Wednesday August 1, 2012
Trainee medical lecturers still waiting for answer
I REFER to the letter “Still awaiting agreed salary upgrade” by Frustrated Trainee Lecturer (The Star, June 6). I was also a trainee medical lecturer who recently completed my specialist training course under the Masters programme in a local university.
I joined a public university in 2007 and ever since my salary grade has been stagnant at DU45 despite completing my Masters and becoming a specialist.
I will still need to wait another six months to a year before I can be upgraded to DU52 according to the current scheme.
My university does not have its own hospital so we teach medical students in a Health Ministry (MOH) hospital. I also run my specialty clinics and do my ward rounds with the MOH doctors.
Frequently, I meet my juniors who are still medical officers in the same hospital and I find it extremely embarrassing and demotivating to see them getting a higher pay grade of UD48 and some even UD52 while I still languish at DU45 despite being a more senior doctor and a specialist.
A common misconception is that trainee medical lecturers are not fully qualified lecturers; hence they do not deserve to be given a higher grade than DU45.
This point has been harped on by the university registrars, the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) and the Public Service Department (PSD) ever since this issue was brought to their attention when the MOH upgraded the salaries of doctors in March 2010.
Even though trainee medical lecturers are not fully qualified lecturers, they are definitely fully qualified doctors and as equally qualified as the doctors in the MOH.
Trainee medical lecturers perform the same type of clinical work plus extra teaching duties.
If these doctors in the MOH are getting the pay grade of UD48 and UD52 based on seniority, why should the doctors who are trainee medical lecturers be denied this?
Ever since the MOH announced time-based promotion for doctors serving under them, there has been a drought of doctors joining the public universities as trainee medical lecturers.
It is counter intuitive for a person to give up a higher paying job for a lower paying one. As a result, many public universities have to employ foreign contract medical lecturers to fill this void and end up paying a higher salary to these expatriates than what a local lecturer would have normally been paid.
Many local doctors who are interested in lecturing are deprived of the opportunity to become medical lecturers. When these expatriates leave, as they eventually will, who will guide our medical students to become doctors to serve the people?
We have appealed to our universities, the MOHE and the PSD for two years highlighting this injustice, yet every time our appeals fall on deaf ears. How much longer do we have to wait?