Why Singapore?

Every now and then, friends and colleagues ask me, “Why are you here in Singapore?”. I’m not actually surprised since not many go through the same route that I’m taking.

And the next statement which follows would be, “You’re from UM or UKM?”. Since it’s the 2 only universities that are recognized in Singapore. Understandable. And when I say no to both, they’ll be stunned for a few seconds, just like how you stun them in DOTA.

Anyway, the very reason why I’m in a Singapore polyclinic is to be eligible to take the final paper of ย Diploma in Family Medicine in Malaysia, which is a 2-years course and I’m already close to the end. I travel back each time there’s lectures. Hopefully it pans out well to proceed on to the next path. RACGP, anyone? Then why not just practice in Malaysia instead since I’ve already attained full registration?

Well, you see. Our Klinik Kesihatans (KK) aren’t really a conducive place for on-going learning. Workload is crazy and there’s a huge number of patients to be seen, that is if you’re posted to a densely populated area in the city. In districts, it may not be as busy but most likely you”ll have to turn your “self-survival” mode on. Not to say that Singapore’s polyclinics workload is not crazy. We see approximately 50-70 patients per day per doctor depending on which cluster we’re in. However, the situation is more ideal for learning, with bosses monitoring your management and give you a big spanking if something is not done right. KK do have Family Physicians too but correct me if I’m wrong that most of them ย don’t actually bother with your “progress” as long the work gets done by the end of the day. Can’t blame them either, with the current glut of doctors in Malaysia, so many medical officers get thrown to the KKs with so few family physicians, how possibly can they monitor each and everyone’s progress?

Besides, with the same amount of work you’re doing in KK, why not Singapore with a better pay too? At least there will be a standardized care. And with that extra income, you can expand your portfolio by investing in properties, trust funds and insurance to secure a better future. I don’t believe in focusing solely on medicine for your basic necessities. In this new age, you need back ups.

I was in the private practice world for a year, but then I realized it’s heading no where. Working with a company was fine and all, good life, good pay, fixed working hours but there’s not much of a prospect and it kinda went against my principle to put sales at the top of my priorities. And when patients were referred as customers, I knew something was way wrong. As I was planning to leave, Singapore opened its door for me so I just took the opportunity.

Then why not be a general practitioner (GP)? To be honest, GP these days are struggling too. Ain’t gonna join in the fun. Working hours ain’t fantastic either. You’ll have to dedicate more than half a day at work to earn a decent living. With other headaches such as monthly rentals, staff payments, stock checks, licensing and management stuff, absolutely not worth the trouble. At least for now, for where I am. Just gotta set some standards for myself too before I venture out. Skills and knowledge are a must to being a good GP. Once I’m able stand on my both feet planted firmly on the ground then only I’ll think about it.

What’s your plan for the future? Thought about it yet?


17 thoughts on “Why Singapore?

  1. Hi there, first off I gotta say I enjoy following your blog as a 2nd year medical student. Thanks for the great writings. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m in Malaysia and I’m wondering about my future prospects after being a MO.
    Currently I only know of 2 choices, Local U for postgraduate masters, or MRCP-then-sub specialize (can I do this in Malaysia? Or Singapore?)

    You rarely talk about your study progress except now a bit in this post. I’m curious! I wonder if you can shed more light on this? Where-what-how-kinda post? That’s if you have ‘time to waste’ la ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yea, haha. I don’t really talk much about myself. Nothing fancy. It really depends on which university you’re in, the option changes. If you have inclination towards the medical field instead of surgery, MRCP is a good start. Once you’ve passed MRCP, you can try getting a job with MOHH, and if you succeed in doing so, you could apply into their residency program and proceed from there.

      • How long would it take to finish a residency program there? How much does it cost and will I be bonded to work there?

        I’m from UTAR, not UM/UKM. What about you? How’d you get to work there without being from UM/UKM? Then what diploma are you doing? Will it be registered as a specialist registrar? (In Malaysia/Singapore?) Are you bonded to work there? ๐Ÿ™‚

        Sorry many many questions. Hehe.

      • It depends on what discipline you get into. Average 4 years or so. As far as I’m concern, it won’t cost you a dime. I don’t call it being bonded but if you plan on practicing in Singapore, it will take you 4 years to get a full registration from conditional.

        I’m from IMU (completed locally). They offered me a job because I’ve already had 4 years experience as an MO. I’m actually going through the pathway for a family physician. Diploma is not applicable for specialist registration. RACGP then yes.

        And nope. I’m not bonded there either. No worries, feel free to ask. It’s always good to know in advance so that you can plan your path wisely.

      • Thanks a lot. :)) Just some more questions..

        Can I apply for a residency training if I only have a conditional registration? I thought Singapore only accept doctors with a basic degree from UM/UKM? How does it work if I’m from other universities? Is it that it doesn’t matter as long as I’ve served MO for a certain number of years?

        How did you apply there? Did you do a local degree or twinning program in IMU? Then what does a diploma give you in terms of job opportunity? How is it that you can do a Malaysian diploma and be in Singapore, is it tied down to an institute or hospital? And, isn’t family medicine considered as a specialty?

