Wednesday, October 10, 2012


MEDICAL TRIBUNE: 1-15 September 2012

House officers in the Ministry of Health are an unenviable lot these
days – well, in most aspects, I would
They seem to be able to do no right. These poor souls are being blamed for everything –
from the 36 medical colleges in the country (no demand, no supply, right?), to the ‘Houseman
Glut’ (as reported in The Star on 27 November 2010) and even their very own ‘shift system.’

It does not bode well for these new kids on the block when a few rotten apples, with poor attitude towards their work, give the entire team a bad image.

Not too long ago, it was a totally different scenario. 
House officers then very often never got a chance to see the sun rise (or set) for a few consecutive days.
Yet, they persevered and worked relentlessly to evolve, to be equipped to take on the world. It did not 
matter which university one graduated from (generally speaking). 

Most, if not all, were willing to be molded, were willing to learn and willing to discharge their duties to the best of their abilities. I dare say that it felt like military school being a house officer then.

 One had to be ‘broken’ in order to be rebuilt into a stronger, more resilient doctor. I suppose such training was the accepted norm then. 

Is it fair for us to expect these same standards from house officers today? Would this
‘new breed’ of doctors withstand the training dispensed in the days of yore? Times have
changed and so, too, the landscape as far as training is concerned.

On one hand, we have a system that is imploding – 36 medical universities and counting (producing over 7,000 doctors annually), thus forcing the shift system into being.

While on the other hand, we have non-stop interference from parents and relatives who 
believe they know best how a house officer should be trained!

 (Views) by  Dr. Sivabala Selvaratnam

My comment:
 1. The quality and attitude of many house officers of today, are appalling, to put it mildly.
2. They are a nightmare when we medical officers and specialists are on-call with them (recalling my times in government practice not too long ago).
3. To all houseofficers and medical students:
4. If you think housemanship and being a doctor is a glamorous job, you are in for a shock.
It ain't a bed of roses.
5. It will never be.
6. If you joined medical school because ..daddy or mummy says so, or because your teacher says so, you'll be sorry. Your attitude at work will show.
7. If you join medical school because you sincerely want to, and it is from your heart, then you'll be okay.

I have been a doctor for 27 years. I know.

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