Hospitals with training slots for housemanship will open up more vacancies to accommodate for housemen, according to Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

“At the moment, we have a total of 10,835 housemen in 44 teaching hospitals and Royal Military Hospitals nationwide,” he said.

“The ministry plans to include Hospital Shah Alam and Hospital Langkawi in the list of houseman training hospitals. These hospitals have stated that they are willing to increase the number of training slots for housemen,” he added.

Contract jobs offered to address long wait

During the Budget 2017 address, it was announced that the Ministry of Health (MOH) will employ 9,300 health officers, including housemen, dental officers and pharmacists on contract this year.

The initiative, according to Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr John Chew, is a measure to address the long wait faced by medical graduates, who are unable to secure slots for housemanship due to insufficient posts available.

He said that training hospitals are also unable to cope with the influx of medical graduates from local and foreign universities, which may have resulted in a backlog of junior doctors awaiting placement.

According to Hilmi, the Public Service Commision has already interviewed 3,474 medical graduates, with 1,687 of them already offered placements in hospitals for training since December 2016.

However, concerns regarding the limited training spots have yet to dissolve.

Promise of a secure career in medicine now “a thing of the past”

Last week, a spokesman for the Malaysian Pre-Houseman Joint (MPHJ), Dr Muhammad Firdaus Syukri Zubaidi, voiced concerns over the limited availability of housemanship training in Malaysia, which is only provided by accredited public hospitals and university teaching hospitals in the country.

“Yet, as the number of graduates has increased in the past five years, the number of training centres and houseman post has remained relatively static,” said Firdaus.

“The private sector is not willing to employ a doctor without a full medical license, whilst other countries have laid out strict entrance and linguistic examinations for foreign doctors,” he said.

“Thus, neither the private sector nor working abroad are viable options for the junior doctor – public service is the only option,” Firdaus explained, adding that the policies set by the Public Service Department as well as the Health ministry have left medical graduates in a “catch-22 predicament.”

The increasing number of medical graduates has also resulted in a disproportionate mismatch in supply and demand for vacancies in houseman training, according to Firdaus. The limited posts available would result in graduates waiting many more months before they are able to enrol into housemanship.

“And as the number of medical graduates increase year by year, so does the waiting period for housemanship, extended longer and longer,” he added.

“The promise of a secure career in medicine is now a thing of the past.”

Hilmi: Current moratorium will address overflow of junior doctors

According to the MPHJ spokesman, medical graduates of 2013 waited for an average of three months before starting housemanship, while graduates of 2016 have yet to be employed after eight months of waiting.

However, Hilmi has said that the existing moratorium on new medical programmes at universities and tertiary education institutions will address the oversupply of medical graduates and restore the balance in demand and supply.

“Under the moratorium, we have been able to ensure there will be no more new medical courses on top of the 44 programmes already in place locally,” Hilmi said.

“However, we cannot stop potential students from enrolling in the 335 accredited tertiary institutions overseas,” he added. MIMS

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