‘Let medical grads work as doctors’ assistants’


PETALING JAYA: The health ministry should allow newly-graduated doctors to work as doctors’ assistants, the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia said today.

The call comes after Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam warned medical graduates last week not to ruin their future by taking up temporary jobs in clinics while waiting for their houseman posting as legal action can be taken against them.

Acknowledging that it may take as long as a year before medical graduates are offered houseman placements, the federation feared that medical graduates could risk losing their basic clinical skills and knowledge during the year-long waiting period.

“The glut of new medical graduates in the current scenario of placement shortage needs innovative ideas to ensure continuing medical education for them.

“As such, the federation would like the support of the health ministry to encourage and allow these new graduate doctors to work as doctor’s assistants so that they can be mentored under senior private practitioners.

“That way, they can continue to be in touch with the practice of medicine and learn practical skills from experienced senior colleagues in private practice,” the federation said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, Margot Lim, who is a medical student currently doing her houseman stint in Sabah, lauded the call by the federation, describing it as “the best solution”.

“In doing that, we will not only be in touch with everything that we have learnt up to that point but will also be gaining new experiences in the field.

“There is no better solution,” Lim told FMT.

Bruce Ng, a medical student currently waiting for his houseman posting, agreed with Lim, adding that students on the waiting list, like himself, would gain “valuable knowledge”.

“It is the same in every field of work. Some things cannot be learnt from a book; they have to be picked up when we’re on the ground.

“That is exactly what housemanship is for. We can gain some extra experience as doctor’s assistants. It’s a great call,” said Ng.

However, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) refused to take a solid stand on the issue.

When contacted by FMT, MMA President John Chew advised medical graduates to volunteer at medical charity projects and health camps.

“Independent practice is allowed only after full registration. There are so many things to do – health education in schools or health camps.

“Their time could be gainfully used in doing projects such as charity projects,” said Chew.

The call by Subramaniam came last week, following reports of medical graduates working in private clinics.

“Medical graduates are not registered with the Malaysian Medical Council and do not possess a practising certificate to become medical officers. Therefore, they cannot simply work.

“Don’t use the fear of forgetting what you have learned as an excuse to do something illegal as you can be charged with impersonating a doctor,” Subramaniam warned.

Prior to Subramaniam’s warning, Malaysian Armed Forces Chief Zulkifeli Mohd Zin announced the Armed Forces’ decision to allow medical students to undergo training as housemen at military hospitals.

Zulkifeli described it as a “great opportunity to learn and improve their skills”.

“We do not open our medical centres to the public due to financial constraints but we do accept emergency cases when it involves members of the public from nearby areas. We also participate in a lot of community projects, locally and internationally.

“This is why we do not mind bringing in medical students for housemanship training.”