Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Star: Parents should not pressure children to become Docs

The parent trap

Sunday Star, December 12, 2010, pg E11

ALTHOUGH there is a tendency to blame various parties in the housemen quagmire, parents should take a good look in the mirror and ask whether they contributed to the problem.

The adage goes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and Physicians for Social Responsibility vice president Datuk Dr Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir said that parental pressure is partly to blame for the quality of our housemen.

“Students who are pressured into medical school won’t make very good doctors as they lack interest in the first place ,” he told The Star.

“Parents should not ‘coax’ their children to learn something if they don’t have any interest in it.”

He added that misconceptions about the medical practice made things worse.

“Many think that the medical practice is lucrative but in reality, it is all a case of demand and supply,” he added.

“There were fewer doctors in the past so it was definitely better then, but things are becoming more competitive.”

Agreeing, Kim*, a doctor who completed her housemanship two years ago, said that she knew parents who “pushed” their children to unrecognised foreign institutions after they children failed to make the cut at local medical schools.

Turning to agents, these parents forked out tidy sums to ensure that their children obtained an MBBS regardless of the institution, even though their children felt otherwise.

“Such a pursuit only harms the student and this has wider implications,” she said.

“They may not get enough training at shoddy institutions, and they may end up endangering the lives of others if, or when, they come out to practice.”

Kim added that potential medical students and their parents had to be honest and realistic with themselves.

Pointing out that not everyone was cut out to be a doctor, Kim explained that achieving good grades was not an end in itself and a heart of servitude and a genuine love for people were needed as well.

Her views are shared by many and if Higher Education Ministry director-general Prof Datuk Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi had his way, there might be fewer medical students about.

“It (the acceptance of medical students) should be based on the students’ aptitude, their willingness to work hard, put in long hours and a genuine care for patients,” he said.

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