Thursday, March 23, 2017

Housemen training

Provide basic needs for gruesome training

I refer to the letter “Long hours of ‘tagging’ must change with the times” {The Star 20 March}.

Of late there has been a lot adverse comments expressed on medical housemen training in our government hospitals. As a senior doctor I am compelled to give my input on this important issue. I tend to agree with Contract Doctor that many things are not so happy for the housemen doctors today. In fact the housemanship period had always been a very difficult time for those joining the fraternity at the lowest level of the medical hierarchy. This is more so today when the medical profession has become highly commercialized and doctors churned out in large numbers with poor screening for their aptitude and qualification.

The problem must be looked at objectively and addressed instead of blaming the housemen, their parents or the senior doctors and specialists training them. There little to gain by condemning the long hours of working for housemen as it is here to stay. It is a time-tested system and as has produced some great doctors later in life. The grueling long working hours is essential in the training of doctors to instill the discipline, responsibility, skills and the art of managing a patient which is often very difficult as there is never a text-book patient with a text-book illness.

What is needed in this gruesome training of housemen is proper guidance by the senior doctors and a little assistance from the administrators to make it more conducive to the young doctors to weather the storm. They must be made to feel at “home” and comfortable in their first ever working environment. Their basic needs have to be provided like they used to be before – reasonable food, time and place to rest and freshen up, better facilities for accommodation and leave as entitled. We must not forget that these young doctors in their mid-twenties, in a stressful life today, also need time for rest, recreation and exercise, as 2 years of housemanship is a very long time.

What has happened to the situation where houses officers were expected to stay in and provided with quarters within the hospital premises? I know for certain that besides working long hours without proper break for rest and meals, most of them are forced to stay outside as hostel facilities are not enough to accommodate the large number of housemen. Staying together in housemen quarters not only enable them to be there at all times but also helps to build the spirit of comradeship among them which goes a long way to building the team spirit and offer moral support for one another. Sadly today this facility is not available supposedly due to lack of funds. In some hospitals even food and proper restrooms are not provided for the housemen on call.

As Contract Doctor says the majority of housemen chose their path out of love for their job. The authorities must encourage them and not make them hate what they have set out to do. Specialists and super-specialists doctors do not fall from the sky but come from our young and inexperienced house officers today with all their short coming. Unless we set them on the right path by proper guidance now the future of medical care for the people will be doomed especially now when over-commercialization is disrupting the professionalism in the healthcare industry.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dinosaur Doctor Penang                                                                                                                                                                  

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