Understaffed new medical schools

With the mushrooming of medical schools in Malaysia and the continuing brain drain, it surprises no one when we find newer medical schools struggling to fill positions. With the inevitable entry of prominent foreign medical schools, like Johns Hopkins, the situation for these small faculties will deteriorate.

Some medical schools reportedly have started training medical students with a handful of lecturers. Imagine taking over 100 medical students a year with only less than 20 lecturers at hand. As a result, some of the lecturers are “borrowed” from other established medical schools for a fee. This in turn will dilute the available manpower in both institutions.

It continues to surprise many that the government is allowing the establishment of such medical schools without the proper infrastructure or manpower in place. If we continue to compromise on the quality of medical education in Malaysia, one shudders to think of the quality of future doctors in Malaysia. As of now, we have seen a shocking drop in the quality of medical graduates in Malaysia.

With many bigger hospitals being presently affiliated with one medical school or the other, these newer schools are forced to utilise smaller hospitals as a result. These hospitals as it is, is understaffed. So one wonders as to the quality of clinical teaching in these schools.

Even in larger institutions like University Malaya, the hemorrhaging of lecturers to private ventures is continuing. With the entry of medical schools like Johns Hopkins, I fear that soon our local faculties will suffer the fate of insignificance!

Solving the shortage of doctors by increasing medical schools is shooting oneself in the foot. Soon one may have to send these doctors for retraining. Even now, housemanship for some doctors is like medical school once again. This puts a strain on the service in our local hospitals.

It is urgent that the government forms an accreditation body that will monitor the quality of these medical schools from the curriculum to the staffing, especially in fledgling medical schools.

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