The Salary of a Medical Officer / Resident in Malaysia

I’ve always been curious on how much a medical officer would earn in the private sector and I’ve been doing some research for the past 1 year. Medical officers make up the majority bulk of doctors in Malaysia and that’s why I’m listing them down for the MOs instead of specialists or consultants. The list will give you a rough idea on how’s the market is like, for those who has the interest in venturing into the outside world.

Government Sector

Medical Officer UD 44 – RM 4,500 – RM 5,500 (inclusive of on-call claims and allowances)

Medical Officer UD 48 – RM 6,000 – RM 7,500 (inclusive of on-call claims and allowances) *revised*

Private Sector (Gross Pay per month)

Private Clinic Chains – RM 7,000 – RM 12,000

  • Long working hours. May have to work from 9am-9pm with breaks in between. Some clinics offer ridiculously low starting pay so be wary. A good option if you plan to begin your journey as a family physician.

Pharmaceutical Company – RM 8,000 – RM 9,000

  • Fixed working hours. However, not much of clinical work. Mainly involved in health talks and drug publicity.

Insurance Company – RM 7,000 – RM 9,000

  • Fixed working hours too. Self explanatory. Boring stuff if you ask me.

Oil and Gas Company / Western Company – RM 11,000 – RM 15,000

  • One of the highest paid sector. You’re hired as a private doctor for the company. Mainly to take care of their workers and families. Job offers are limited and you may be required to work offshore.

A&E of a private Hospital – RM 7,000 – RM 8,500

  • Work in shifts. 

Private University Lecturers / Clinics – RM 7,000 – RM 8,000

  • Fixed working hours. If you like to teach, this may be a good starting point. If you’re into research, this may be another option too.

Healthcare Centers – RM 9,000 – RM 13,000

  • Similar to clinics, these healthcare centers are run in a bigger scale with specialists and consultants. Work involves general practitioner stuff.

Aesthetic Centers – RM 9,000 – RM 15,000

  • Another famous sector where everyone seems to be interested in, mainly because of the money involved. Most reputable centers do offer quite a deal. If you’re interested in beautifying someone, you may consider this.

Do take note that these figures are just gross pay. Which means income tax and EPF have not been deducted yet. When you’re working in the government, the basic pay is generally much lower, hence tax wise, is negligible. Allowances are not taxable. So, what you see is what you get on your pay slip. However, in the private sector, you’ll be paying an estimated RM 500 – RM 1,500 for income tax, depending on the amount that you’re earning. Therefore, for a gross pay of RM 10,000, you would probably take home about RM 8,500 after deducting income tax and EPF. Going into the private does not guarantee you a better life. There are pros and cons to it. However, if you do manage to make the right choice, you will have a better quality of life.

Medical Officer. Government or Private Practice? Migration?

I believe there are many medical officers out there that are in dilemma, of which path to take in the near future upon completion of their service.

What are the options available?

If it was 10 years back, or maybe 20, the choice was pretty much obvious. However, in view of the current numbers of doctors that are being churned out by the local and private universities, you may have to decide early on your next path of choice.

Ask yourself this question, what is your aim in doing medicine? To be at the top? To be a specialist/consultant? To have a comfortable life? To save lives? (as cliche as this may sound, some do have the extreme passion). Take out a piece of paper, and write down a time line from the day you started houseman-ship and the expected number of years for you to achieve your goal.

Second question, where do you want to be in the next 5 years? Malaysia? Singapore? Australia? New Zealand? US? UK?

For those who are planning to be in the surgical field, and to stay put in Malaysia, then you have one and only choice, stay in the government practice till’ you get where you want to be. For those who’s interested in practicing in Singapore, getting FRCS is another option. Once you obtain it, you’re eligible to work with the government in Singapore and continue with their MASTERS program.

For those who wish to go over to the other countries, then plan ahead and take the necessary exams. AMC for Australia. USMLE for US. PLAB for the UK and etc. Please do keep this in mind that despite passing these exams doesn’t necessary guarantee you a job in the country that you want but at least you have some form of a back up.

For those who wants to specialize in medicine in Malaysia, there are 2 ways for you to achieve this. Either you complete the MASTERS program or the MRCP. Either way, you’ll be stuck in the government service for the many long years to come for you to be gazetted as a specialist. No point leaving the government sector then.

Then who should leave for private practice? Keep in mind that I’m looking at it from a financial point of view too, with a better long term gain and better quality time. Doctors need to makan (eat) too.

  • If you plan to have a stable income and more family time, this may be an alternative. It depends on the nature of the work you want. Different private clinics have different working hours. You have to look for one that suits you the most.
  • If you’re interested in family medicine. The alternative pathway apart from doing MASTERS, you can opt to complete the family medicine program with the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia, which takes up 4 years. You can do it privately as long as you’re in GP practice. Upon completion, you’ll be awarded with FRACGP.
  • You have a child, or children. You need the  time to raise them. Your spouse has a stable income too.
  • You plan to migrate. You are sitting for the entrance/qualifying exams and are awaiting results. No point in staying with the government sector. You are better paid outside, with much more time to spare.

The very reason why I’ve mentioned this is because of increasing numbers of doctors. The Malaysian market is pretty much saturated now. And in the years to come, you may not even have a job. So plan ahead. Don’t end up being a chronic one who’s lost in translation and only to realize that you’re too late when all opportunities are taken right in front of you. To be able to plan ahead, you would have additional income that may allow you to invest in something else, be it property or shares, or even pay for your exam fees, that may help you in the long run.

Housemanship & Completion of Service

It’s been a while since I last posted as I was preoccupied with some games. Lately, I’ve been coming across a lot of blogs about housemen venting out their anger and frustration and wanting to call it quits. Believe me, I’ve suffered through the houseman-ship period just like the rest of you, but quitting half way before you complete your service with the government ain’t gonna be worth it.

Once you’ve completed your service, then only you think of what you would want to do with your life. Finishing the service is the same as getting a license in hand. Many parents these days had spent quite a substantial amount of money to get you that medical degree. Now, I’m not gonna argue with you whether or not it was your choice that you wanted to do medicine, or it was your parents’. However, once you’re in it, make sure you finish it.

You may argue and say that there’s a lot of options out there, apart from practicing medicine. That’s true. Plenty of choices. But, you should have made that choice before you went into medicine. Spending 5-6 years in medical school only to know that you’re not fit for the job is a total waste of time. For those who yearns to do medicine, think hard and think twice before you join the bandwagon. It’s not as fun as you think it is.

Once you’ve completed your service, your options are wider. You stand a better chance of getting a job elsewhere as compared to a fresh graduate with an MBBS/MD degree.

For those who are yet to finish their houseman-ship period or service, don’t give up. I understand that there are a lot of hospital politics out there that may put you down but just bear with it and take it like man (or a woman). Even colleagues may stab you from the back if you’re not careful. Don’t let work get over your head. Work smart. You are in control of your own life. Work shouldn’t control you. For work related issues, deal with it during work and leave them at work before you head back. Endure it the next day once you head back to work. As easy as it may sound, that’s the best way to beat stress.

Go do something. Anything. Have something to look forward to. Go watch a movie. Hang out with your buddies. Go shopping. Play video games (my favorite). As long as you are able to unwind those unwanted stress would be great. There’s no point in sulking at home after a tough day at work. And hopefully, this will bring you through that compulsory 4 years.