The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that medical graduates will be provided counselling and job exposure to the medical career before starting housemanship to prepare them for the workload and stress they would face.

Health Minsiter Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the relevant departments have been directed to address the stress problems faced by housemen who disappear and could not be traced. They would also be given the choice of completing their housemanship at other hospitals if recurring problems occur at hospitals they currently serve.

"If they find that working in one particular place is stressful... we even give them the choice to go to another hospital. See if the change can help them," he added.

Stress the key cause of disappearances

This was in response to Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, Chief Secretary to the Government, who revealed that doctors recorded the most absenteeism cases in the civil service, mostly involving housemen who might be stressed out.

"There are hospital interns, also known as housemen, who go missing for up to 400 days at a time. They were let go because of this," said Dr Ali.

"This is a huge problem and we need to find the root cause and fix it but I have a feeling it is because of the pressure of their jobs," he added.

The MOH reported that each year, at least 20% to 30% of medical graduates could not complete the two years of housemanship due to stress at the workplace.

Many other factors to consider

Dr Ali said this was a waste as most have studied and graduate from institutions abroad on government scholarships. 

Sponsoring a medical student's studies overseas could amount to RM1 million or more, and while the cost of education in local institutions is just a fraction of that, it was still a "hefty sum", he said.

Ali also pinpointed on the policy of permitting housemen to follow their spouses overseas for study purposes as another possible reason why many disappear from work. He added that he has spoken to relevant managers to review the policy.

He also cautioned parents against forcing their children to become doctors, adding, "There are many doctors who only became doctors because their parents forced them do it. This is one of the reasons they may face pressure once they start working."

He urged the Public Service (PSD) and the MOH to resolve the issue as this had an effect on the professional reputation of medical practitioners. MIMS

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