Malaysia, a country with about 26 million populations, boosts of 24 medical schools now.
A decade ago, the number of medical schools is less than 10. But in just ten years time, the number has boosted to 24, with large increase in the private medical schools. If we estimate each medical school is able to produce 150 doctors each year, then Malaysia would be able to produce 3600 doctors. This is not inclusive of the doctors trained oversea, for example UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Russia, Taiwan and even Ukraine.
Shall we clap our hands celebrating that the health quality is going to improve due to the smaller patients-to-doctor factor? Or shall we ring the alarm bell that our current health system is not able to digest and accommodate the sudden increase in numbers of medical graduates? Do we have enough teaching hospital, supervising senior doctors and even patients?
The list of medical schools is obtained from Dr. Hsu:
- University of Malaya, Faculty of Medicine
- Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine
- Universiti Sains Malaysia, School of Medical Sciences
- Universiti Putra Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
- Universiti Malaysia Sabah, School of Medicine
- Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
- International Islamic University Malaysia, Kulliyyah of Medicine
- Universiti Teknologi MARA, Faculty of Medicine
- Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
- Universiti Darul Iman,Faculty of Medicine
Private Universities and Colleges:
- UCSI University, Faculty of Medical Sciences – School of Medicine
- Monash University Malaysia, School of Medicine and Health Sciences
- International Medical University, Faculty of Medicine
- AIMST University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
- Allianze College Of Medical Sciences, Faculty Of Medicine
- Management and Science University, Faculty of Medicine
- Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine
- Royal College of Medicine Perak, School of Medicine
- Melaka Manipal Medical College, School of Medicine
- Penang Medical College, School of Medicine
- MAHSA University College, Faculty of Medicine
- Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NuMED)
- Taylor’s University College, School of Medicine
As a medical student, I am deeply concerned with this matter. Firstly, I am worried about the quality of training that I would receive during my internship. I read that certain department is overcrowded with students. Less tutoring from the supervisor, less hand on due to competition for patients. To some extent, the competency of the doctors is compromised.
Secondly, I am troubled with the possibility that new medical graduates may not get placement in the teaching hospital. Although the governments has promised to increase the number of teaching hospitals, this recruitment process is time consuming because it involves human resource training, facility improvement and national health budget.
From the other perspectives, the increase in number of medical graduates could bring some benefits. The current problem of hospitals insufficiency may just be a transitional. Once the necessary facilities are built, the health system would be able to accommodate the large increase in doctors. Well, this suggestion will only work if the government limit the license to establish new medical schools.
The private hospital and government hospital has vast difference in the working environment. The government hospital is notorious for long hours of working and overwork. With more doctors in supply, probably the workload per doctor could be reduced. This can create a more desirable working environment to retain the doctors in the public sector.
A larger number of government doctor also allow better distribution and mobilization. Due to tight competition in the urban area, more doctors will be willing to work at remote areas. The polyclinic and public health centres are still having shortage of doctors. This will improve the accessibility of health.
With more doctors, the government can also shift their attention from training more GP to training more specialists. Public health will probably receive more attention and hopefully we can see the increase in the number of epidemiologist and public health officer. Maybe more doctors will opt to further their study to become medical researchers.
The above is just my suggestion. It may be too opportunistic and may have lots of flaws in the implementation. Nevertheless, I see this as a good start towards a more developed health care system in Malaysia. Enough of complaints about too many doctors and too few hospitals. Find the solution! Perhaps we can start by drafting plans to build more teaching hospital in the needed area.