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.