Now parents get into the act

I am amazed that the Star reports Parents of housemen want Govt to put an end to the misery

PETALING JAYA: Parents of housemen are calling for government intervention on allegations that housemen are constantly bullied and ridiculed by senior doctors besides being forced to work up to 16 hours daily.
A parent from Selayang, who only wanted to be known as Ahmad, 58, said his son and daughter-in-law, who are both undergoing housemanship, had complained of bullying at their hospitals.
“They said many housemen had quit because they could not take the pressure and the bullying by the senior doctors,” he said, adding that housemen were also ridiculed in front of patients and visitors.
Ahmad also claimed the senior doctors made uncalled-for statements such as: “You do not deserve to be here” and “You are only here because you are a rich man’s son/daughter”.
Ahmad added that housemen at some hospitals hardly had any work to do because there were too many of them at one hospital, while other housemen were working between 14 and 16 hours a day because there were not enough doctors.
“They are at the mercy of seniors who evaluate them. The ministry does not gather feedback from the housemen to see if they were being evaluated objectively,” he said.

The responsibility of senior doctors is first and foremost patient safety. Housemanship is a harsh training ground and there is little room for mistakes since lives are at stake. If the houseman is weak or poorly trained, then he or she would expect to be told off more than if he or she were more competent. Surely those entering medical school too should be aware that a doctors life is a hard one. To quote Martin Fischer

A doctor must work eighteen hours a day and seven days a week. If you cannot console yourself to this, get out of the profession

Dear parents, your children are all grown up now. Welcome to the working world.


Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast

14 Comments on “Now parents get into the act

  1. But does Martin Fischer include any phrase “to suffer bully, discrimination and harsh words from your superior for 18 hours a a day, 7 days a week?”

    Wake up, seniors and seniors-to-be, working long hours is fine, that’s is the understandable requirement but definitely not bullying and non-sense harsh words from you all, for nothing actually (it doesn’t improve houseman performance anyway instead it did cause unnecessary anxiety and depression!).

    Stop being ignorance and denying. Whenever we try to compare the working system in western to our local system, then you will keep using your immature defense mechanism i.e, rationalizing all your inhuman behaviors. Stop arrogantly saying that you had face similar before and survived handsomely. Time has changed, human life had improve for the better, slavery system and alike should and had long been ended.

    Treat us like human and as your junior colleague and we will give you the utmost respect and sincerity to learn many thing we should and work ethically. Last word, I also have a quote “You throw us rubbish, then we give you shit.. you give us a flower, we give back you a perfume”

  2. Perhaps the housemen nowadays should ask “Why are we housemen treated as such?” The hours of work is part and picture of the life of a doctor so its quite unreasonable to complain. I am sure most doctors are aware of this. The recent call system is from the higher powers so go to them to complain. I would think that part of the problem comes from ill prepared/poorly trained housemen (no offence meant for the individual) The consultants would rightly expect a certain level of knowledge and competence from the young doctors. (Mismanagement puts his head on the chopping block too). And when this is not seen, would you blame him/her for losing his/her head? Again this has come about because of the “system”-ill qualified or brilliant but unsuitable students getting into medical colleges (The recent JPA bursary/scholarship awards for 9a+ students without interviews would probably invite more disasters).

    So where does this leave us? More frustrations and heartaches for everybody-consultants, medical officers and housemen.Patients suffer as a result. Only a revamp of the whole system could perhaps solve this problem.

  3. TO quote a FB friend: Dear Parents, please remove your whiny incompetent kids from the service and put an end to all our miseries. Problem solved, case closed.

  4. HOs, housemanship is like a medical marine boot camp and your seniors are your training instructors. Shape up or get out. Whining not allowed.

  5. If you are dealing with patients’ lives and can’t be bothered beyond your time off then for God’s sake do something else. You could teach Geography for example, you would not kill anyone by not knowing where Malaysia was.

  6. My dear ho ,it doesnt need to brilliant to become a good doctor but it needs passion,sincererity,perseverance,right attitude,unselfish,not calculative,and foremost caring for the patient ,worrying about their safety from your miss judgement,your lack of insight..then tiring hours will become rewarding when see your patient survive weLl.Medical profession is a nobel profession that demands a lots of sacrifices,is not a place for glamour,whinging..tension is running high cause the life is at stake.please dont compare with the western health system cause they are ahead and they already were 20 yrs ago .But I still saw the intern be scolded for their carelessness.The difference was the intern can accept that as training ground whereas many of the current HOs dont.So please wake up..otherwise you all yourselves would not like to be treated by your present colleagues if happen to be admitted.

