Medical housemen shouldn’t be treated as punching bags by their seniors, says Satok rep

Dato Ibrahim Baki

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, May 19: Doctors and specialists who supervise fresh medical graduates should not treat them as slaves or punching bags, says Satok assemblyman Dato Ibrahim Baki.

According to Ibrahim, he has heard of cases in which fresh medical graduates have suffered emotionally and mentally to the point where they must be referred to a psychiatrist.


“Bear in mind that some of these bright young medical graduates are potential future specialists who will make significant contributions to our State.

“However, due to a bullying culture that they cannot tolerate, some are forced to quit the profession.

“We’d like to know how many housemen and doctors have quit in the last five years due to bullying and excessive workloads,” he said today when debating the Sarawak Governor’s address at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here.

He noted that the housemen had made many sacrifices and suffered greatly, and that some had to repay their scholarships.

“In the long run, the problem of ill-treatment will lead to bleeding of talent and an acute shortage of doctors in the future, especially at a time when Sarawak desperately needs more doctors and specialists.

“Therefore, we should stop this irresponsible and inhumane act immediately,” he asserted.

Ibrahim, who is also the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) DUN chief whip, brought up the recent death of a Penang houseman, which has raised questions regarding the toxic work environment that trainee doctors face in public hospitals, including in Sarawak.

While he agreed that some hard knocks and rigorous two-year training are required so that future doctors can rise to the occasion when needed, but bullying housemen is not the right thing to do.

Ibrahim proposed six solutions to address the problem.

First, the Ministry of Health (MOH) should develop proper guidelines for supervising fresh medical graduates or housemen.

Second, senior doctors and specialists should receive proper professional training on how to supervise housemen, with the sole goal of developing competent doctors.

Third, senior doctors should treat fresh medical graduates with decorum, civility and respect and they should be treated as equals by seniors as normally practised in the United Kingdom or Australia and other developed countries, whereas junior doctors should be treated as colleagues, not as lowly beings who can be abused and bullied.

Fourth, the ministry should stipulate the maximum number of hours for fresh medical graduates to work.

Fifth, the ministry should establish a supervisory or inspection committee that will visit hospitals and listen to feedback from housemen about their experiences during housemanship so that any problems which arise can be addressed.

Sixth, every public hospital in Sarawak should establish a unit to assist medical officers in dealing with emotional, mental health, and depression issues. — DayakDaily