KOTA KINABALU June 27, 2012: Sabah is facing a shortage of assistant medical officers (AMOs).
According to the president of the Association of Medical Assistants Sabah (AMAS), Joseph Kajangan, the state presently has 1,160 AMOs serving at public hospitals and clinics.
“This is what have been given to Sabah, but definitely we need more. We need 1,000 more. The current figure is not enough. Even though the (health) service is not interrupted and we can still function, we need the extra people for the extended programmes like Klinik Malaysia and other new facilities that have been introduced,”
he said after closing the first National Clinical Conference of Assistant Medical Officers 2012 Sabah yesterday.
Fortunately, he said Sabah would soon have its first batch of graduate AMOs from Kolej Sains Kesihatan Bersekutu Kota Kinabalu in January, next year.
“A total of 70 students will be graduating from the college next year … the college began operating in 2010, and these are our first batch of students graduating. Presently, a total of 400 students are training to become AMOs in the college,” he said.
Meanwhile, four resolutions were reached after the three-day conference held at 1Borneo Grand Ballroom.
“We want to have relevant degrees for the AMOs to pursue their studies, and we want them to enhance their clinical knowledge, especially in handling emergency cases.
“We would also like them to enhance their role and responsibility in the management of communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria, as well as non-communicable disease such as diabetes, hypertension and so on. We also want our AMOs to enhance their clinical knowledge so they can develop their next step in the specialisation and sub-specialisation field.”
He said AMOs were needed to assist specialists in open heart surgery, for instance.
“The surgeon will do the operation, but the technologists are actually the AMOs,” he said.
He added that after undergoing their three years’ diploma programmes, most AMOs started to work prior to undergoing specialised training in their preferred field.
“We want our AMOs to develop their skill and knowledge and ability in this specialised field. There are quite a number of fields, including anesthesia, hemodialysis, pre-hospital care and others. Basically, specialists require AMOs to assist them. They are the clinical assistants,” he said.
He said AMAS was encouraging its members to undergo their specialist training as they should not stop with merely a diploma in their hands. “In this modern world, we cannot stop at the level of diploma. You have to go for degree and masters. The government has already created the pathway in terms of grade and salary but we don’t have enough qualified people to fulfill that requirement,” he said.
He also said the number of specialised courses for AMOs was limited.
“Only Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is offering a degree course in Emergency. There are several private higher learning institutes offering their own specialised courses but these are not relevant. We want something relevant so that when they (AMOs) return, they are competent and capable.”
More than 600 AMOs took part in the conference.