  7. Reprimanding for mistakes made is not bullying. Weak or poorly trained HOs will get more scolding and reprimanding than others. Housemanship is not the time for molly coddling you.

  8. I agree with Wan Kembang to a certain extent that some seniors are indeed going a little overboard at times, not too sure if they really have the intention to teach or just plainly showing their “seniority” over the juniors – reminds me of ragging time in university, when freshies get unnecessary idiotic orders and instructions, but the seniors justified them as “just having fun and get to know the juniors better”.

    However, I agree with Palmdoc even more, that scolding and reprimanding the juniors are not bullying. Though some seniors are harsher, others are softer, and some put in nicer words, some damn sarcastic and humiliating. I strongly believe that if the juniors, esp HOs, know their stuff and basic knowledge well, I don’t think the seniors would want to scold or reprimand (What for… I mean!!), in fact they will be so glad they get good helpers in ward to share out the load, and they can even teach you more higher level staff, or even take you for teaching rounds to prepare u for postgrad exams!

    I believe this is a two way thing, but then, I sincerely hope that all the HOs will realize that being frontline clinicians is not allowed to take things lightly. Just like how soldiers are being treated with extra strictness! All becoz of the weightage of the job, as well as the nature of the work – doctors must be regarded as somebody reliable, passionate, responsible and truthful, so as to be tasked to treat another human being.

  9. To quote an HO friend in Auckland Hospital, “if any issues arise, they (the ‘bosses’) doesn’t simply blame on the person (read:HO) but look into the system weakness” hmm… am wonder how they can have ‘world-class health system’ compare to us even their system not like our working system which according to the seniors can produce best-doctors in the world!

    I believe the culture that actually made up the working system in our hospital truly haru biru – it doesn’t provide a right environment for HO to learn, but only produce HO-to-be-blame!

    And we are definitely not like a soldier and shouldn’t be trained like one! We, should be a doctor, who need learn to save people, without necessary ‘killing other people’!

  10. You are soldiers in the battlefield, in the war against sickness and infirmity. You don’t kill your own people. Some HOs who deserve court martial are those guilty of acts like these (real life examples from the Dobbs forums). These are 4 different HOs :

    1) Ignoring a pt with unrecordable BP because I was ‘too tired’ while working the night shift.

    2) Did not examine an asthmatic patient who complained of worsening dyspnoea. Then lying about it when questioned and altering the clinical notes.

    3) Did not inform any senior doctor about a hypotensive patient for 6 hours. For another patient, ignored BP 65/45 for 2 hours.

    4) Repeatedly MIA from ward after rounds without carrying out any of the orders.

    So if not disciplined or stopped in time, yes, these HOs will be “killing other people”.

  11. Emm.. I’m not sure specifically about AH but the doctor:population ratio in New Zealand is 1:400 while in Malaysia 1:859 (2010) meaning NZ has more doctors (and should the nom of HOs too) to their population compare to Malaysia. Shouldn’t we, learn, even a bit, how the system works from a country who has attain better standard of leaving and health system? And I know, personally b’cos I’ve been living there for some times, how they emphasize on system efficiency and the same time respecting each individual rights, which clearly been denied in Malaysia??

  12. As someone who has worked in the Antipodes, I can relate some personal experience. The Aussies and New Zealanders are lucky in that they have by and large maintained their standards. Their housemen are in general well grounded and knowledgeable. You do not have to re-train them in basic history taking and physical examination, all of which should have been taught in medical school. The situation is different in Malaysia whereby the Government has allowed the system to be flooded by medical graduates, some of whom come from dubious medical schools and are very poorly trained who can’t even take a basic history.
    On top of that the attitude of some housemen today is very poor (see my examples above).
    It’s these very poorly trained housemen or those with very poor attitude who will expect frequent shelling from their supervisors. Discipline is part and parcel of housemanship training and very important as patient safety is paramount here.
    I think housemen and parents should differentiate this from true bullying. We do not condone abuse of housemen which is not related at all to their work but I dare say this would not be commonplace these days from what I hear. If housemen and their parents expect a cushy life and be molly coddled all the way , then please seek another profession.