Some complaints date as far back as 2017.
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A houseman’s death in Penang has raised questions regarding the toxic work environment faced by doctors.
The bullying is allegedly a rite of passage that junior doctors would have to go through and the toxic behaviours would be continued by senior doctors and nurses.
According to Astro Awani, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has received more than 120 complaints from medical professionals since 2017.
MMA President Dr Koh Kar Chai said the reports are not only from housemen but also from other doctors and specialists.
Since 2017, we have received more than 120 complaints. 80% are from housemen, 15% from doctors and 5% from specialists. So don’t assume that all complaints are from housemen. Other doctors also face these issues at work. The complaints aren’t only about cases of bullying but about work stress.MMA President Dr Koh Kar Chai
It’s a long-known issue
A 2021 study titled ‘Workplace Bullying Among Junior Doctors In Malaysia: A Multicentre Cross-Sectional Study’ concluded that it’s a prevalent issue in Malaysia.
Medical officers (MOs) are the common perpetrators of the toxic work environment (59.1%), followed by nurses and support staff (31%).
Some of the most frequent types of bullying are:
- Being asked to do work below the level of competence (21% weekly or daily)
- Be humiliated or ridiculed (17% weekly or daily)
- Physical intimidation bullying such as being shouted at or being the target of spontaneous anger. (16% weekly or daily)
Some doctors shared some of the abusive and toxic behaviours they have to deal with from senior doctors.
A Twitter user Tanuja shared her friend’s experience as an MO with an unreasonable specialist.
Tanuja’s friend arrived at work at 7.45am and began reviewing and finishing the cases she was in charge of.
However, a specialist came later and expected everyone to follow them when they make their rounds.
A friend who’s still in the system told me what happened to her .(She’s a MO)— Tanujaa Venugopal (@tanujaaV) May 3, 2022
She came to work at 7.45 am and started reviewing and done with the place she was incharge of .
Came in Specialist A and started round in a different place and expected everyone to be following.
The specialist then asked Tanuja’s friend what’s the case about. Since Tanuja’s friend wasn’t in charge of that area, she couldn’t answer.
The specialist then said, “If you’re a good doctor, you would have taken the initiative to read the other cases too.”
Tanuja said there was no way to finish reading all the cases the moment you stepped into work.
She also pointed out that the MO in charge of that particular area wanted to present but was denied. Instead, the specialist purposely put a junior MO on the spot to be belittled.
Work starts at 8am and how early you expect the person to be present there and finish reading all the cases.There are more than enough MO there to cover and the MO Incharge wanted to present the case but still you wana pick on the junior MO for no reason and wana belittle them .— Tanujaa Venugopal (@tanujaaV) May 3, 2022
Another Twitter user Qisti (@Qistisaurus), who’s also a doctor, shared her similar experience with an unreasonable senior doctor.
Qisti shared that there was an MO who liked scolding housemen for not thinking like a medical officer.
Instead of yelling at juniors, Qisti believes that it’ll be better to teach juniors how to think like a medical officer because everyone isn’t the same.
Ye semua orang aim nak berfikir macam MO. Bukan semua orang that talented tetibe start berfikir macam tu. Ajar lah HO tu macam mana nak fikir macam MO ek eleh kau ni cakap je lebih sebab kau sendiri pun takdelah sistematik sangat bising je lebih.— Qistisaurus (@mizzqisty) May 5, 2022
Another Twitter user @fhnmoiselle said that she was called the stupidest houseman by a registrar.
That hurtful statement stayed with her until today although it happened two and a half years ago.
A few of them shared about the physical abuse and bullying they faced as junior doctors.
Verbally abusive statements might sound minor to others but the damage can be lasting or cause unintended consequences.
Here’s to hoping our local doctors get better treatment at work and be treated like the medical professionals they are.
I carried the voice of my registrar in my head for 2 1/2 years of her saying “kau houseman paling bodoh”.— 🍉 (@fhnmoiselle) May 5, 2022
Sumpah verbally abusive. https://t.co/86jqMIaHSK
During my med school days, we had this gastroenterologist, Dr N. He was my supervisor. Very well known in abusing inferiors physically&verbally. He was teaching us one day, I got one of the answers wrong and he hit my private part using a tendon hammer, witnessed by my groupmates https://t.co/6cYXwbIvvK— Mohammad Shukri (@shukrikhoo) May 5, 2022
Hospital bullies ni bukan semestinya specialists or MO je. Honestly your fellow HO colleagues pun can bukly you really badly.— Fazlina (@fazlina_yahya) May 5, 2022
I have colleagues yang throw away my food from the pantry/guard house sebab diorang satu gang nak makan and lepak in pantry, they needed someone to jaga