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.

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18 thoughts on “Medical Officer. Government or Private Practice? Migration?

  1. i also wan to ask a question from u . i hav done specialization in gynae n want to work in malaysia .now what to do

  2. Hi. I love reading ur blog n din know u like earth captain anime as well!! Haha. Can I have your emails to ask more about working prospect in SG? In d mean time, I plan to become surgeon in singapore. Could you guide me? Planning to take mrcs exam. Is it final part has to complete in SG? But I heard u might never complete d last part of mrcs in SG since u will need to b given a training post in surgery department, tat’s if they give since it’s so competitive there.

    And about what u wrote:
    “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.”

    I know MRCS is only an entrance exam. Is it a must to complete MRCS to be able to take FRCS? How can we do FRCS as a msian in msia/SG?

    Thanks so much for ur help. =)

    • Hello Ed,

      Thanks for keeping up with my blog. 😉

      As you know, I’m not really into surgical stuff if you’ve been following my blog. However, I do have a friend who passed his MRCS in Malaysia and he managed to get a job with MOHH. And just a few months in Singapore, he was accepted into the residency program. However, he has to start his residency program from Year 1, and it takes 6 years to complete. Getting into a program isn’t that hard in Singapore if you have a good working attitude and the bosses favor you.

      As to how you can do FRCS after MRCS, I’m totally clueless. Didn’t really look into those in detail. What I do know is that FRCS is one of the prerequisite for sub-specialty.

      You can email me at lilchocs@gmail[dot]com.

    • There’s only 2 pathways at the moment, which is the MASTERS way, or the FRACGP way. Am not entirely sure what do you mean by alternative pathway.

  3. Hi eric,

    im a MO currently at 4 plus years of service. Im planning to do FRACGP. I was wondering if i quit government n work in a private GP, assuming i pass my final exams.. where will i be employed (govt or private)? In simple words what are my job options after completing the programme?

    • Hi Ioshini, if you’re taking about after passing RACGP, you can be employed by either side. It’s your own preference anyway. In GP land, it’s either you join a chain or build up your own clinic.

  4. Hi Eric,Firstly,Thanks you very much for this very informative blog.Read most of your posts about working life in Singapore,and i find it interesting/promising especially i also have plan to migrate to Singapore one day.I hv questions for you with regards to my future planning..i really hope you can enlighten me as much as you can…please take your time to answer it..
    As for introduction,Im currently work as a houseman in one of Malaysia government hospital.Im bonded to government for 10 years(im University Malaya’s scholars) plan to specialise in medicine(Dermatology) and I have very strong passion in academia.I can see myself as a lecturer in 10 years time from now.So my questions:

    1)what do you think about my plan to migrate to Singapore after serving the Malaysian government for 10 years?Mind you…I would probably hv become specialist that time with gred UD52/54 since its time based promotion.

    2)lets say i finish my bond with the government,and my age that time will be around 35years old,would that affect my application to work in Singapore?how to streghten my application to be accepted to work in Singapore?

    3)would you mind to list pros and cons explicitly If you were in my shoes to migrate to Singapore after 10 years from now?Especially in terms of salary and gred.

    4)If i accepted to work in government sector in Singapore,would there be any pension once i retired?could you please highlights the benefits that i would received once i retires?

    5)what is advantage/disadvantages of non-singaporean working in singapore government? how long does it take to be a permanent resident in Singapore?

    6)how does Malaysian apply to work as a medical lecturer in public university in Singapore eg NUS?

    7)lastly,would you still advice me to work in Singapore?I have no liability,Im single,no spouse,no kids.

    Thank you in advance for your time.I really appreciate it. 🙂

    • Hi Unlucky Student,

      To be honest, having to predict what will happen in 10 years is almost close to impossible for me. A lot of things may change, even for yourself, you may be single now, there’s still possibilities of you having child(ren) in the years to come. That itself would change your perspective in life.

      As of the current situation, Singapore is still on the look out for working professionals. However, I can’t tell you if it’s gonna be the same 10 years later. Singapore has started their own residency programs not too long ago, so by then, the demand for specialists / consultants may not be as great as now.

      In terms of salary, it’s no-brainer that you’ll definitely earn more in Singapore.With the current exchange rate, it’s almost on par with Australian dollar.

      As far as I know, there’s no pensions for working adults, be it government or private. Singapore has CPF, as to what we call EPF back home. Benefits to retiring? Hm. Singaporeans here work hard, and they work until they are old. The only benefit I can think of is when you’ve saved enough money, you can retire in Malaysia with cash reserves in hand.

      If you’re a foreigner, everything’s expensive. Medical expenses, tourist spots and even purchasing properties. If you’re planning on staying long term, best to apply for PR. You can start applying after working for 6 months or more.

      • Thank you Eric for the detail answers.Just so you know what triggers me to ask this question is because nowdays new houseman has to make very early decision wether to choose EPF or pension scheme(Before pengesahan jawatan which is the very first day they come to their placement hospital).And the decision is final and no appeal will be entertain.I dont think i want to stay back in the government for too long.(as i wish to migrate)..and im so glad i bump into your blog and able to get some insight from you how working life in Singapore will be..And I agree with you its hard to predict what will happen in the future…so i have to make an inform and wise decision from now.
        Eric,Im still not clear how a foreigner can apply to work as medical lecturer in Public University Singapore?Lets say soomeone with MRCP qualification,would they able to apply to be a lecturer?

      • If you have no plans on staying with the government, taking EPF is definitely the better option. Pension is only for those who wants to stick with the government sector until they retire.

        As to how you can apply for a lecturer post, I can’t advise you on that. I think you have to email NUS and ask about the details involved.

  5. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am
    having troubles with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it.
    Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anybody who
    knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!

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