our student's card to claim it daily from a labcoat dispenser machine. And it's neat and tidy to tuck the ties into the labcoats.

    Every student should have the discipline to make sure the stethoscope is clean when using on the next patient. But it's unreasonable to sterilize it after every time we use. As it may crack easily in the long run as alcohol may react with the stethoscope tubing. Not every patient is necessary to be in distressing sterilized condition. Those in OT or ICU probably should be auscultated using hospital provided sterilized stethoscope.

  3. The 'So, sign up for the SMMAMS !!!' sounds really promotional lol. Tbh, I don't think we are in ANY position to do anything about the mushrooming. The sad fact is that 20 years down the road I will most likely fear for my dear life should I have to admit my parents or family members into the hospital for a checkup, because instead of 'hopefully', I am 'sure' to encounter a mass produced product by sheer fact of the numbers today.

    We should sign a petition instead, for the higher ups, those who actually regulate the requirements for a certified medical school.

    Thus my cheap 2 cents. Cheers

  4. Absolutely true...Nowadays the medical graduates are not comparable to the past ones as what the articles said'you just need a CCC for SPM results to gain their entry to medical schools' Knowledge wise,they are not at par with those AAA students,practical wise,there are not many established clinical setting for the students to be well-trained especially for those small private schools.seriously,what's the point of having overflowing of medical graduates with underquality? It will not help but literally creating more issues...

  5. Dear Jolynn,

    It's not that we have not think about this idea, sign a petition is a good idea, and I personally think that we should voice out what the medical students are currently thinking. When I was writing typing this article from my chairman, I am thinking and thinking again. Signing a petition has a lots of consequences we need to think about.

    Personally, not from SMMAMS Exco, I think that if we want to sign a petition to show our will against the mushrooming of new med school, first, we need to have a very strong membership strength!! thats from you all!!! then, we can use ICT e.g. Facebook fans page, website, forum, to gather all Malaysian medical students all around the places, do a survey and see the response. If only we have that much of STRENGTH of Members, then we can do something on it...

    Maybe SMMAMS can start a FB page like "Say NO to New Med School In Malaysia, We have ENOUGH!!!" (just a suggestion)...those campaign have a lots of consequences we need to take care of, so it requires careful planning.

    I personally do not like to think that WE CANT DO ANYTHING!! We can Do SOMETHING, provided we stand together and going to the same goal!!

  6. "Say NO to New Med School In Malaysia, We have ENOUGH!!!"

    This is true but sounds so cruel for those with the big dreams for curing or saving life don't we? Not an issue here anyway.

    The point would be government has to ensure there are quality clinical training for all medical students enrolled into that particular medical school or even grad from overseas. Experiences are the most valuable asset of all doctors.

    At the end of the day, we are all products from the current education system on this land. Medical profession is definitely not the gold mining profession people should sought for nowadays. It is all about life at the end of the day.

  7. Hello Vincent,

    With regards to your setbacks and consequences; that is the exact reason why I say that we're prolly not in a place to do anything.
    It's not like in the west where if you're not happy you have riots, or if you get 1000 signatures the government'll listen to you.

    We know what we want, but we don't know how to get about it efficiently. I'll sound like I'm going back on my words but truth is, how long will a petition take? How much effort and who will be responsible for it? Today I read in the newspaper that in order to attain thousands of signatures, the bank society set up booths everywhere; from shopping malls to election sites.

    Many opinions and negative perspectives applicable to our society today stem from an ignorance in the past. My point is that we should nip this problem in the bud before we reach the point where doctors are no longer trusted and our mistakes cost the patients something more than just money.

    I'm making it 4 cents.