Higher Education, Health take steps to ensure medical grads are competent
By LOH FOON FONG
Tuesday November 30, 2010PETALING JAYA: The Higher Education and Health ministries are working together to ensure a “satisfactory quality” of medical students graduating from abroad.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the two ministries were working together to ensure a “satisfactory quality” of medical students graduating from abroad, he said, responding to concerns raised over the quality of medical schools abroad following a recent report in The Star.
Those intending to study medicine abroad must first get a “certificate of no objection” from the Higher Education Ministry, he said.
“This is to ensure the quality among our medical graduates,” he said.
The report highlighted that about 4,000 Malaysian students were expected to graduate each year from 350 universities worldwide in the coming years, resulting in a high increase in the number of housemen but not enough training hospitals.
Responding to the front-page report, several sources here said the increasing number of housemen was partly due to the Health Ministry allowing students to study in lesser-known medical schools abroad that offered lower fees to overcome the acute shortage of doctors.
One source said the move had resulted in a glut of housemen and – if not controlled – could also result in a glut of doctors in the future.
“Public hospitals now have housemen who lack the core knowledge and basic expertise,” said several sources.
“When we started accepting virtually ‘any graduate from anywhere’ such as from Russia, Crimea (an autonomous republic under the jurisdiction of Ukraine) and Indonesian towns such as Makasar in Sulawesi, there was absolutely no control over the quality of training these students received or the quality of housemen entering our system,” said a source.
“Under such circumstances, the training of house officers is hit with a ‘double whammy’ – first, many of them entering the system had received poor training during their student days, and second, specialists find it difficult to cope with the large number and are unable to pay enough attention to get them to the quality required,” he said.
Providing more training hospitals, as suggested by Liow, would not solve but aggravate the problem because hospitals were poorly staffed by experienced doctors, he said.