Majority of the Malaysian medical students who are studying in Australia are on scholarships. They are funded by the Malaysian Public Service Department (PSD), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), a trust fund and other peak government listed companies which belong to the Malaysian citizens. There are also self-financed students.
It costs the Malaysian tax payers money about $AUD300,000 and more to fund JUST ONE medical student studying in Australia. Despite spending that amount of money, the Australian government is unable to provide internship training for the Malaysian medical students to be qualified registered medical officer (RMO).
The NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, suggested in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 22nd October 2012 that ‘International medical student colleagues ought to pay for the privilege of working as interns in NSW hospitals’. A person of her calibre and position should be cautious of her actions and statement as it undervalues the hard work of all junior doctors.
Her statement was unacceptable and undermines the internship position. Medical interns regularly work 16-hour overnight shifts on most days, navigating cannulas through frail, elderly skin into torturous, collapsing veins. These interns also assess agitated patients in the emergency department on weekends. In their surgical rotation, interns have to arrive pre-dawn in readiness for the surgeon's 7am ward round apart from the discharge summary that they are obliged to complete. Internship is not a privilege to be sold as Ms Skinner claims.
In Malaysia, nearly 40% of the medical graduates working in Malaysia are trained overseas. If pre-vocational training is not given to the Malaysian medical students studying in Australia, many of them will resort in seeking internship training in Malaysia. The problem with this is that in the next two years, the Malaysian health ministry will also develop a problem allocating overseas Malaysian medical graduates for internship position in Malaysian. This is mainly due to the growing numbers of local Malaysian medical graduates which will create a unwanted competition between local and international medical graduates for pre-vocational training .
Therefore in the years to come, if the Australian federal and state government do not collaborate to provide the Malaysian medical student's internship training to ensure they are qualified doctors, their degree would be worthless. Meaning that the Malaysian medical students who graduate with a medical degree will not be able to practise as doctors once they graduate. This is devastating for those students who have worked hard for 5-7 years to obtain their medical degree.
Solely for reasons above, it would be futile and a waste of the Malaysian tax payers money to fund those students studying in Australia because they would not be able to contribute to the wider Malaysian community.
In conclusion, we strongly urge the Malaysian government to spend the Malaysian tax payers money funding medical students in countries that has made it a condition for their government to allocate internship places for the international medical students without discriminating against them and treating them differently from locals for the benefit of the wider community.