Wandering China

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[Singapore – ] Doctors being recruited from China [Today]


Singapore’s ethnic complexion continues to update itself with medical doctors from China.

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Doctors being recruited from China
by Ng Jing Yng
Source – Today Online, published April 16, 2011

SINGAPORE – The first six arrived last month. Come August, there will be another 15.

The entry of these medical officers from China marks the success of the Ministry of Health’s recent recruitment drives in the country to supplement the pool of doctors here, an MOH spokesperson told MediaCorp.

The first batch of six medical officers, who have been placed in various public hospitals such as the Singapore General Hospital, come from a list of eight accredited Chinese universities. As medical officers here, they qualify as doctors and will be trained further, for instance, in the specialist track or as a family physicians.

China is now a source for doctors, after a gradual expansion of the list of accredited medical schools, which now numbers 160. Other countries with a number of newly-recognised universities include Taiwan and Japan.

Last year, the authorities were “quite successful” in recruiting some 300 foreign graduates, largely from the United Kingdom and Australia, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan told MediaCorp.

Referring to the most recent arrivals, he said: “There are top medical schools, too, in China and we’re starting to tap this source to supplement our pool.”

Overall, doctors from overseas comprised 26 per cent of the 8,820 doctors here at the end of last year, with the majority from Malaysia and India.

The MOH’s spokesperson said that the number of locally-trained medical professionals has been increasing but “this will take time … we also recruit from overseas to cope with the projected increase in healthcare needs of an ageing population”.

She added that the Singapore Medical Council conducts “stringent checks, including source verification”, for every application for medical registration.

Even before last month, other pioneers from China have struck out on their own to practise in Singapore.

Dr Guo Song, 51, for instance, has been at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) since May 2004. There have been challenges, admitted the consultant at IMH’s addiction medicine department, and the Beijing native is still working to improve his English language skills and to understand the local working culture.

But he can speak easily in Mandarin with older patients and Mr Khaw agrees this “will be good for our patients”.

While not all Singaporeans speak Mandarin, the minister believes there are “more upsides than downsides”. He said: “(Chinese doctors) are very bright and in time will be able to adjust to the pace and culture here.”

There are programmes to assimilate foreign staff, for instance, at Jurong Health Services, which oversees Alexandra Hospital and the coming Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. The healthcare group’s chief executive, Foo Hee Jug, said doctors also work with a team who can assist in any communication issues.

Patients whom MediaCorp spoke to agreed that Chinese doctors would be useful due to the large Mandarin-speaking population here, as long as the doctors were competent.

Those who cannot speak Mandarin said they would rely on the translators. “Even though we all communicate at some level of English, it might be in a different accent, and it’ll be hard to understand word for word,” said Mr Anathan Perithaby, 50, who visits Tan Tock Seng Hospital for monthly check-ups.

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Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Chinese overseas, Culture, Health, Influence, International Relations, People, Singapore, Social, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Today Online

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