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Doctor in District: Unfortunate or Beneficial?

Recently I attend a seminar on Right and Responsibility of Government Doctors organized by Malaysian Medical Association. (Have you registered with them? Please do if you are a doctor in Malaysia.) There were an issue raised in this seminar. One issue that caught my attention was regarding serving in District and what benefit a doctor will get by doing that?

Deep in my heart, I was hoping that somebody would reveal a very motivating answer on that question. I was serving in district for 3 years and I felt that I have done enough and now I am trying to pursuit further study in Master Program in Pathology.

Serving in the district, almost everytime, for everyone, will not be our first choice, most of the time we were put there because the community needs. They need a doctor, we were put there, and we were kind of given a promised that we will be benefited a lot when we serve in District.

The answer to the questions, is unfortunately..maybe. That is the exact word used to answer it. This was answered by a person who a directly on board in Master program selection. Maybe, is not what I hope for.

To tell the truth, when I served in the District here in Sabah, I felt that I have done a lot and this would be good for my further career development. I was so optimist on that until I serve a few months in tertiary Hospital. It almost a year now in my new department and I started to realise that my time in the district bring me a tiny or even none credit for my further career development.

People would always said before that if you want to take Master Program, you need to serve in the district for at least 6 months to 1 year if not you will not be chosen to enter that program. This is a mere wrong perception and  false hope given to junior doctors, like me before.

Now, to enter Master program, what you need is only to pass the entrance exam or the interview. Three years SKT and LNPT mark more than 85%, that's all. Your working experience comes later or perhaps just keep it in the dustbin. It consider equals to rubbish.

To be more clear, I served in the district, been through a lot of life and death experience, work my ass off and exposed me in a situation where I can surely be sued by doing something that only tertiary hospital can do but I need to save my patient's life, but when I enter Pathology, those who never did any posting in district or even any other department other than pathology, were so damned good in Pathology compare to me. Would they ask me how much Caesarian Section I have done in District for me to get my Master Program in Pathology? No. Throw everything I did in District to the dustbin, I would still be able to enter that program. Well, technically my work there really don't matter, I even did not include that in my application to Master Pathology program.

You get my point here? There were no different whether you were in District or not. Serving in District basically just fulfilled the requirement required by the people there. And the people there would not even have a voting right to select you to continue your study.

In will be second to nothing in term of your career development.

However, the experience you had there in district would be one of the most precious experience you will have. Your clinical skill and judgement would be sharpen when you be there compare to those who did not. If you want to be a good doctor, try doing that,  I believe in District you would be more patience and controlled when treating a patient. Just that when you want to pursuit further study in several kind of specialty, District posting would not be beneficial to you.

Here are a few example of specialty that might not really affected by district posting...anything other than medical....

I hope that Ministry, MMA, or whatever body that involved in decision making could give more attention on all MOs that were ordered to serve in District. their career development will be delayed by serving in district, especially here in Sabah.

p/s: I would be in my second year of Master program today if I did not serve 3 years in district. A lot of my friend now resort to stay chronically in the district, do business, or become a private GP....


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