I AM a registrar (medical officer in training as a specialist) in one of the busiest hospitals in Malaysia.
I did my housemanship training here, went for my district posting, got into the specialist programme, and am now back in the same hospital where it all began.
Every once in a while, I come across a link sent to me via social media, regarding housemen, and their plight. Like how they are expected to work 75 hours; how medical officers and specialists are their bane; how they don’t get enough time for lunch or tea; and how medical officers have nothing else to do but make their already miserable lives more miserable.
Allow me to share the other side of the story.
My job requires me to work from 8am to 5pm. That’s a nine-hour job, with one hour for lunch. So that’s 45 hours per week, give or take.
That said, my work starts at 7.30am. I need to know my cases, especially the overnight admissions, before the specialists arrive. Sometimes, they arrive at 7.15am because they have got operations and clinics to run.
We don’t wait at the machine to punch out at 5pm sharp either. Sometimes, though not always, we have to stay back for hours because of certain cases.
Most of us do about six calls a month. Meaning, we punch in at 8am and punch out at 1pm the next day or 5pm the next day depending on the department’s policy.
Weekends, 24-hour calls, you don’t really hear us complaining, do you? Given the chance, I would rather spend the weekend with my family, rather than slog in the hospital for a mere RM220.
On average, the medical officer works 54 to 80 hours a week depending on the number of calls. And this varies from taking referals in the emergency department to doing life saving surgery at 3am.
So, the question arises, why do we do it?
To my junior doctors, we are blessed. We are in a blessed profession. We can alleviate pain, remove devastating tumours, make people walk again, we save lives.
We are blessed to be in a profession, where parents, children, sisters and brothers thank us for what we do. Be it a simple dislocated shoulder to a severe heart attack, we do what we can to help people.
When you look at consultants, they are where they are, not by whining. They are there because of the countless hours they put in, both with the books, as well as in the hospital.
There is no doubt, everyone wants more pay and less work, me included.
But dear housemen, take a good hard look at the person next to you. This is going to be the person who will eventually take care of you and your children.
If you have even a little bit of insight, you will know how to correct things, and at least be a better person, if not a better doctor. Med Reg Kuala Lumpur The STAR Home News Opinion Letters December 11, 2014