The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners' Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) is urging the health ministry to allow newly-graduated doctors to work as doctors' assistants.

This is in response to a statement made by Health Minister Dr. S Subramaniam last week stating that legal action will be taken against medical graduates who take up temporary jobs in clinics whilst waiting for their houseman posting.

“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.

There have been many cases of malpractice due to unqualified locum doctors and reports of unqualified medical graduates working in private clinics have been made despite a press statement made by the Director General of Health, Malaysia, which warned of legal actions to be taken against those who practice medicine without possession of a practicing certificate.

Loss of practical clinical skills and knowledge

However, the federation acknowledged it would take up to at least a year before medical graduates are offered houseman placements. They insisted that medical graduates who are not in practice during that lengthy period could lose basic clinical skills and knowledge due to the wait.

“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.

Many medical graduates have applauded the call and agreed with the federation that some skills will be indeed lost if not practiced.

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

MMA President John Chew only advised medical graduates to volunteer at health camps and medical charity projects, not supporting nor denying the federation's statement.

“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.

Extra posting locations provided by Malaysian Armed Forces

A week before Subramaniam's warning, Malaysian Armed Forces Chief Zulkifeli Mohd Zin announced on behalf of the Armed Forces, that medical students are able 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.” MIMS


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