Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Malaysian English needs life support: Poor English among doctors, stops medical grads

 The Star says: Young doctors in the country are struggling with their poor command of English. They face problems communicating with patients and their peers. Even so called top students who make it to medical schools are falling short in their language skills. They news comes after The Star reported on Monday that weak English was the main reason some 1,000 medical graduates had ended their ambition to become doctors.

Poor English proficiency has also affected young doctors, reports The Star. – Wiki Commons pic, November 11, 2015.

Poor English proficiency has not only affected medical graduates, but undergraduates and new doctors as well, reports The Star.

Quoting the medical deans council of public universities chairman Prof Datuk Dr Raymond Azman Ali, the English daily reported that this would affect the quality of service of doctors since they have to communicate with both patients and their peers as well.

“It is not just a problem among medical undergraduates. We can detect similar problems with young doctors.

“With all due respect, it is apparent in hospitals when they do their presentations and converse with their peers and seniors. “English is a common language for medicine. Most of the time, we have to publish journals and present in English. It would be bad for us if we cannot communicate our work properly,” Dr Raymond said.

He said more than 90% of journals were published in English, and citing his own experiences when he was studying medicine in Australia's Monash University, where all cases were presented in English.

“How do you expect them to comprehend medical theses and help patients if they cannot understand them in the first place?” he was quoted as saying.

The Star said Dr Raymond pointed out many medical students have excellent results on paper, but have problems expressing their views during interviews.

“When we conduct our interviews in public universities, most of their results look good on paper. But if we ask them to explain something, they will ask us whether they can answer in Malay. When we ask again in English, they will get stuck,” he said.

The Star reported on Monday that some 1,000 medical graduates have stopped becoming doctors, with their poor command of English being a main factor.

Other factors include lack of interest in basic medical training, poor communication skills with patients and frustration over working conditions.

The English daily also quoted National Heart Institute (IJN) consultant cardiologist Dr Shaiful Azmi Yahya as expressing concern over the high drop out rate due to lack of English proficiency, noting that doctors needed good command of the language to further excel in their work.

However, he conceded that poor English skills were not confined to Malaysia, saying that other non-English speaking nationalities also face the same problem.

“There are many doctors who have ideas they want to share with the audience but when they present, their English is so bad that the audience cannot understand them.

“I went to a conference and there were Koreans and Japanese doctors who took part. When we tried to respond to their presentations, they could not understand what we had asked,” he was quoted as saying.

Dr Saiful graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1994, and said medicine was taught in English.

“Most of our lecturers then were Malaysians, although we did have the exception of one Myanmar and one English professor.

“We used international textbooks and journals. We did have some translated books and I remember a physiology book that was in Malay.

“During study group sessions, we used Malay and English but during examinations, we would still have to answer in English,” he told The Star.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said ongoing efforts were being taken to further improve the usage of the English language.

“I will be organising a dialogue with all stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and relevant organisations such as the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) who have been working closely with us,” he had said.

The Malaysian Insider had reported in June last year that employers were becoming increasingly dismayed by Malaysia's "generation Y" job seekers, due to their poor command of the English language and communication skills.

A survey by the Malaysian Employers Federation a few years ago found that 60% of them identified low English proficiency as the main problem with young recruits.

A similar survey conducted in September 2013 by online recruitment agency JobStreet.com found that 55% of participating senior managers and companies said poor command of the English language was the main reason for unemployment among undergraduates.

School leavers might have SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) English grades of A and B, but could not even hold a conversation in English, MEF executive director Datuk Shamsudin Bardan told The Malaysian Insider. – November 10, 2015.

Sources: The Malaysian Insiders

Poor English among doctors - Experts: Medical graduates can’t work well without good grasp of language

PETALING JAYA: The declining state of English proficiency is rearing its head in the medical fraternity.

Medical deans council of public universities chairman Prof Datuk Dr Raymond Azman Ali expressed concern over the poor command of the language among medical undergraduates and new doctors.

“It is not just a problem among medical undergraduates. We can detect similar problems with young doctors.

“With all due respect, it is apparent in hospitals when they do their presentations and converse with their peers and seniors,” he said.

He said this would affect their services since doctors had to communicate with patients and their counterparts efficiently.

“English is a common language for medicine. Most of the time, we have to publish journals and present in English. It would be bad for us if we cannot communicate our work properly,” he added.

Dr Raymond said over 90% of the journals were published in English.

“How do you expect them to comprehend medical theses and help patients if they cannot understand them in the first place?” he asked.

Sharing his own experience when he studied medicine in Monash University, Australia, he said all his cases were presented in English.

“This definitely helped me to understand complex theories and present my papers in my final year.”

Dr Raymond said many medical students showed excellent credentials on paper but when interviewed, they had trouble expressing themselves.

