PETALING JAYA: Medical students are anxious about the lack of job security and career progression in the field following the “Hartal Doktor Kontrak” (Contract Doctors’ Strike) movement.
Ler Thean, a third-year International Medical University student, said she had thought she would be able to become a specialist but is now thinking of ways to venture out of medicine after completing her studies.
“I would probably do health advocacy instead of working in the hospital.
“I feel there is still a future in medicine but only if there is a change to the system where everyone has an equal and fair opportunity to practise medicine.
“I do not expect to see drastic changes overnight but if permanent contracts cannot be given to all Malaysians who are practising medicine, the terms could possibly be altered to allow all medical officers to have a chance to specialise at least.
“Although there are many housemen and doctors in Malaysia, there is actually a lack of specialists,” she added.
St George’s University of London, United Kingdom, third-year medical student Ian Soh said given the current challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s already difficult enough to keep up with online learning.
“Now, observing the voiceless appeals of junior doctors in Malaysia and learning about the contract doctor issue at hand, I feel discouraged,” he said.
Universiti Putra Malaysia fifth-year medical student Muhammad Adib Farhan Abdullah said he feels disheartened about a possible stagnant career development in the field.
He hopes the “Hartal Doktor Kontrak” movement will trigger policymakers to reboot the system for everyone’s benefit.
“There are brilliant suggestions from professionals on how to handle this situation,” he added.
On Monday, medical officers on contract, and pharmaceutical officers and dental officers in some hospitals in the country staged a half-hour walkout to push for permanent positions in the public service under the Health Ministry.
A mother who only wanted to be known as Jaya said she hopes to see the contract doctor system abolished.
Her daughter will be starting her first year in a private medical college this September.
“Medicine is not an easy discipline to get into; securing a place and pursuing it takes plenty of determination and grit.
“Not all of them have the ability nor the means to pick up, leave and start afresh in a foreign land.
“It may simply be impossible, having invested heavily in their medical education.
“So what is the solution for them?” she asked.