Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A letter from an ex-government specialist

Here's another letter which might be of interest to you guys.
As a senior retired government specialist, I wish to comment on junior doctors and their current two-year housemanship training. As the saying goes, “The writing is on the wall!”
If doctor after doctor, and parent after parent write in to complain to the press that something is not right, then “Something is not right!”, and the authorities concerned must look into it.
Some years ago, a patient died during surgery in Britain due to an error by a trainee doctor. The Health Ministry investigated and came to the conclusion that the trainee doctors were overworked. It then introduced a rule capping the maximum hours of work that any trainee doctor is allowed per week.
Currently, I understand that some of our young doctors work for up to 90 hours a week! With a two-shift system, the hours will definitely be long. Thus, giving a day off after a gruelling six-day week, is hardly the remedy.
Many of us “elderly” doctors will recall our time when we were the only houseman in the ward and we worked seven days a week, often twice a week being on call i.e. working up to 36 hours in a stretch.
However, there was a major difference then. We could often get off by evening and be home for dinner with the family if we were not on call. On Saturdays, we worked till 2pm and were free for the rest of the day. On Sundays, we come in early to do our rounds and we were free after that. Work then officially began at 8am and ended at 5pm.
Not so now. Many of the young doctors start their shift as early 7am and work till 5pm or up to 10pm during their tagging period, which can go on for a few weeks. And this routine goes on through the weekend.
When on call, they begin as early as 5pm or 6pm and work through until 11am the next day.
Their social life is effectively “zero” for two years. Housemanship duration was a year previously, until recently.
My sympathies go to the young mothers, who have husbands and perhaps infants and toddlers to look after, besides their ageing parents or in-laws. Those two years will definitely be their most challenging, if not depressing working years.
The least sympathy, as always, will come from the senior doctors, who are forever saying, “We went through all that and survived. Why can’t you stop grumbling and get on with your work!”
This attitude is incorrect and not forward-looking. It is time for the senior doctors and administrators change their mindset.
For a start, we had houseman quarters located within walking distance from our place of work. Hence, we could walk back and flop into our beds within minutes. Now, the young doctor has to travel a distance and risk falling asleep at the wheel.
Secondly, in the name of progress, working conditions should improve and not worsen.
While we worked hard, we enjoyed our work and had good rapport with our seniors and consultants, except for a few notorious “tyrants”.
Working as a doctor should be fun and stimulating, if there is good team work and understanding from the boss downwards. There should never be bullying or intimidation.
We need to review the way we carry out our work, too.
In the past, the trainee doctor may be working under one medical officer and one specialist, hence doing daily rounds with the medical officer and once or twice a week with the specialist.
With the increase in the number of medical officers and specialists on the team, the trainee doctor may have to do several rounds a day with the medical officer, the specialists and the consultants.
The fact that we went through that tough and strenuous path before does not necessarily mean that we can apply the same method to train our younger ones.
The medical training programme is already a rigorous five to six years. Add in another two years of unpleasant work conditions, and we do not produce a healthy generation of able doctors.
We should be nurturing the next generation and encourage them to rise to greater heights, by setting good examples for them to emulate.
Kuala Lumpur


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  2. Yup. New H0 syndrome. Feeling terrible n hopeless and all. I feel you.

    Being an M0 wont get you any better. I am a junior m0. But i have few fellow senior m0s who keep telling me that theyre sick of their job ans wanna quit like everyday. Lol. Dont ask how did i survive my H0ship.. Cuz i also have no idea. I am a jpa scholar, the money kept me going i suppose. Yes. It is depressing. I am sorry. So please just get out while u can. The superiors, most of them, they just wont listen and they wont care.
    Go find something u wanna do. And if there is way for it.just get the hell out.


  3. Dear Danny,

    I stumbled upon your blog as I was reading about why one in five houseman quits. I am a family medicine specialist and lecturer in a local medical university. As I read your blog and the various comments posted, I do really feel for you guys. I completely agree with you that being a houseman is not easy and many find it tough. I myself had also gone through a lot of hardships during those times. I remember I almost quitted a few times. However, my passion for the profession and good social support helped me through those hard times.

    For those of you who really aspire to be doctors but find houseman training tough, always remember that housemanship is only for a PERIOD OF TIME. It's just a SEASON of time you need to pass through. Once it's done, it's done. You'll look back on it with fond memories knowing that you have tough it in and out and suceeded.

