Recently, the incident of a house officer who fell and died has ignited calls for action in response to various reports of bullying and unjust treatment of junior doctors.
To date, two junior doctors have perished within the last two years as a result of atrocious workplace violence and intimidation. Multiple studies and reports have too revealed the existence of horizontal violence and harassment against junior doctors in Malaysia.
Malaysian Medics International (MMI) calls on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to directly address the incidences of horizontal violence towards house officers, and to investigate the issue justly and effectively.
Eliminate Workforce Bullying And Implement Respectful Communication In Workplace Policies
We recognise that it has become a culture for housemen to undergo harsh training before becoming qualified medical officers and specialists.
However, health authorities should also recognise that prolonged exposure to highly stressful and toxic workplace environments potentially results in a higher vulnerability of junior doctors to negative psychological and physical health effects.
Discrimination should be eliminated to ensure the welfare of doctors.
Additionally, studies have shown that toxic workplace environments can consequently indirectly impair the quality of patient care delivered by future medical officers and specialists, should they be consistently subjected to horizontal violence and unjust work expectations.
Thus, serious action must be taken with immediate effect to curb the loss of more lives and to mitigate the preservation of colleague self-dignity, and psychological and physical well-being.
Instil Complete Transparency In The Investigation And Re-evaluation Of The House Officer Training System
We urge the MOH to be transparent when conducting a major audit of the current work conditions for housemen. We plead to the MOH to address the current issue of atrocious horizontal violence seriously and enforce compassionate mentoring and professional communication standards for all medical colleagues.
Bullying, verbal and emotional abuse, racist remarks, and gaslighting should be strongly opposed.
Execute Reasonable Changes To Mandatory Weekly Work Hours To Alleviate Senior And Junior Officers’ Stress And Mental Wellbeing
While countless political figures have stressed the unfairness of young doctors being expected to perform effectively under the pressure of weekly work hours totalling 65 to 75 hours.
it is commendable that the MOH has formed an independent task force to investigate the matter.
However, we humbly plead to the MOH to consider implementing effective alterations to the duration of weekly work hours for junior doctors, and increasing the workforce manpower.
Encourage Active Maintenance Of Mental Health And Physical Wellbeing Among Senior And Junior Medical Officers
We implore to the government to encourage positive professional and pastoral support in clinical areas of high workforce stress and pressurised settings.
With regard to reports about doctors being ridiculed for seeking pastoral support during times of personal duress, we plead to the MOH to implement better maintenance of mental health and wellbeing policies in professional workplaces, as well as easing medical staff’s access to mental health services, without any stigma or prejudice.
To conclude, we appeal to the MOH to implement the above changes at all public hospitals and to closely re-evaluate the junior doctor training system.
The MPH must act urgently to ingrain compassion into the training of future medical officers and specialists. We must put a stop to the vicious cycle of horizontal workplace violence before we lose further manpower as future graduates flock to greener pastures where their wellbeing will be recognised as a priority for better patient care.
The Malaysian Medics International (MMI) is an international medical student-led organization that aims to connect, educate, and cultivate.
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