Saturday, November 15, 2014


I took a few minutes to fill up a questionnaire fielded by one medical personnel website - How happy are you as a doctor?

Now, it didn't take me too long to go through it.

I am not a happy doctor.

Why? If you are so unhappy why you chose to be one? You can always quit.

That would be the number one response, mostly from our superiors, to belittle anyone who complains.

Anyone can be a quitter anytime, it is not that difficult. Complaining and whining is totally different. We need to listen and address complaints and unsatisfactory of our human resources, and then have a constructive and effortful discussion on how to improve things.

We cannot, should not and must not kept citing our previous successes and how we dealt with patients with scanty number of doctors.

We cannot keep citing how well we achieved our KPIs, how good are we that we ended up as 3rd best health care in the world, and then continue the usual way of working anymore.

Time changes so much so that business as usual does not deliver anymore.

Our patient load is ever increasing year by year and paradoxically, our budgets remains stagnant and reduced year by year. We maintained a very high number of human resources, but our delivery outcome is unmeasured. We need to quantify and measure our outcome.

For the lowest in the food-chain, the young, aspiring House Officers - they are unhappy. I tried to slot in some time whenever I can to talk to them, to share with them the reasons why certain things are done, to the best of my knowledge. They are mostly clueless, but to be honest, I was clueless then too.

Our public medical schools are too overcrowded with students and our private medical schools are too profit orientated; to be producing competent graduates for our traditional housemanship training. (I stand by this notion in entirety)

When they graduate, they are enrolled in our training hospitals. We took all in, there is no vested authority in anyone to say no to this overflow. We either choose to ignore or we blatantly ignore the fact that our hospitals are too busy to be teaching hospitals. The lack of knowledge coupled with diluted hands on experience and increasing non medical related jobscope, offset only by the once-a-week houseman teaching is not going to produce competent medical officers to stand alone servicing our makciks and pakciks in kampong. But no, we choose to ignore that. Authority still quote numbers and ratios that this is workable.

Then our medical officers, are unhappy as well. As we entered the age to start family, and to deal with the aging parents and the guilt of not spending enough time with family is all time high. I left my family since age 17, spent more than 10 years of my life away studying in UK and working as houseman in Sarawak. The urge for me to go back to hometown is very strong, but unfortunately in a system whereby hire and fire is by the central ministry, there are too many hurdles for us to choose where we can be, and what we can be. We just cant simple go apply to another hospital in another state unfortunately.

Our specialists and consultants are not the happy lot as well. They have contributed so much to the care of the patient for the past so many years and the feeling of underpaid and overworked is alarmingly high. Many are tempted to go across to the private side, but the grass is not always greener there, the level of competitions and the work rate expected is heavy too.

So, I always thought, is there any happy doctors?

Is our future so blardy bleak?

And is there anything we can do to make it better? Should we bring up to our politicians?

Politicians, will play politics just like how our footballers play football, that is their jobs. We must have a strong civil service to check and balance. We must stand firm and tell everyone, this is the right way to do it, and not always quoting:

This is highly political, we shall not discuss.

Nothing is political, in our jobs, as doctors.

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