    However, for those who don't really want to be a doctor, I agree totally with Danny. Just quit! Don't worry about what people have to say about your decision because YOU are living YOUR life and not THEM. You have the right to choose what is right for you. Don't be afraid to explore and try new things. I have friends who quitted during and after housemanship because they realised being a doctor was just not their cup of tea.

    I hope I have encouraged some of you guys out there. All the best!!!

    1. Dear doc, i just want to tell you that with the extension of training period nowadays is just as simple as spelling abc (kena gosip dengan MO and then it's over), plus crazy working condition (scolding upgraded to psychotic gang-banging by a group of MOs registrar and specialist during rounds, increasing amount of legal suits by patients and relatives (HO pun kena sekarang) and very bad perception and thoughts by everyone around you, being extended for whatever reason in akin of passing a death sentence to those unlucky HOs, especially the slow, lousy, "targeted" one. Yes you're right on the fact that as full grown adult, those HOs are mature enough to decide on their own future, and nobody including those "during my time" senior doctors has the right to condemn then for choosing their own path; to either continue with the training or to start a new life at other fields/profession. My advice to all HOs who really have decided to quit, just ignore the callings, condemnations and degrading remarks made by some of narcassitic, perverted, egomaniac psychopath MOs and specialists who seems to love seeing their own subordinates suffer in the name of "toughening up" bullcrap. Good luck.

  4. Hello. I've been reading some of ur entry since I've been thinking to quit HOship. Medicine is just not my thing. But before quitting as a doctor, i need a backup plan so that i'm able to pay my car and all other bills. Need some advice from u or perhaps suggestions where can i get a job that suitable wit the qualification that I have. Already try jobstreet but haven't got any reply from them

    1. Bro,employees at jobstreet won't entertain your request for jobs other than medical field for certain reasons; they are suspicious of your real motive, they personally want you to continue with the training, interference from some of "during my time" senior and old docs etc. Don't waste your time and money on applying for new jobs directly on the jobstreet; with stories about huge number of HO's leaving the profession or thinking of sending resignation letter to hr at respective hospitals (I think the numbers would be higher shall the psd waived the 10 years bond from ur scholarship contract), people out there would think thousand times before giving us medical graduates jobs at their respective companies, in fear of us leaving the job easily like our comrades did at govt hospitals. I am considered lucky enough to be able to get a new job without having to pay a huge sum of money for breaking psd scholarship contract (there's a way to do that), and based on my observation jobs that only require basic degree (any discipline) like management-level jobs at fast food restaurants are open to MD/MBBS holders provided that they properly resigned and passed both the interview and entrance exam. But I want to remind you that the job is not easy as you think, and the paycheck is not as luxurious as HO's, so be prepared for a very humble lifestyle (if you're already buy a honda city or semi d house then please think again). Be alert for open interview style job carnivals like azam kerja 1 malaysia, as there are lots of new companies that participate in job recruitment session, and if you're lucky enough you might be able to secure a new job there.Good Luck.

    2. May I please know how are you able to get a job without breaking the PSD contract?

  5. planning to 2 years working as mo.....has always thinking of quit even since medical school.....its just that i dont know how to answer if they asked me why do you want to quit? Why you endured this much if you want to quit from the beginning? What you gonna do after you quit how to live? I dont have answer for all the questions above but i really want to quit.....please help me if you got any idea on how to answer all those question above.....tq

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  7. For those who still seeking for job i suggest u guys to go for preclinical teaching.. starting at ds45(quite good paycheck) and of course a better Quality of life.. some uni even do walk in interview for this post and of course there is bonding to the Uni..or u can apply for the Master programme fron any uni ..the course cost about RM17k for 2 years of studying.. good luck

    1. dear syuraihoo. can u please explain further how to apply to get into the preclinical teaching. i am looking forward to be one of it, but i have no idea how to get into it. thank you

  8. just resigned few days ago.
    next week will joining personal fitness training course for 1 month to pursue dream in the fitness industry

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  10. Hi there.. I'm planning to quit.. I'm now in my 4th posting as well.. can't handle the stress.. if u don mind.. can I have a look at your resume for the underwriter.. u can mail me at

  11. Hi Danny. How is life? Any regret?

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  14. Hi Danny. Are u still an Underwriter? I'm planning to quit as HO soon. Just want to ask you regarding the life of Underwriting now as i am quite interested to be one. How is the salary for the Underwriter now & can u recommend me which Insurance company is the best for me to consider?
    And if you are free can you help me how to apply for it? Thanks in advance