Our junior doctors doing the impossible

Our junior doctors doing the impossible

I WAS quite astonished to read “Doctors have bad days too” (The Star, March 5).
I would like to explain the situation of an average junior doctor in Australia so that the Malaysian public has an understanding of what our junior doctors are going through at our public hospitals.

A junior doctor would probably see about five to six patients in a medical outpatient clinic over four hours and about eight to nine patients in the Emergency Department (ED) in an eight-hour shift. An average medical team’s inpatient list would consist of 15 patients. The team would have a consultant, a registrar (specialist/senior medical officer) and a junior medical officer or houseman.

An average patient would have a list of his medications or at least would be able to recall the brand names of the medication that he is taking and the indication. They won’t just refer “ubat putih yang bulat”. Some patients would be even able to recall their investigation results. For instance, some HIV patients would know their last CD4 counts and viral load.

For junior doctors, the minimum hours of work would be 38 hours a week. On average, it would be about 43 hours. Legally, they can’t work more than 75 hours a week or more than 16 hours continuously in a shift. They need at least 10 hours of rest in between shifts.

Junior doctors are not expected to perform difficult procedures (which would be standard procedures to Malaysian doctors) such as intubation, insertion of central lines or appendicectomies.

The pay for an Australian houseman is A$30 (RM89) an hour. After the first 38 hours in the week, the next two hours of the week would be paid at 1.5 times and any following hour would be paid at double rate. For public holidays, they would receive 2.5 times higher rate. They have compulsory five weeks break in a year. They are not allowed to work in the hospital during this period.

I understand the situation of Malaysian doctors cannot be helped likely due to limited resources. In fact, a lot of junior doctors in Australia did not believe that doctors here worked 36 hours in a row, intubating patients without anaesthetist support or see 40 patients in an ED shift.

In conclusion, our junior doctors are trying to do the impossible.
So, even if you don’t give them chocolates or thank you cards, a simple smile would be sufficient to lighten up their tiring day!

Taiping, Perak

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