I WRITE emphatically as a senior member of the medical profession, and as a parent, that the proposed entry examination for foreign medical graduates should be limited to unrecognised medical faculties only.
This has been the practice all these years, and parents who are investing hundreds of thousands of ringgit, and now over a million ringgit per child, always make sure that their child enters a university or medical college that is recognised by the Malaysian Medical Council and hence the Health Ministry.
Many of these universities, especially in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, have a long established reputation of producing good medical graduates, especially those which are listed as belonging to the Ivy League.
Furthermore, many of these universities are listed in the top 100 in the world, very much higher than our local universities. Besides, a good percentage of these graduates are, in fact, government-sponsored scholars.
With due respect to the director-general of Health and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), clearly it does not make sense at all for Malaysia to suddenly impose an entry examination for every foreign graduate.
Doing so would send a negative signal to many of our best students out there who might then stay back wherever they are rather than return to their homeland.
This is exactly the opposite of what the Talent Corporation is doing, i.e to woo our graduates back home to serve the country.
Imposing a blanket entrance examination will cause a major obstacle, if not a nuisance, for all foreign graduates. All of us in the medical profession know very well that as a medical student, we invest a good five to six years in our studies, leaving very little time for our personal lives.
We face examination after examination of all sorts throughout our medical course, and the last thing any medical graduate would want to do is to take another examination just to be allowed to practise in their homeland when they are graduates of a recognised and reputable institution.
The MMC may give its assurance that this entrance examination is basic and easy to pass. That may be so for the first few years. Is there a guarantee that the examination format will not change, especially when advances in medicine are nearly exponential? Will the passing mark be pushed up, resulting in high failure rates as in the legal profession?
Even in the current qualifying examinations, there are already several issues as some graduates take a few years before qualifying and many quit after a few tries. The limited number of examinations often result in a long wait for each examination as well.
A compulsory preparatory course or attachment was also imposed on the graduates at a considerable cost, causing a burden to these graduates.
Experience tells us that when a law is imposed, it will be extremely difficult to reverse. It would be a very sad day for the medical profession if an entrance examination is imposed.
Will the Malaysian Medical Association take this matter up seriously and urgently, and speak up for the next generation of doctors yet to be trained?
DR K. H. SNG
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