It was raining outside
It looked like it would be raining outside. I just had lunch and was about to leave for Friday Prayers. But with the rain, I may have to give it a rest.
Today would mark the third week that I would be in Kelang teaching my Medical Students. I have another week to go, but it would be the exam week then. So, the students were understandably anxious - Malaysian education system is exam-driven, right from kindergarten to Medical School. We finished our clinical session just now and after another tutorial this afternoon, that would be it for the week. They had another pair of lecturers before me for four weeks, so all together they would have a total 7 weeks of teaching. For the exam next week, I prepared an essay question, as well as organising the clinical examination short cases for each one of them. All 44 of them.
When I first started coming to Kelang back in 2004, there were only 32 students in my class. All of them have graduated, and some of them still kept in touch. It was easy as I enjoy teaching, but 44 students to one lecturer was just way too much. There were too many compromises being made, and in the three weeks I had so far with them, I was sure not all of the students were happy. They had to understand however that I can;t please everyone, not it was my job to please them.
I kept on stressing to the department and the students that my role here in Kelang would be to facilitate teaching. Facilitating does not mean spoon-feeding them with information. As Medicine was such a wide and varied subject, I was not capable, or should be expected to be able to know everything. The pace of the development in Medicine was also very rapid. I read journals just to keep up and it was not easy to stay at the cutting edge of things. But at least the UM Medical Students should be grateful. They have dedicated lecturers who came and taught, them, not only from my department, but from Surgical, Gynaecology and Paediatrics as well. I can name a few other medical schools who struggle to keep up. They may have far too many medical students to cope with and were not able to supervise all of them. Here, at UM, even though we had to struggle at times, we tried our best to keep up and were successful most of the time. But I was not sure how long we can keep up with the 44 to 1 ratio. It was starting to break my back ….. I was worried that we give too much emphasis on quantity rather than quality.
The students complained that they did not have enough teaching. The lecturers complained that it was too much work to do going about teaching these large group. The Management were under pressure to produce more doctors by the powers that be. And I understood that Malaysia needed more doctors in general. The solution here may be very obvious. We need more lecturers. We need more people on the ground. We need to recruit more people. We need to bring the 44:1 ratio down. But there were not too many people to take up the task of being medical lecturers as it took time and commitment to do it well. There were many more easier path to take on to progress in medical career compared to being a lecturer. It was a vicious cycle. But we have to start somewhere and we have to make the job of being a lecturer more attractive.We have to start paying the medical lecturers better salary. Certainly there were move in that direction, but would be enough to make the carrer choice more attractive would it be able to make the career choice more attractive , than say, a chronic MO in Kementerian Kesihatan. I bet some of them were paid more than me doing half the amount of work.
It was raining heavily outside. It looked like that I will be missing my Friday prayers.