I REFER to the report, “Varsities losing medical lecturers” (The Star, May 20). The problem of inadequate medical lecturers is also faced by private medical colleges and universities.
There are approximately 33 medical institutions of higher education with about 42 different medical programmes offered by them. It is distressing to note these numbers which are in excess.
Many of the private medical colleges and universities cut corners by engaging expatriate medical lecturers from Myanmar, Pakistan, and the Middle-East or from other developing countries. Many of them are unable to blend into the local education system and the quality of education is sacrificed.
These faculty members are also exploited with low remuneration and poor terms of contract. It is not uncommon to see some private universities, especially in the Klang Valley, having more expatriate medical lecturers than local faculty members.
There is also a tendency for many of the universities to hire junior lecturers instead of senior medical lecturers. I am surprised the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) closes an eye to the manner in which these educational institutions hire expatriate lecturers and junior faculty members in preference over local or senior faculty members.
Some of the private medical education institutions have not even given pay increments or bonuses to their local administrative and academic staff who have served more than three to four years in their institutions. How does one expect the academic staff to be committed?
Terms of contracts are blatantly abused. It is timely regulatory bodies, especially MMC and Malaysian Qualification Agency, set some guidelines and compel these institutions to toe the line on the recruitment of foreign medical lecturers.
There have to be some guidelines on the number of professors, associate professors or lecturers a medical college should hire as well as a cap on the number of foreign expatriate medical faculty members.
Many of the private medical colleges tend to hire retired senior doctors who sat in administrative positions for a long time to key academic positions in the private universities upon retirement.
This is only in the hope these senior doctors can network with the government hospitals to send students to Ministry of Health hospitals for their clinical postings. However, medical lecturers will have to have different traits to be good in their work and deliver the subject matter.
Another area of concern is the manner the private medical colleges and universities are allowed to utilise the government hospitals for years. It is imperative that private medical institutions of higher learning are given a reasonable time frame to build their own teaching hospitals.
Private medical universities will also need to have good spacious campuses to accommodate students. These include hostels, recreational activity areas, sporting facilities like gymnasium, swimming pool, football fields and tennis courts within the campuses itself.
Some of these private medical institutions circumvent this by just renting some sporting facility that is far away just for the purpose to document them during accreditation visits by regulatory bodies. One established private medical college in Malacca and Johor does have a good wholesome campus that is conducive for student learning.
I hope the government will look into the matter with urgency. Medical education cannot be commercialised. All of us, now or later will need medical services for ourselves. Employing local qualified medical educationists is of paramount importance to nurture and mould the future doctors of the country.
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