This is a response to a letter by Dr Johan Ariff Juhari to The Star, published on 17th December 2011.
I praise the positive attitude to learn, shown by young doctors like Dr Johan. But I believe that as a house officer in his first posting, it is too early for him to make a fair judgement on our training system in Malaysia. What more in Orthopaedic Department, my colleagues would agree that his view doesn't reflect the reality on the ground.
We young doctors who demand changes are wrongly portrayed as pampered with bad attitude, due to unfair selective descriptions perpetuated in the media. On our talk with Dato' Dr Hassan, our current Director General of Health, I as a sixth poster house officer at that time, urged him to make the change to the system, even though there were people who were against it, especially the senior doctors. We would like to thank him for his courage to enforce the shift system.
We believe that the sudden influx of young doctors is compensated with the introduction of a longer 2-years housemanship training programme comprising of 4 months stints in six departments. These experiences have made us a more all-rounded young doctors. Senior housemen are more calm in handling emergencies and more well trained in doing manipulations such as rapid sequence intubation(RSI) than a minority of senior doctors, in my observance.
Not belittling the importance of exposure to patients, we have observed senior doctors, handling pediatric or pregnant patients, who had not had experience working in Pediatric or Obsteric & Gynecology departments, within the previous 1-year housemanship training programme. We as senior housemen sometimes do feel that we are in a better position to manage these patients.
Young doctors hope that we stopped looking at patients as mere 'intermediary' for training, but rather their health and rights as the central pillars of our healthcare system. We need to admit and remind ourselves that overworked doctors especially trainee doctors are hazardous to patients.
Rather than defending the status quo, I urge my fellow colleagues to use that extra hours to sharpen and deepen their knowledge to what they had learnt during their working hours. This is a change to a routine work-exhausted-home-sleep-work daily cycle.
As my colleagues who worked in university hospitals, where housemen intake are less and work are more, said, "I just do the work, but sometimes I do not have the time to learn what I am doing."
With the new shift system, we hope our fellow generation of doctors would strive and push themselves to become better doctors than the previous generation in terms of knowledge, skills, ethics and profesionalism.