Very upset. Worked so hard as houseman only got 76 for my 2007 SKT. Wanna leave this stupid country.
That was the SMS I received from my colleague Dr. Bee, medical officer of Kinbatangan on my back from Kota Marudu today.
I was driving at 80km/hr along the treacherous Kota Marudu-Kota Belud ‘highway’ then, but could not help but feel angry over the news.
Dr. Bee like myself, graduated from UM and assumed housemanship in the state of Sabah by choice.
Doctors come to Sabah for many different reasons. The kiasu ones are here under the impression that a working stint in Sabah will earn them extra points in their pursuit of the local Masters specialty training. Some are here because they were told that the training and working experience here in Sabah are much better and wider compared to Peninsular Malaysia. I can’t comment on that, because I have never truly worked with the Ministry of Health in Peninsular Malaysia. My short attachments in the Klang, Banting and Tanjung Karang hospitals are not sufficient for me to make a proper comparison. Of course, there are always the jerk doctors who come to Sabah preying on the gullible local ladies. You can read my other posting for real-life stories.
Dr. Bee however, came to Sabah with nothing to gain and everything to lose – her spouse, her family, her friends, the comfort of home. I believe she came to serve the community of Sabah and verily I say, she has lived up to her personal pledges.
In the eighteen months of my working experience with Dr. Bee, I only have words of praise for her. She was among the top graduates in my class but unlike many other brainy doctors, Dr. Bee was competent and well-balanced in knowledge, work and character. She came to work early, examined patients thoroughly and demonstrated sincerity in her dealings with patients. She was so dilligent and motivated that other doctors took her for granted and pushed her around.
If I were to find any fault in her, it would be her uncanny fetish for all things afro. That's none of my business, though.
There have been a many emergencies and events whereby she was one of the few reliable hands around. There is no doubt in my mind that without her assistance and support during those times, a large number of patients would have had a very different and worse outcome.
She had had her share of frustrations and downcast while serving as a house officer. Sadly, this is the exactly the case with Malaysian healthcare. Lazy, moronic and irresponsible doctors get off scot-free while diligent, responsible and knowledgeable doctors like Dr. Bee get trashed. It’s a sickening system, to say the least. The hardworking doctors end up with more baggage and liability while doctors who go AWOL remain AWOL with no accountability.
Having studied real hard and basically smart to begin with, there were times where Dr. Bee just couldn’t reconcile with the occasional doubtful conclusions of some of the clinical specialists. In a feudalistic system like Malaysia’s, differing opinions are not tolerated well, much like the culture so rabid among our politicians.
Being pint-size and soft spoken, Dr. Bee was an easy target for the wicked bosses among us. It was really distressing to see her on the receiving end of verbal harassments from those racist, sexist, shit-full orthopaedic surgeons and NEP products.
While she was as frustrated with the system as I have been and still am, she remained ever enthusiastic and firmly focused on the big picture that is patient’s well-being and best interests.
We have gone separate ways and function independently as full-fledge medical officers now.
I have no doubt however, that Dr. Bee continues to maintain a self-imposed standard of excellence in her daily work in the interior of Sabah.
It was therefore remarkably upsetting that a doctor like her received a mere 76 marks for her annual work assessment called the Sasaran Kerja Tahunan (SKT).
Is this the reward for diligence in the civil service?
What the big deal about SKT, one might ask?
For non-bumiputera doctors like Dr. Bee and myself, the SKT points are very much a determining factor in our application for the local Masters program. The SKT points MUST NOT BE BELOW 88 FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS before we are eligible to APPLY for a specialty program.
Contrast the above criteria with the criteria set in place for Malay doctors who are accepted into the Skim Latihan Akademik Bumiputera (SLAB) program. Essentially, there are no specific criteria in place for the SLAB program. In fact, one may not even need to apply to join the SLAB program. I have had Malay colleagues who were simply offered to choose from a variety of SLAB specialty programs.
With an SKT of 76 points, the chances of Dr. Bee being eligible to apply for specialty training is practically nil.
Anyway, do we really seriously think that NEP products groomed in a racist system will be fair and considerate in their assessment of non-NEP products like Dr. Bee? Will they be able to empathize with the struggling non-Malay doctors striving for career advancement while juggling their daily work? Will they give a leg up and lend a helping hand the same way they were given crutches and wheelchairs to roll about?
To my dear friend Dr. Bee, take heart and don’t be discouraged. Study hard and kick their NEP asses. Above all, stay the same – a wonderful and dedicated clinician.
Now I wonder what my SKT is for 2007…..