Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Exodus of medical lecturers alarming

The mass exodus of senior lecturers from public medical schools as reported in the media is a serious cause for concern which should addressed with great urgency. In fact the brain drain was waiting to happen, it was only that the authorities were blind and arrogant to ignore it. 

The acute shortage of senior lecturers has resulted in some clinical departments being closed down leading to not just students facing difficulty in clinical training but patients being denied treatment at the clinics run by the medical lecturers who are specialists in the their fields of medicine. Not only medical students’ needs to be trained but postgraduate doctors too need specialised units and expertise for their training to become specialists themselves. The MMA says there are  almost 40,000 medical graduates in the country to become specialist and consultants.Who is going to train them if we keep losing invaluable, experienced and senior clinicians cum lecturers? 

The government keep insisting it is due to poor enumeration in public universities that are driving lecturers out. It asks them to be more realistic and not be guided by greed but be willing to sacrifice a little in their service to the nation. The lecturers say that that money may be a just a consideration but the bigger factor is the total lack of appreciation for their services in which they excel. Excessive politicking, poor administration and favoritism, based on race and politics, are listed as the main causes for them leaving public universities. Private colleges may pay more but the perks and  training facilities are badly lacking as most private medical schools do not have their own hospitals to practice their skills in the various disciplines they are trained.

Not only public medical schools, even private ones are facing acute shortage of lecturers. Many of them are so acutely short that it has begun to affect the quality of the graduates they churn out in large numbers. To add to this problem of lecturer shortage, the colleges have increased the number of students. It is shocking that some colleges take in as much as 400 - 500 students a year, divided into 2 batches. How can you effectively train over 200 medical students in each batch especially during their clinical years in the wards?

The unacceptably large number of public and private medical schools in the country is the main cause of the problem facing our medical education today. There at present more than 30 medical schools in the country capable of churning out about 5,000 doctors yearly. These fresh doctors need to be trained before they are sent out to the various hospitals and clinics to attend to patients. Declining quality of our medical graduates will soon be an invariable consequence of this large number of trainees in each batch. 

The commercialization of medical education must stop and measures taken to not just raise salaries but give better facilities and promotions based on merits. Heads of departments must be people with merits and deserving not political stooges. The truly good, dedicated and skilled specialist lecturers must be duly appreciated and rewarded regardless of their ethnicity or political affiliation.

The exodus of specialists and lecturers must be stopped at all costs if we want to progress. These may be difficult tasks for the present administration but unless they do that, our standards of medical education will soon deteriorate to levels from which we will never be able to recover. At recent meeting with the DPM concerned top MMA officials warned that Malaysia will closed down if racism continues. Will the PM and his team take this warning seriously remains to be seen?

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