Tuesday October 4, 2005
Don’t waste these talents
IT IS good to read newspaper reports that the Government is keen on increasing the number of doctors in the country to improve the doctor-patient ratio.
However, one should not underestimate the number of Malaysian medical graduates and sub-specialists working overseas. What about trying to facilitate their return?
Many Malaysian doctors I know are keen to return. However, we all share the same fear, that after having trained for up to 10 years in our areas of sub-specialty, even in a top US or British hospital, that when we return, we are forced to work as housemen, in whichever department we are assigned to.
I know of a laparoscopic surgeon who was trained in New York and was not given the job he had trained for when he returned.
I also know of a Malaysian anaesthesiologist who spent 10 years in the United States, who was made to work in obstetrics when he returned.
Never mind that he hadn’t delivered a baby in five years. Despite his love for Malaysia, he left. He is now working happily in Canada, earning more than 10 times what he was offered back home.
I do know of some surgeons and internal medicine graduates, who were lucky enough to work in their areas of expertise, but I also know of many who were not that lucky.
There are at least 100 Malaysian doctors here, training in various specialties such as oncology, internal medicine, paediatrics, surgery and psychiatry.
Think about how this would help with Malaysia's aim to increase the number of doctors.
I am training in internal medicine and endocrinology in one of the top US hospitals.
Personally, I would be fearful of returning and being made to work in a department like paediatrics, or obstetrics, because the last time I looked after these patients was five years ago.
The fact is, many of us will spend half a decade or more training in our areas of expertise, so why assign us something we are no longer familiar with?
And why waste our knowledge in an area that is wanting more specialists?
As it is, many would undoubtedly take a huge salary cut by returning, yet for many of us, home will always be home, and we would like to contribute too to Malaysian society.
I hope no additional roadblocks or deterrents like this turn us away. Perhaps this system needs to be made more transparent, because for now it seems to be up to the whim and fancy of the person in charge.
Perhaps the Malaysian Medical Council could enlighten us on this matter.
Minnesota, United States.