New doctors may undergo housemanship at army hospitals: Malaysia health minister

KUALA LUMPUR - New doctors may soon undergo their housemanship at army hospitals as the Health Ministry struggles to cope with their large numbers.

"We will be raising the issue with the Defence Ministry to allow housemanship training at their hospitals," said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Speaking to reporters after opening a Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) seminar on housemanship training here yesterday, he said 3,700 new doctors enter the healthcare sector annually.

"There are certain hospitals with wards or units with 100 doctors," he said, adding that the ratio in some hospitals was two or three doctors to one patient.

Dr Subramaniam said that due to this, new doctors may not be getting adequate training, exposure and experience.

He said the ministry was looking at setting up a curriculum for housemen to complete to ensure they had the skills to be competent.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was hard-pressed to find places for new doctors to undergo the required two-year housemanship with a "waiting list" that grew by the day.

He said other measures being considered were to send these doctors to serve in primary care clinics, district hospitals and expanding the number of teaching hospitals.

In the long-term, he said the ministry was looking at addressing the huge number of students taking up medicine every year.

"We need to reduce these numbers. It won't be easy but we have started discussing this matter with the Education Ministry," said Dr Subramaniam.

MMA president Datuk N.K.S. Tharmaseelan said that unlike in the past, housemen today did not get the opportunity to perform or witness many procedures such as a cesarean delivery.

"It's easy for them to get disenchanted and disillusioned with becoming doctors because they lack confidence to manage patients on their own," he said.