      • Yes, you can apply for residency when you have conditional registration. There is an unwritten rule that they may accept you if you have 4 years experience being an MO. It doesn’t matter which university you’re from but I believe they can be choosy too.

        If you’ve set your mind to go over to Singapore very early, I believe MRCP is the better option.

        As I’ve said earlier, mine is a local degree. The diploma itself doesn’t give me an advantage in job opportunity, it’s mainly for self improvement and achievement purposes.

        However, it’s a stepping stone to proceed with the RACGP exams. And yes, family medicine is a specialty. Thing is, everyone with an MBBS / MD degree in Malaysia can be a GP. I’m doing it coz I like family medicine but it won’t actually give you a super boost in income or status unlike the other specialties.

      • Ooh.. I see. What is the difference generally between a conditionally & fully registered doc there? ๐Ÿ™‚

        We can’t be a GP in Singapore (or Australia?) with just an MBBS? So with RACGP you’re like an ‘upgraded’ GP in Malaysia? Are you planning to come home to work/settle down?

      • You can read my post on “How to work in Singapore as a doctor?”. I wrote the difference between the two.

        You can be a GP in Singapore with MBBS provided you have full registration. But in Australia, you can’t be a GP unless you’ve passed RACGP. Kinda like what you said, a leveled up GP I suppose. My plans changes along the way, no definite plans yet.

  2. Hi Eric!
    I had a few questions to ask if you don’t mind.
    I completed my HO-ship and now in my first year service as an MO. I had applied to stay on in a hospital but due to shortages I was thrown (along with practically all of my housemen batch) to the district health clinics. Luckily, I am practicing in a bigger centre but after a few months here I am 100% sure that Family Med is just not suitable for me.

    I was always interested in being an internist so I’m mulling over the thought of sitting for the MRCP (Jan paper in Singapore) but I am deterred by one thought – most hospitals nowadays are not keen to accept a freshie MO unless they have a MRCP Part 2 or at the very very least, Part 1. I don’t know if training in a KK can give me a good enough clinical experience for the exams (in particular part 2). Do you think that the clinical experience while working in a health clinic is adequate for me to learn for MRCP? It certainly provides a better schedule for studying.

    Any input you can provide is appreciated. Thanks and sorry for such a lengthy post!

    • Hi Sarah,

      I’m surprised that you’re thrown to the clinics. Clinics were hard to get posting back in my days. Possibly there’s too many doctors they just can’t fit you into the hospitals now.

      Part 1 is still manageable while you’re still in the health clinics as the questions are MCQ based. Just need lots of practicing, that’s all. You can subscribe to those online MCQs (eg. OnExamination) and do tons of them.

      One thing for sure, you will definitely not get enough clinical experience just by working in the health clinic. Since Part 2 of MRCP are practical based, you need all the experiences you can get from examining patients. You hardly get to see patients with signs in the clinics, since they’re all “stable” patients. If not, they would not end up in the clinics in the first place.

      Best is to keep trying to get into Internal Medicine of any hospitals available, and with MRCP Part 1, your chances should be better.

  3. Hi Dr. Eric,

    I just completed my HOship few months ago, currently working as a medical MO in a tertiary hospital. I want to move to singapore as my fiance is there, however my basic degree is not recognized by Sg. I wanted to take MRCP initially but after few months, i really thk that hectic and stressful medical life is not the life i want. Im more interested in taking family medicine and work in polyclinic in sg as what u mentioned in your blog. Can you guide me the way if i can goto sg asap to work in polyclinic ?
    Do you thk if i have MRCP part I can fasten my speed to work as a GP in sg ? I really do not mind to work in polyclinic with good guidance as u said.

    Appreciate your reply asap.
    Thank you so much.

  4. Hi Eric,
    Ths for the amazing blog!
    Im curious whether working and living as a doc in Singapore would save more money than malaysia? (without conversion)
    As HO/pgy-1 wise, which has a higher workload?

    • Hi Nicole, it all depends on how you manage your finances, really. The only big difference is that when you work in Singapore, a big part of your income goes to your rental expenses. Rental in SG ain’t cheap. Of course if you already have a relative to stay with or own a place in SG itself, then definitely you’ll be able to save tons more.

  5. Hi Eric, your blog really provide so much info! Do you work in Singapore as temp or conditional registration?
    I am working in KK now too, 4 years experience as MO in KK. I have checked with MOHH that I am eligible for temporary registration, but I still have to search for a job myself as they will not be able to provide me a job because I am not conditional registration.
    Is it possible for me to work in private GP as temp registration? as i saw u mentioned before we can only work under government ? Hope you can share more about your own experience as a guideline for us. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hi Kit,

    Thanks for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Still temp reg because I am so reluctant to take their SRS program since it’s nothing really related to family medicine. You can’t work in the private GP setting with T-reg. Yes, you do have to search hospital by hospital or institutions as to whether they would hire you, and if they do then only SMC will decide whether to give you the T-reg license to practice.


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