By Ms Adlina Ab Rahim, 2nd Year Medical Student at NUI Galway
Last Saturday I was given the opportunity to attend a talk held primarily by Education Malaysia, Mercy Malaysia UK and MedTweetMy alongside various student-based organisations throughout Ireland.
It was the first of its kind, and offered valuable insights from top-notch healthcare professionals about the reality facing medical students aiming to pursue their career in Malaysia. A well needed exposure following the newly announced policies for housemanship contract scheme in Malaysia’s 2017 Budget.

The talk was divided mainly into 3 sessions with a forum in between the last two to address questions gathered from eager attendees of the event. I figured the enlightenment I received should be shared with others, so here I am typing out my notes. Hope it’ll be of benefit to anyone out there. *smiles*
Session 1: Getting Out Of Your Shell by Dr Afida Sohana Awang Soh (Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Rafiz Maternity Hospital, Klang; Secretary of MedTweetMy)

Dr Afida or more casually referred to as ‘Kakok’ emphasized maintaining a healthy work/study-life balance. She urged us to enjoy the journey as a medical student and get involved in the community through societies and in the process hone communication skills that’ll assist us later in our careers.

A few tips she shared included the following:

1) Have the right intentions

By choosing this career path, you are accepting the fact that this involves lifelong learning and a big chunk of your time. If you chose medicine just for the money or recognition, you won’t last long. These rewards are merely temporary and should not determine your perseverance. If your aim is to help people, be mindful that your career should not supersede your responsibilities to family.

2) Start networking

As the people you meet along the way will be your future employers, colleagues and superiors. It would be of great benefit to establish good rapport even before you enter the working world. Also mentioned was how building professional connections do not equal to apple-polishing and how we should generally be proficient despite gaining favors or promotions. Dr Afida further suggested finding friends outside the medical field to help broaden our perspectives.

3) Learn to accept & adapt

More often than not, life will not turn out the way we want it to. In the doctor’s words,

“Life can change, priorities will shift, but make plans, and be open to grow!”

So expect the unexpected and cherish what life offers us. There is more to it than becoming a specialist (if you are still keen on becoming a doctor). Explore your options: If you prefer teaching then become a teaching doctor, or if you are interested in policy making, then get involved with the Ministry of Health. There are many avenues to contribute in the health industry which tallies with your strengths and skills.

4) Don’t kill yourself

Survive with a smile. Surround yourself with positive people and don’t take everything so seriously most of the time. Learn to laugh at yourself and make time for hobbies. Remember, you need to be alive if you want to graduate. Even though this may sound amusing, cases of suicide and occurrence of suicidal thoughts frequently plague medical students when they experience their toughest moments. Reach out for help when you need it and appreciate your small successes like getting out of the bed during cold, dark mornings. Dr Afida herself loss 4 friends by the end of med school and she constantly reminds us to always have a close spiritual bond with God as well as building a strong support system of family and friends to face the hurdles along this road.

She also gave us tips on studying but I reckon most of you already know them (study in groups, manage time wisely, etc.). I won’t say they’re not as valuable as the points I’ve mentioned so far, but I would rather focus on matters that I exclusively received from this talk.

Session 2: Choosing Your Career Pathways: What & How by Dr Rafidah Abdullah (Consultant Physician & Nephrologist and Head of Department of Medicine, Hospital Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (HOSHAS), Pahang; Vice President of MedTweetMy)

Dr Rafidah happens to be one of those influential personalities that I absolutely adore. Apart from her stellar reputation as a doctor, I am also inspired by her zest for life and long list of sporting achievements; 15x marathoner, 2x ultramarathoner, mountain climber and hiker. It seems only fitting that she shares her view on advancing in our careers as she is also affiliated with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia.

Here’s a diagram to make it easier:-

Career pathway of a doctor in Malaysia
I won’t really explain the gist of each posting or step in the pathway since I myself am not really accustomed to any of it (being just a 2nd year medical student and all…) but I’ll leave you with a link to a very informative blog on Malaysia’s Healthcare System and the details of housemanship, life as a medical officer etc.

For Future Doctors: Housemanship, Medical Officer and Postgraduate Training (Part 1)

For Future Doctors: Housemanship, Medical Officer and Postgraduate Training (Part 1) I received more than 10 000…

Session 3: Medics & Humanitarian Role by Dr Burhanudin Busu (Orthopaedic and Trauma Fellow, King’s College Hospital London; MMUK Trustee)

As a an accomplished surgeon, Dr Burhanudin provided insight into the surgical career pathway (which I’ve summed up in another diagram) and proceeded to give us a glimpse of how we can play a bigger part in this world as doctors. An advocate of volunteerism and proactivity, Dr Burhan upholds his principle of gratifying opportunities by giving back to society through his participation in MERCY Malaysia UK.

Surgical career pathway in Malaysia
Apart from the introduction to Mercy Malaysia from its humble beginnings to the now internationally recognised movement it has become, Dr Burhanudin shared his most memorable moments in the missions he partook namely in Afghanistan, Quetta and Chaman, Pakistan. Currently he is involved in a project to provide medical relief in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

To donate, support and receive updates on the progress of this campaign, do visit MMUK’s FB page

MERCY Malaysia UK – Photos | Facebook

MERCY Malaysia UK, London, United Kingdom. 980 likes · 4 talking about this. MMUK is the UK chapter of leading…

All in all, I would say that this program has helped me understand more clearly the part and parcel of a doctor’s career and laid down a guideline for me to plan my future (although we know by now that we can plan, but ultimately it depends on God’s decree). I hope this post would help aspiring doctors-to-be to be more proactive in their undertakings. May we all be eased and graduate on time. Ameen.

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