Friday, September 30, 2011

The Trouble With Doctors

Sheesh, it is not the kind of report that inspires confidence in our medical system. All foreign doctors are supposed to be assessed in English by a panel for their clinical competence. Additionally, doctors from China have to pass two English tests, one for clinical and one for language proficiency. The type of doctors who were cleared to practise in our hospitals:

Clinical proficient-
Dr Li Wei Shan saw patients with dengue fever for the first time in his life here at Singapore General Hospital, presumably nobody has mosquito bites in China. He is obviously not one of those Long March veterans who trekked through eleven provinces, over raging rivers and snow-capped mountain ranges, through insect-infested swamps and forests. The 30-year old from Peking First University had to bone up on more then dengue: "I bought textbooks to find out more about local diseases."

Language proficient -
Dr Feng Jue-fei (Tan Tock Seng Hospital) thought his patient wanted to know why the surgical procedure was necessary, when the articulated request was to see the senior doctor in charge. Says he, "In China, the working language is Chinese. Here, we have to learn how to write medical records in English; how to present cases in English; how to update the family in English. It's a little bit difficult, I think." Oh, we get it, his application work to in Singapore was probably written by an English proficient agent. Feng is among the first batch of 23 doctors recruited from China.

A Ministry of Health said its first priority in increasing manpower supply is to attract overseas trained Singaporean doctors to practise here, implying that those who have left will need some persuasive effort to come home.

In his National Day Rally 2011 speech, PM Lee revealed that in the medical school here at NUS, only 300 places for medical students are allocated, when there are 2,000 students applying to study medicine. "All of them have outstanding results: three As, four As, CCA, secondment, internship, all sorts, whatever is necessary to improve their chances, they have done it," Lee said. Thanks to his crafting of Government policy, these proficient candidates have to pursue their dreams offshore, biting off a huge chunk of their parents' life savings, and sacrificing family ties for an extended separation. Gratitude for a nation that turfed them out must figure significantly in their minds.

The data released by the National Population and Talent Division missed out on one important set of figures. The number of Singaporeans leaving the country, hoping never to have to return. Some folks who sold off their property to finance their children's tertiary education abroad may have done their own astute forward planning. Once their kids enter the workforce in a overseas country, there is the likelihood of being sponsored over for a Green Card or equivalent. It's a long bet, but the odds have to be better than that at Marina Bay Sands, or with the policy and politics entrenched by current regime.


  1. The comments sometimes seem to disappear into thin air. Cyber police in action?

  2. And the reason why only 300 places when there is 2000 applicants is?

  3. The reason is it is CHEAPER to import rather than INVEST in the infrastructure that will build up the nation's core competency.

  4. Yr readers might like to know that one Lee Kuan Yew has an obsession with bringing foreign doctors into S'pore.

    My dad once told me that a Dr Marcus was Director of Medical Services in Govmin when LKY came into power. LKY insisted on bringing in doctors from Japan. There was as now a shortage. Dr Marcus refused on the grounds of language and because Chinese would refuse to be treated by Japs because of WWII(this was in early 1960s).

    LKY got his way, Marcus resigned or had to. Marcus was right. Chinese patients did not want to see these docs because they Japanese. No-one could understand them. The project was dropped.

  5. Based on a 2009 figure reported, of the 1362 doctors registered, 830 were foreigners. That's a whopping 6:10 ratio of FT: LT (60%). Given the big jump of population to 5.1m & medical tourism, that number must have swelled exponentially.

    With so much unemployment in US now, why don't we go after english speaking americans nurses/doctors? I bet is because we like to pay peanuts for 3rd world cheap talents that's why. The really best ones will be reserved for the high end patients such as sick african despot, mideast sultanates and Royalties from neighbours. The rest of the crumbs will go to serve local singaporeans who can't afford.

    Even SG drama is helping the govt to put more spurs by reminding them that a $4000 salary is really crap by today's standards. No wonder TFR & Marriage rates are all down. Who can blame the kids for trying out coca-cola -- at least they try to teach the world/bees to sing again.

  6. Hmmm...perhaps LKY believes that Sporeans just do not have what it takes to make the grade?

  7. NoOneIsGdEnough9/30/2011 2:28 PM

    Stop short of admitting MOE discriminating policy, Mr Heng said all these BS "number games" to control graduate populations must stop. Were it not for WikiLeaks (although many can already anecdotally confirmed this fact) that revealed their biased, you think they would so openly declare that we will have more places for local graduates? Is one thing to say so is another to actually do & prove it with figures.

    I'm utterly sick & tired of those who parrot the same rubbish by PAP "Foreigners are doing the jobs that Singaporeans don't want". Get this straight everyone " Foreigners are doing the jobs that Singapore Govt don't want to create for Singaporeans in the first place".

    The best part? They send one retired-elder to go on his outdated Nazi eugenics in schools to remind them "you're only more educated, not cleverer". So don't even try and overturn my hegemon.

  8. Marina Bay is built on shifting sand. So hungry for gdp and growth, they will stoop to anything to expand the landsize and fill the human density.

  9. I think most here miss the point. We are importing talent who happens to be trained in medicine. We don't want to spend more money on educating our 2nd class talents. It's much cheaper to let others trained the 1st class talent to work in Singapore for 2nd class pay and increasing our talent pool. All those 2nd class local talent are welcome to emigrate so that we can enhance our good gene pool in a shorter time.


  10. First class, 2nd class - who defines it? Based on whose values? So there is 3rd class and 4th class and so on & forth? What defines these classes. So who has been importing these caste system? Only the best can/shall rule. What defines best? A scholar? A spiritual leader? A top litigation lawyer? On what benchmarks? First class/rate = PAP = standard mould who wears white? standard mould who agrees with 1 party's views? everyone else is destructive?

    Give whatever label or name to the ponzi scheme however you like it..this society will NEVER evolve and transcend to something more enlightened if everything is measured merely by crass & simplistic tools used by this present govt. Import & Impose are their only solutions. The electorate would be "wiser" if they dispose and reject such nonsense.

  11. 1st class my foot. After 40 odd years of nation building and millions spend on 1st class talents at the courtesy of my tax money, what nobel prize laureate have you produced? Not even the son of white horse with 2 scholars and a soil expert who deserved deferment of NS can produce any quality work to prove? What 1st world democracy can you show me? What 1st world critical thinking academics or civil servant who dare openly disagree or critique the government can you find?

    "SG's economy never requires so many graduates " is like telling the entire population "SG's mothers never require so many babies". Throw them out with their bath water. So where do we find these babies and graduates now? Did you ever hear a word of "sorry" for all the "wrong policies"? 1st world talents who can't even admit they are wrong is never right to begin with.

  12. I also dissent with bringing in foreign doctors. But one thing to mention, dengue is a tropical disease. There are mozzie bites in Beijing but not a single mosquito carries dengue. This is simply a geographic or epidemiologic issue. No need to challenge Dr. Li's competency in this case. I suspect our local doctors are not familiar with diseases in frigid climate either.

  13. Now I'm getting worried. Which doctor expert should we believe?

    South China's Guangdong Province had reported 23 cases of dengue fever by July 16, according to sources with the Guangdong Provincial Health Department.

    All of the cases were reported in Guangzhou, capital of the province.

    The main symptoms of dengue fever, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, are high fever, muscle pain and headache.

    Local government and health departments have adopted a series of measures to eliminate Aedes mosquito breeding grounds and publicize methods for preventing the disease from spreading in the region.

    (Xinhua News Agency Daily July 18, 2003)

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