Singapore luring top medical grads

PETALING JAYA: As Malaysia struggles to accommodate thousands of its medical gra­duates for housemanship, Singapore has “hijacked” the cream of the crop for its hospitals.

And Singapore does this by identifying the students even before they graduated by giving them provisional offers.

Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (Klang) physician Dr Tan Guo Jeng said a six to eight months wait for housemanship was too long and those who did not want to wait had taken up offers from Singapore.

“According to my contacts, Singapore has already given conditional offers to some 10 to 20 of our Universiti Malaya (UM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) medical students.

“And they have not even sat for their final exams,” he said during a dialogue with the Health Ministry and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) recently.

The dialogue was organised by the medical student movement, Malaysian Medics International (MMI).

Dr Tan said last year alone, Malaysia lost 50 to 60 of its UM and UKM graduates to Singapore.

UM Faculty of Medicine deputy dean Prof Dr Azad Hassan admitted that it faced the problem of losing its top medical graduates to Singapore.

“I don’t know how the Singaporeans know about our top students and contact them directly. For the past two or three years, we get 80 to 100 housemen a year.

“With the Health Ministry’s assistance, we’re now able to allow the top 20 or 30 to work in UMMC (University Malaya Medical Centre) and continue with their Masters programme. Hopefully with that, we can keep them locally,” he said.

MMI chairman S.S. Vikkinesh­waran ­said the students were identified by their seniors working in Singapore hospitals who would recommend them.

In his reply to Dr Tan’s question on mea­sures to stem the loss, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the ministry had to ensure a fair policy and could not give priority to UM and UKM gra­duates for housemanship.

If the Government catered for these groups, the ministry, he said, had to cater housemanship for them.

“This is a challenge we have. That’s why the entry qualification is important and MMC wants to recommend 5As (for SPM) so that we filter them from the beginning and not when they return with a degree recognised by MMC but with some students not performing well,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

He said the issue had been raised in the past by the Public Services Department (PSD).

“The PSD wants us to consider good students who graduated from Britain, for example, to be fast-tracked to do housemanship. But we look at whether one is qualified or not,” he said.

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