The Star, Tuesday Feb 8, 2011
MMA: Ｒａｉｓｅ ｔｈｅ ｂａｒ ｆｏｒ ｆｕｔｕｒｅ ｄｏｃｔｏｒｓ
by Joshua Foong
PETALING JAYA: There is growing concern about the quality of doctors that the country is churning out.
This is due to the low prerequisites allowed for preparatory medical colleges, known to accept SPM-level students with the minimum requirement of Bs in sciences.
From there, the students have a high chance of getting into universities in countries like Russia and Indonesia.
“There must be some quality or level of excellence before one can realistically aspire to be a doctor,” Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr David Quek told The Star.
“If one is not good enough there will be problems of quality later on when he or she becomes a doctor.
“It is not simply about getting a degree or a name. It has bearings on human life and patient safety,” he added.
“The association is unhappy that we are having so many routes to medical schools.
“We are creating an unrealistic atmosphere of easy entry for anyone who can afford to pay but whose scholastic ability may be way off the mark,” added Dr Quek.
Readers of The Star have also written in to express their concern on the many “shoplot medical schools.”
While medical universities require recognition by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) before their graduates can practise medicine, the council does not have the authority to regulate pre-university courses tied with medical degree programmes.
“We are now looking into the entry criteria for medical students, and if these are too low, then we have recommended remedial measures to limit these medical colleges from being recognised as acceptable standards,” said Dr Quek, who is a council member.
“We are also working with the Higher Education Ministry and its agencies to ensure that foundation courses be of acceptable standards and duration, and that only sufficiently qualified students are accepted,” he added.
Universiti Malaya physiology professor Dr Cheng Hwee Ming said a student also had to master the art of decision making besides having clinical skills.
Rheumatologist Dr Pagalavan Letchumanan, who has trained housemen and lectured for 13 years, said the key point should be clear standardisation for entrance requirements.
“If we regulate the intake of medical students, say through MMC-certified prerequisites, just like our medical degrees, we can be more assured of the quality of our future graduates,” he added.
Reading this piece of news is kind of like reading a page off my favorite comic book, because from the beginning, the title of the article sounds so wrong, so out-of-place, so out-of-touch. Since the tsunami tide of medical grads hit our local scene, with it, the bar had already been drowned off to Neverneverland. The title should sound something like ‘Put back the bar for future doctors’ instead of raising the bar.
If the readers are concerned over the ‘shoplot medical schools’, maybe the mainstream media should really spread out the frank truth that the main owner of those shoplots are some well-known (hopefully soon-to-be ex) political masters – AIMST – MIC, UTAR-Medical school – MCA, Manipal – another bigshot and etc.
Another thing that I beg to differ was easy entry for people with way-off scholastic ability are main reason for poor quality of doctors. We must first audit the accuracy of our present examination system in streamlining the scholar from the rubbish.
Trust me; some scholars can be real rubbish. The line between knowing what to do, and actually doing it can be a very substantially chunky broad divider.
As much as the medical schools should hand-pick the ‘scholar’ carefully, much more meticulous steps should be undertaken to prevent the rubbish in scholar clothings from creating mayhem in the society. It’s pretty much common sense that they will create more chaos than blatant rubbish, and worse, get away scot-free.
Dr Quek's full email interview here.