Do housemen in Sarawak get bullied?




KUCHING: Have there been instances of medical staff being overworked and bullied in Sarawak?

New Sarawak Tribune which set out to get some answers found out that it does happen.

A doctor who wished to be only known as Jackie said the issue of medical staff being overworked and bullied is prevalent in Sarawak but that this is not exposed.

“The bullying culture should be stopped and condemned and medical officers and specialists play an important role to make training of housemen much more conducive.

“This can be done by ensuring that everyone is involved in discussion and decision-making and not just merely for HO’s to run a job list,” he said.

During the doctor’s time as a houseman, he said that there were issues of medical personnel being overworked and bullied.

“Some doctors had major depressive disorder (MDD) and they currently attend sessions with psychiatrists,” he said.

Elaborating, Jackie said this is a vicious cycle driven by ego and that bullying should be condemned.

When asked whether he had experienced bullying, he said ‘no’ and that it was due to good superiors who justified and provided clear information to the doctors.

Much of the country, especially those in the medical fraternity were saddened by the tragic death of a houseman in Penang last month.

This caused concerns among many who have since called on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to investigate the matter and to curb toxic practices in the workplace, if any.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to New Sarawak Tribune, another doctor said that overworked and over-bullying is a multi-factor issue.

“Oftentimes than not, this is due to horrible seniors or superiors, depending on one’s coping skills, and support systems,” he said.

The doctor opined that it takes the entire community to support, speak up against bullying and provide avenues for mental health.

“During my housemanship period, I had a great time but there were some who did it with me and felt that it was horrible,” he said.

He added that he always wanted to be a doctor and in the medical industry sometimes it’s a matter of perspective, and he expected working in this field to be a lot worse than how it is now but finds working in the industry quite alright.

“The expectations of others may be different, hence the way they respond also is different,” he said.

He also said that to ensure the good mental health of medical personnel, surveys are given to evaluate their mental well-being.

“It’s being recognised more and more over the years, it’s more intentional to look out for struggling staff. Most hospitals are beginning to do this regularly,” he said.

Another doctor who goes by the name Bob called for more housemen to be placed based on their departments.

“That way, housemen numbers could be spread evenly based on the requirements of that department,” he said.

Bob reasoned that most hospitals require housemen to do 60 hours a week and sometimes housemen need to come in early and leave later than they have to.

He also stated that there has always been a bullying culture in the medical field and that this culture has been passed on from ‘generation to generation’ and that very little effort has been done to stop this.

Some examples were given, such as senior houseman bullying junior housemen, medical officers bullying housemen and even specialists taking advantage of anyone below them.

“A change of mindset is necessary, criticism and teaching should be constructive and support must be given to these housemen,” he said.

When asked what his experiences as a houseman was like, he added that racial remarks were often thrown at him and that prejudice often surfaced.

Another medical personnel, who is a nurse, also had something to say regarding the work environment in the hospital.

Cases of bullying at all levels in health institutions should be stopped, the nurse added.

“This issue should be resolved by creating the right channels for them to voice this problem.

“Mentor-mentee programme can be done so that seniors can take care of the juniors under their care,” she said.

She added that trainee doctors should also have the courage to speak out by filing complaints if bullied.

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