Training for any medical speciality requires a long duration of training.
It takes a newly graduated doctor a minimum of six years to be a specialist.
During the training, young doctors have to do their normal clinical work in the day time to accumulate experience, and to study at night to acquire knowledge.
In addition, a trainee has to be on standby for emergencies.
I remember when I was a gastroenterology trainee 18 years ago, I would be on standby for bleeding cases, in addition to the daytime work, and night-time studying.
When a patient with peptic ulcer bleeding visited the hospital, I would rush over in the middle of the night just to perform an emergency endoscopy.
A specialist can only be competent after he accumulates enough experience in managing both elective and emergency cases.
Madam Chong Sze Kah suggests imposing protected time for young doctors to have rest and family time (Young docs need family time as well; Sept 23).
But it would have the unintended consequence of prolonging their training to beyond six years or, worse, producing specialists that are inadequately trained.
Having an understanding spouse and family would be a better way to help a doctor to persevere in his training.
Contrary to Madam Chong's conclusion, being a doctor does require one to be altruistic and be willing to sacrifice personal and family time.
Desmond Wai (Dr)