KUCHING: Malaysia’s inability to employ all of its medical graduates has been attributed to the country having more graduates that the Health Ministry (MoH) can absorb.
An independent think tank Emir Research, in their recent findings, said the issue stemmed from poor planning with the issuance of licences to private medical colleges without consulting the Health Ministry.
“This results in the proliferation of 32 medical colleges – 11 public universities and 21 private colleges. This is more than Australia, United Kingdom and United States (19, 33 and 179 medical schools respectively) on a per capita basis.
“In addition, there are over 300 recognised foreign medical schools with annual returning graduates. Together, this yields a total of about 5,000 medical graduates each year, more than what the MoH can absorb,” it said.
The research body said the government tried to address the influx of medical graduates by implementing a contract tenure scheme where all medical graduates employed by MoH are appointed as contract medical officers (MOs).
“A five-year contract is provided, starting with three years of medical graduate training (housemanship) and two years as junior medical officers.
“Those who returned from overseas and had already completed their housemanship abroad will receive a two-year contract as MOs. Once they have completed the contract, they were then absorbed into the permanent scheme.
“But because the ministry has limited vacancies each year, those not absorbed into the permanent establishment will have to seek employment elsewhere in the private or public sectors,” it said.
Emir Research also pointed out that since 2016, only 3.41 percent (789) out of the 23,077 contract MOs have been given permanent positions.
“The reasons why contract MOs were looking forward to a permanent position is the difficulty of getting employed in both the private sector and the public sector other than MoH, if their contract is not renewed.
“Also, the current contract system either do not provide a clear career progression pathway or avenue for specialist training,” it said.
It pointed out that contract MOs were ineligible to receive unrecorded leaves and the government’s scholarship programme where doctors can pursue to become specialists.
“Although contract MOs could still choose to further their studies to become specialists, they must do so on their own time with their own expenses,” it said.