THE issue of overworked housemen has apparently been sparked by the death of a houseman at Kajang Hospital.
As much as I regret the tragedy, I think it has been blown out of proportion. The public, especially the parents of housemen, have reacted unfairly, pointing fingers at the superiors as the contributing cause of "stress" leading to some of them being depressed or suicidal.
The public should understand the nature of the medical profession. Not only does it demand energy, it also demands time and sacrifice. As a matter of fact, the majority of medical staff are overworked. These include medical officers, specialists and nurses.
In a busy hospital, it is a common scenario to see two or three nurses handling 30 to 40 patients during night shift, serving medications and taking the vital signs of patients.
There are medical officers who work 24 hours during on-call time and then continue working the next day like a zombie. And there are specialists who work beyond office hours.
Some areas of medicine are more hectic than others. But do they ever complain? No, this is because they understand the moment they enter the medical profession, they must be prepared to go beyond what is required.
The ultimate aim is to serve the patient and deliver the best. Those who are unprepared for the long hours of training and who are not prepared mentally should not have entered the medical field. The same applies to parents who wish to see their children becoming doctors.
It is disheartening to read comments from the public and politicians regarding what is the best training for the young doctors.
This should be left to those in the profession.
Again, the public must understand, housemanship is a training period and these officers are apprentices. They must complete sufficient training and fulfil the standard requirements before they are qualified to be "safe" doctors.
Fulfilling the criteria involves continuous exposure to the management of patients and learning by experience, as well as persistent reading and attending academic discussions.
To the housemen, I have this to say: the longer you spend to get involved in the management of patients, the better you are.
I have to admit there are sensible, tireless housemen, who are willing to do the extra hours.
You don't need brilliance for this, just the right attitude and passion for your work.
It's sad that with the new shift system they easily lose track of their patients' progress.
Talking about skills and knowledge, as a specialist who has been serving long enough, I have had the opportunity to observe what I perceive as the deterioration in quality, skills and knowledge of our young officers.
It is a pity that the training of some officers has to be extended.
Lastly, I must salute the specialists, medical officers and even the understanding house officers who continue to work diligently despite the stress and pressure from the public.