Policies that contribute to the brain drain
I wish to share my story.
In 2004, upon completion of her A Levels, I decided to send my daughter to UK to study medicine.
In her final year, I persuaded her to come back and work at home.
After more than three years, I was perplexed to learn that, despite having already completed her compulsory service, my daughter is still ineligible to apply for the master's programme.
In May 2009, I was the happiest person on earth when my daughter passed her final examination.
I attended her graduation ceremony in the UK somewhere around June. It was simple yet traditional and memorable.
We spend one week after that traveling around Europe. After packing all her stuff, we went home, for good.
At home, we filled up all the forms and went to various government agencies to get things in order, getting ready to start work.
Early August she received a letter for an induction programme in Kuala Lumpur.
One week later, she was posted as a doctor, doing her housemanship in one of the Health Ministry's hospitals.
Enough said, housemanship is surely tough, not helped by the very different system, workloads and work ethics.
Every week I had to visit her trying to convince her that the whole thing was just part of her training and she was actually contributing to the betterment of the nation's healthcare system.
She completed the housemanship successfully.
Having performed excellently in her last posting in paediatrics, the head of department wanted to keep her despite various conflicting rulings on fresh medical officers.
She decided to stay and planned to become a paediatrician.
One day, her coursemate and housemate in the UK visited us and I was very happy for her, for completing her MRCP.
So, I encouraged my daughter to apply for the Master's in Medicine degree with the Health Ministry, only to realise that she is not qualified.
Her colleague, one year younger, who graduated from a local university, and who started working six weeks earlier, is qualified.
This means, even if she qualifies next year, she is already two years behind those of her age who studied locally.
She was devastated and I was left wondering why are we making things so hard for ourselves?
How can we prevent the brain drain with policies like this? Do we always have to put seniority before merit?
I wouldn't mind spending another million for her to study further abroad; the government spends millions each year to send medical students overseas.
I wonder what those students would do considering even if they get home for their housemanship, they are made to wait for more than four years to be eligible for the master's programme.
Our policies put them at a disadvantage. A nation full of potential specialists yet deprived of them. It is beyond me why we are doing all this to ourselves. When will we ever learn?