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Develop a Singapore medical training programme

There is to be a review of the training of doctors under the American residency programme, as it does not seem to have worked as well as we hoped (MOH reviews doctors' training to become specialists; Oct 1).

Then there is the British programme, which some specialities still use to train their doctors, alongside the American system. However, this is not always a comfortable match either.

The fundamental question is: Do we need to lean so heavily on either or both the American or British programmes? Why not just pick the best parts to fit our local context and needs?

Medical education has steadily progressed in Singapore for more than 100 years. We have trained generations of excellent doctors, many of whom are diligently practising and teaching in various fields of medicine today.

Do we have the confidence to use our own expertise and not depend on imported programmes? Surely, we can tap the rich legacy of medical expertise and skills we have nurtured over the years.

Besides ensuring that any training programme is relevant, we must also make sure that it is uniformly available to all trainees. They must receive fair and adequate supervision, training and assessment, whether they are in peripheral hospitals or major hospitals.

A fast-track programme appears to be counterproductive to the objectives of sound medical training.

There is no short cut to accumulating adequate skills and knowledge.

I hope the Ministry of Health will give due consideration to the practical issues that may have a long-lasting impact on the training of doctors to meet the needs of our society.

Ho Ting Fei (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Develop a Singapore medical training programme'. Print Edition | Subscribe