30 November 2007

Tough act for many parents


I REFER to “Unfair to extend internship of medical graduates” (The Star, Nov 29) and “Longer housemanship means better exposure” (The Star, Nov 27).

I totally agree with the views expressed by both David Law and V.K. Chin respectively. It is not fair on those parents (and students) who have to finance their children through medical school from loans and borrowing to have the internship extended arbitrarily.

My wife and I have retired. I have four kids and we were unable to obtain any kind of assistance from any of the government bodies except for loans from MIED and, of late, from PTPTN.

We are indeed very grateful to these two organisations though it was not sufficient to cover the entire cost of the medical programme. I still have two children to put through university.

It was not easy for us to get the financial aid to put my daughter in a private medical university in Kuala Lumpur. We exhausted all our savings and had to sell our house to put her through medical school.

With God’s grace, she is going to complete her MBBS and we are hoping that she will complete the (previous) mandatory internship and be able to assist us in meeting various financial obligations, including repayment of loans taken from MIED and PTPTN.

If the Government believes that increasing the internship will do a world of good for these medical graduates (though these graduates have been performing clinical activities at various government hospitals as part of the MBBS programme), it should evaluate all needy cases and assist them financially or write off the loan taken, especially from PTPTN.

Since there is an acute shortage of medical doctors, I believe the option to write off loans taken from PTPTN (in view of the extended years of internship) would be a much cheaper option in comparison to the Government having to recruit foreign medical personnel.

It is also not fair on the part of the Government to equate compulsory internship of medical graduates who had to finance medical studies (especially in private medical universities) through loans, borrowings, exhausting savings and selling assets against those who had the full benefit of some form of scholarship to finance their studies or were privileged to study at public universities.

There has to be a distinction made and efforts need to be made by the authorities to assist those doctors falling in the earlier category. Alternatively (as Dave Law suggested), implement a pay scale for doctors different from that of the normal civil service.

I have nothing against lengthening the internship of medical graduates. But it has to be fair and equitable.

I am very sure the ministry concerned can work out some kind of formula to ensure all needy cases receive due attention, especially those who were unable to obtain any government scholarship or had the privilege to enter government-funded public universities to complete their medical studies.

As parents, we want our children to be well educated and contribute to nation building of this beautiful and blessed country.


Subang Jaya, Selangor.

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