Thursday, September 20, 2012

House Officers shift polemic

When i was back home, there was this front page news about the hoo-haa of the shift system. And it was based on Ismail Merican's "worry" for the future of the healthcare system. I was not too keen on his views as honestly, it was during his tenureship that all this so called rot started! I wrote a reply.. but of course, not all came out and "nicely" edited!

September 9, 2012

HOUSEMEN: Shift system the way forward

I AGREE that the training of medical practitioners in Malaysia is at a crossroads. There has been a lot of criticism against the shift system for housemen, which was the quickest theoretical answer to cope with the exponential influx of new doctors into the healthcare system.
The majority of healthcare providers are not familiar with it and are resistant to change. But the shift system is the way forward.
It should be noted that developed countries, whose training schemes are recognised worldwide, have long replaced the on-call system with the shift system.
Unfortunately, the way it is implemented here is not holistic. There was minimal reformation to the healthcare sector as a whole.
Supervisors who were not trained in the shift system had tangential expectations of their junior officers based on their own experience.
The on-call system thrived on the fact that one person was doing five people's jobs. As far as I can recall, there was never any supervision and we were forced to survive.
Even though I went through it myself, I don't think it is humane to allow future generations of doctors to be treated in such a manner.
Housemen are doctors and not labourers. The new generation should not be focused on whether they can do their work but make an effort to understand their tasks and manage their patients effectively.
They should not be trained to be just doctors, but have leadership skills to manage not just patients but also the resources around them.
What our system needs is greater effort from the "teachers" -- the experienced consultants.
Unfortunately, there are no rewards for them and their efforts are not recognised. We have the best facilities, the best doctors (there are vast numbers of Malaysian clinical consultants overseas) but all these are not matched by an excellent system. It is, however, not impossible to have one.
Why stop at housemen training when what should be done is to come up with a blueprint for the training of future generations of doctors?
The scenario now is different from what it was years ago. Lifelong learning should be encouraged among medical professionals as medicine is evolving dramatically.

Mafeitz, Perth.

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