Internship requirement for foreign doctors in Hong Kong is fair

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 April, 2015, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 April, 2015, 5:13pm

Having seen Chris Jones' article ("Hurdles for foreign doctors reveal double standards", April 9), which was posted on the "Hong Kong medical licentiate exam" group on Facebook, I would like to give my two cents on this matter.

One year ago, I would have agreed with every single word in that article. Having gone through almost 10 months of my internship here, I have to say my perspective has changed.

Firstly, if you think hiring a few foreign, highly qualified specialists would drastically dissolve the workload of the local doctors, then take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Because of the hierarchical structure of the system, the medical staff that the Hong Kong healthcare system needs most are the ones on the front line - nurses, junior doctors, interns and so on - as they are the ones doing most of the clinical work.

No disrespect to the consultants, but they have to deal with more administrative and management issues. So, from the local administrators' point of view, they couldn't give a flying fox about missing out on hiring those fully fledged specialists.

Secondly, the local doctors have been through one of the most brutal trainings in the world, and - no offence - these doctors deserve that specialist post more than any foreign graduate.

They rack up more hours than their foreign counterparts, with the same number of years of training under their belts.

How do you think they would feel when a non-Cantonese-speaking specialist who has never been on call for more than 12 hours goes straight into a job which they have literally given up their entire lives for?

In fact, this scenario would be totally unimaginable in any other country (think of a foreign non-English-speaking doctor becoming a specialist in the United Kingdom without any exams or internship).

I worked in the UK for three years before relocating back here. For the most part of my life, I have moved around various parts of the world.

Being an intern here has made me much more confident with the language, and, in the process, I have come to appreciate the unparalleled work ethic of some of the local doctors.

So put your egos away, delete Facebook, smash this exam, and grind out the internship one day at a time.

Get used to the fact that Hong Kong is now part of China. Complaining about any Chinese legislation is more ridiculous than this exam and the internship put together.

Dr Michael Li-Taurus, Kowloon City