KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — More than half of medical graduates last year were still waiting for housemanship placements six months after completing their studies, according to a nationwide survey.
Citing its Graduate Tracer Study for 2018, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Monday that 2,595 medical graduates, or 54.3 per cent of 4,782 students who graduated that year, had yet to be employed.
This was the same case for 511 (23.9 per cent) pharmacy graduates out of a total of 2,140 pharmacy graduates during the same period, MOE added in a parliamentary reply.
The ministry, in its written reply to Senator R. Suresh Singh in the Dewan Negara, did not state the factors that led to the figures.
The study MOE cited is a survey conducted among graduates of higher learning institutions post-convocation to identify their job status and gather feedback on various aspects of their tertiary education experience.
Separately, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed that as of last November 11, 17,183 UD41 medical officers have been appointed on contract since 2016, out of which, 6,139 were appointed on contract this year.
Although the Cabinet approved last month MOH’s proposal to promote contract medical, pharmacy and dental officers from the UD41 civil service grade to their permanent counterparts’ UD43, MOH announced last December 9 that the government was still considering changing medical officers’ status from UD41 to UD43.
“However, to ensure that compulsory service runs smoothly, the government is still offering UD41 contracts and officers’ grade change to UD43 will be done once it is approved by the government,” said MOH’s Human Resources Division on MOH’s website.
MOH also applied last October to turn relevant public university hospitals into training hospitals to increase the number of housemanship positions. The number of training hospitals rose from 38 in 2009 to 46 in 2018.
“Based on MOH’s projections, eight hospitals are currently being considered to be equipped as training hospitals in the coming two years,” MOH said in a written parliamentary reply to Senator Ismail Ibrahim on December 10 in Dewan Negara.
“Through these additional eight new training hospitals, 400 housemanship positions are expected to be created.”
MOH also said it would seek to place additional specialists to supervise housemen.
Malaysia is currently facing a glut of medical graduates that has forced MOH to put junior doctors like housemen and medical officers on contract, with medical officers told to seek work in the private sector after their two-year compulsory service with the government ends.
Medical graduates can only do their two-year training, or housemanship, in government hospitals. Housemen who can’t complete their training within two years may be allowed to finish it in the third year, after which medical officers are required by law to serve the government for two years.
Only medical officers who hold a permanent position for three years are allowed to study their Master’s to get into specialisation, during which they get paid a regular salary by MOH. Private hospitals do not provide medical training and they mostly hire specialists.
In its Monday parliamentary reply, MOE referred to MOH’s permanent-to-contract appointment change as among several initiatives that have been spearheaded to shorten the waiting time for medical graduates to start their housemanship, and to quicken the process of appointing them.
MOH has also increased the number of elective postings at government health clinics and mental health institutions, from a previous five house officers sent to such facilities to nine. MOH also conducts house officer intakes every two months.
Besides this, MOE said MOH has extended the implementation of its moratorium on new medical courses at institutes of higher learning in the country for five years until 2021.