Ambiguous Future for Medical Graduates
Three years ago, the Malaysian government enacted a five year moratorium on medical courses to combat the increasing amount of medical graduates in the country. One of the most sought after courses in Malaysia is put on hold for a few years.
Why does this happen?
According to Malaysian Medical Association, in 2010 itself, there are 27,709 doctors in Malaysia and this does not include 3,651 house officers which are currently practicing in our local hospitals.
The sharp rise in medical schools in recent years from 10 to more than 40, each collectively produce from 3,500 to 5,000 medical graduates annually. In addition to medical schools both accredited and non-accredited outside of Malaysia, the number of doctors produced is quite large for a population of 27 million.
The main problem seen by the government to impose this moratorium is to avoid overcrowding of house officers in training hospitals in Malaysia. This could lead to a more serious problem. “Currently in government hospitals there are about 60 doctors in one unit, so how are they going to learn this way?” stated Datuk Dr N.K.S Tharmaseelan, the ex-president of Malaysian Medical Association.
A few years back, with only a few doctors in one unit, they can get sufficient training in managing a patient. However, with 60 doctors, how can they get enough training for the skills they require to become competent doctors? An incompetent doctor is dangerous to the patient he or she treats as they could cost someone’s life.
Furthermore, with the surplus of medical officers in health care services, we might encounter a medical graduate who alternatively works as a hawker stall owner or a school teacher one day. According to Health Ministry Report, 21,765 out of 28,309 vacancies for medical officers have been filled. Following the projection of previously stated numbers, the vacancies are most probably filled.
A doctor who wants to practice in Malaysia has to do one-year compulsory work as a medical officer locally. For not being able to fulfill the compulsory requirement, where and what is he going to do without a license? This is unfair, as all the hard work during his medical studies go wasted.
On the other side, the increasing number of medical graduates is actually an advantage for a developing country like ours which has a growing population. The World Health Organization’s standard doctor-to-patient ratio is 1:600. The government aims to reach this ratio by 2015 and the current numbers are promising.
Based on the statistics provided by the Health Ministry, the doctor-to-patient ratio by 2011 stands at 1:940, which is quite an improvement from 1:190 approximately 13 years prior. This could actually spur our country’s healthcare standards to greater heights if managed properly.
As you can see, the increasing number of medical graduates has a benefit for the country’s strive to become a medical hub in the near future. However, based on the statistics earlier, a proper planning is needed to accommodate the rise of medical graduates with quality training prior to be licensed medical officers.
The government and authorities in the medical field need to emphasize quality more than quantity. Eventually, the oversupply of medical graduates can be controlled and transformed into a resource of our country’s growth.
Written by :
Nik Ahmad Hafiz Bin Nik Ahmad Eid
3rd Year, Faculty Of Medicine,
Ain Shams University.