“When we conduct our interviews in public universities, most of their results look good on paper. But if we ask them to explain something, they will ask us whether they can answer in Malay. When we ask again in English, they will get stuck,” he said.

On Monday, The Star reported that weak English was the main reason some 1,000 medical graduates had failed to become full-fledged doctors despite having completed a two-year housemanship in public hospitals.

National Heart Institute (IJN) consultant cardiologist Dr Shaiful Azmi Yahya expressed alarm over the high number who dropped out due to poor English.

He said medical doctors needed a good command of the language to excel in their field and it was not merely to understand medical references and textbooks.

“Doctors do travel and attend conferences in the course of their work,” he said. However, he noted that language problems were not exclusive to Malaysians as other non-English, native-speaking nationalities also faced the same hurdle.

“There are many doctors who have ideas they want to share with the audience but when they present, their English is so bad that the audience cannot understand them.

“I went to a conference and there were Koreans and Japanese doctors who took part. When we tried to respond to their presentations, they could not understand what we had asked,” he said.

The Daily Mail in Britain highlighted the case of Italian doctor Dr Alessandro Teppa, 45, who was banned from practising in Britain due to his bad English.

The report said that despite working as a urologist in Britain since 2012, Dr Teppa’s command of English was so poor that he posed “significant risks to patients”.

Dr Shaiful, who graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1994, said he benefited from the system in UKM, where medicine was taught in English.

“Most of our lecturers then were Malaysians, although we did have the exception of one Myanmar and one English professor.

“We used international textbooks and journals. We did have some translated books and I remember a physiology book that was in Malay.

“During study group sessions, we used both Malay and English but during examinations, we would still have to answer in English,” he said.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kama­lanathan said ongoing efforts were being taken to further improve the English language.

“I will be organising a dialogue with all stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and relevant organisations such as the Perfor­mance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) who have been working closely with us,” he told reporters.

BY RAHIMY RAHIM, NURBAITI HAMDAN, JOASH EE DE SILVA, andVINCENT LIAN The Star

Poor English stops medical grads - 1,000 students drop out due to poor command of the language


Medical graduates finding it hard to cope in their professional field and their inability to communicate in English is one of the reasons. - posed by models

MALACCA: Poor command of English has put paid to the ambition for some 1,000 medical graduates to become doctors despite having completed a two-year housemanship in public hospitals.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Malacca chapter president Prof Dr M. Nachiappan said these trainee doctors could not cope with the pressure of continuing to be a full-fledged doctor.

“Despite having completed their housemanship last year, they are no longer keen to be doctors.

“The main reason was poor grasp of English. This is not good for the medical fraternity and does not augur well for the nation if stakeholders do not execute some plans to improve the standard of English,” he said.

Dr Nachiappan said other contributing factors were lack of interest in basic medical training, poor relationship skills with patients and frustration due to working condition. He said without proficiency in English, medical students would find it difficult to keep pace with their peers from other nations.

“There must be an urgency to improve the grasp of the language at the primary level. Otherwise, the quality of doctors will go downhill,” he said.

“There must be an urgency to improve the grasp of the language at the primary level. Otherwise, the quality of doctors will go downhill,” he said.

Dr Nachiappan, who is also the deputy dean of Melaka Manipal Medical College, said medical schools were also facing difficulties in churning quality medical graduates due to lack of exposure in English.

He said this was evident with the poor results obtained by medical students when pursuing their stu­dies in universities and medical colleges.

“The quality of our students are compromised due to their inabilities to communicate in English,” he said, adding that most reference books on medicine and lectures were delivered in English.

Earlier, he met a group of 11 Parents-Teachers Association chairmen who were unhappy that the Education Ministry had omitted their schools from the privilege of implementing the dual language programme (DLP).

They have been lobbying for teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy since 2009.

The group’s spokesman Mak Chee Kin said they had been fighting hard to be part of the DLP for six years.

“It is unfair to us as some secondary schools which have objected to PPSMI are included.

“We hope our plight will be considered by the ministry. As parents, we felt English is crucial for the future of our children,” he said, adding that all three criteria – adequate English teachers, sufficient resources and consent from parents – were met.

The schools were SM St Francis, SM St David, SM Catholic, SM Notterdam, SM Yok Bin, SM Gajah Berang, Chinese High School, SM Pulau Sebang, SM Infant Jesus Convent, SM Canossa Convent and Methodist Girl School.

BY R.S.N. MURALI The Star

Related articles:

An ace in school but not in working life

‘Students aren’t keen on learning’

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in the United States capped the number of working hours an intern (houseman) and resident (medical officer) can work consecutively at 16 and 24 respectively, to reduce the risk of medical errors by these tired doctors. - Filepic