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The Importance of Training for Medical Students

Professor Dr Shah Yasin, Head of School for the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences (JCSMHS) at Monash Malaysia shares how medical students are prepared for the realities doctors face.
Private Hospital Engagement
For the last three years, medical students at JCSMHS have had the opportunity to engage with private hospitals over the course of their undergraduate degree.
“We have a number of private hospitals which actively take our students. These include Sunway Medical Centre, which hosts the largest number of our students; Tropical Medical Centre; and the Darul Ehsan Medical Centre,” shared Professor Shah.
In private hospitals, students can tap into the knowledge of highly experienced specialists who have at least 10 years under their belt. Students have also shared that they have easier access to specialists, many of whom are keen teachers, at private hospitals.
In comparison to public hospitals where you can see up to 40 patients in the morning, students may see less than 10 patients at a private hospital. Professor Shah explained that it is this leisurely pace which allows some time for specialists to address questions students may have. Additionally, both doctors and patients have also found students helpful. Students are able to assist doctors and specialists in various tasks, including sourcing for information from the latest journals.
On top of that, student doctors have also been well received by patients. With hospitals being a lonely place for some patients, medical students often offer companionship, which helps with lifting patient moods, and subsequently improving patient wellbeing. Students also sometimes act as information bridges, when patients are reluctant to ask specialists questions. The response from private hospitals regarding the presence of medical students at the hospital has been encouraging. According to Professor Shah, following a survey that was conducted in the hospitals where students were posted for their pre-internship, the university found that not a single patient, to date, has refused to be seen by students.
Pre-intern Posting
The university’s Year 5 program is essentially a pre-intern (ie pre-housemanship) year, but with additional academic requirements.“The program consists of six blocks, each lasting six weeks. Our students are attached to a consultant for each block,” he explained.
Students do these six pre-intern postings in different places, with two compulsory postings in Australia and four locally, including one in Segamat Hospital, Johor. While students are supposed to act and behave as interns, and do almost all the work of an intern, they do not yet take on the full responsibilities of an intern.
These pre-intern postings gives them a taster as it expose them to various environments including the Australian healthcare system, a rural hospital, a private hospital and a large public hospital, such as the SultanahAminah Hospital, where they also need to complete a Patient Safety Module.
The module is an important curriculum, which deals with the importance of ensuring the safety of patients – for example, the correct way of transporting critically ill patients.
There is also another block on Indigenous Care, which focuses on the health of the indigenous people who have unique health issues and worse health outcomes compared to the general population. It is believed that there are many parallels in the social and health issues of indigenous people around the world.
In Malaysia, students will also look into health issues of the Orang Asli, both in the hospital and through Orang Asli community visits during their pre-internship program.
Professor Shah explained that rural hospitals differs vastly from public hospitals, as there are fewer services and specialists, making it important for students to acquire a broad range of experience to prepare them for this post.
Through their holistic approach to education, Monash has produced well-rounded undergraduate medical students who have benefitted from learning a wide range of issues, including the healthcare system and work culture in Australia to the social determinants of health.
For more information on the medical program at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, at Monash University Malaysia, please visit www.med.monash.edu.my.

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