Doctor Finds Success Through His Goal of Serving Patients Beyond the Hospital

Dr Khairul Faizi Khalid has been the Operations Manager for Asia Pacific at Hematogenix, a global central laboratory for oncology clinical research for the past four years. He is also the Co-Founder and Medical Director at Remedi Innovations which is a technology startup that has been connecting patients’ medical records innovatively through their cloud-based solutions.

He loved medicine and worked in the emergency room constantly seeing patients in their worst state. After a while, Dr Khairul decided he wanted to continue serving patients but not while they were at their worst but instead, at their best. He wanted to prevent patients from falling ill and to continue keeping them healthy.  He felt a very strong urge  that he could accomplish this transition from sick care to health-care beyond the four walls of the hospital.

Dr Khairul credits his success to staying true to his objective that there are other ways to contribute to patients outside the four walls of the hospital.

So, 2011 to 2012 became significant years in his life where he tried new things. This included sending out his CVs to pharma companies as well as to recruiters. To succeed in his aim, he researched the trends of international pharmaceutical companies. A recruiter connected with him about an opening for the position of Medical Scientific Liaison (MSL) at AstraZeneca and the rest was history. “When opportunity comes knocking at your door, you don’t want to let it pass,” said Dr. Khairul.

Accomplishing His Goals for Personal Growth and Progress While Serving Patients Outside of the Hospital

Dr. Khairul Faizi’s goals for leaving clinical medicine were not merely limited to benefiting patients outside of the hospital. He also wanted to experience personal growth and personal progress. He began accomplishing this when he joined AstraZeneca where his medical training helped him to scrutinize medicine before it reached the clinics. As an MSL, he investigated clinical data, trials, and preclinical data, caught up on reading the research and prepared himself appropriately to speak to clinicians on subjects such as the preeminence of the new generation of medications etc. 

“When opportunity comes knocking at your door, you don’t want to let it pass.”

He also wanted to leave his mark in the field. As a cardiovascular MSL for AstraZeneca, he spearheaded a program called the ACS Referral Network, a meeting to discuss a common protocol to be used to send patient referrals from the district to tertiary centers using the latest guidelines and latest medicines. This ACS Referral Network, which is being adopted in the Klang Valley and has been adopted by the National Heart Association of Malaysia is a brainchild of Dr. Khairul.

From AstraZeneca, Dr Khairul moved to Boehringer and then Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), a Ministry of Health government-linked company before working at Hematogenix. At Hematogenix, he oversees business development and operations while still interacting with his scientific peers and colleagues on a day-to-day basis.

The opportunity to work at Hematogenix came about during his tenure at CRM.  At CRM, as the business head he had together with CRM CEO mapped and rolled out five key pillars so that Malaysia has global advantages for clinical trials to be conducted in the country. One of the pillars involved having is a central laboratory for clinical trials. In searching for a few companies to invest in Malaysia for this purpose, they found Hematogenix walking through their doors.

“When opportunity comes knocking, don’t turn around and say, ‘next time’. I took up the project as an agency member of the Ministry of Health. As CRM is a government-linked company, we had access to the Minister of Health, the Director General of Health, and the Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Health,” noted Dr. Khairul.

“There were some doubts and second guessing about why I left clinical medicine when I could have been at the top of my game at the hospital but the critical thing I learned is not to look back.”

“I was hand-holding Hematogenix to get approval for the import license, the bio-specimens, and to ensure that the system on the ground is up and running.  At the end of one-year when the company was all set to go, the CEO and President of the company offered me the position as the first employee here in Malaysia and the Asia Pacific,” he added.

Today Hematogenix has grown to 50 personnel and hires Masters and Phd holders. They are studying cancer patients involving blood, bone marrow, or tissue research and testing them for biomarkers. Many more projects are in the developmental phase.

Dr Khairul credits his success to staying true to his objective that there are other ways to contribute to patients outside of the four walls of the hospital.

Reasons Behind His Successful Career Transition

Strong family support and a good mentor were reasons for his successful career transition. When he was making the huge leap from his comfort zone in the hospital to the corporate world of the pharma industry, his wife stood by him and supported him.

When he landed on the corporate side, he was fortunate to have had a good supervisor and mentor. His boss Dr Jayanti waited six months for Dr Khairul to get things sorted out before moving out of the government sector. She was also instrumental in helping him tread the corporate sector.  A steep learning curve is required for the corporate sector and Dr Khairul had to transition from nonstop patient interactions to sitting in front of a laptop and attending teleconferences and emails. As an MSL, he had to discuss fundamental matters with fellow colleagues and the latest updates in clinical trials guidelines which were vastly different from his previous job.

“There were some doubts and second-guessing about why I left clinical medicine when I could have been at the top of my game at the hospital but the critical thing I learned is not to look back.” said Dr Khairul.  He added that doctors transitioning out of clinical medicine will experience doubts, but family support and a good mentor will help through these struggles.

Moving Out of Clinical Medicine: Some Challenges

One of the main challenges Dr Khairul faced was a steep learning curve where the focus changed from patient care to doing research and providing scientific evidence to be put forward to the market. “In clinical trials, you have Phase 1 and Phase 2, and some might not even see the light of day. You really need to have grit in pursuing your own career and personal growth. If you were doing the same thing for a clinical masters, you’ll get a Masters degree at the end of the day. But at pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, you’ll experience career progress. So, this involves a steep learning curve, reset, and relearning multiple times over.” he added.

“Coming back to the original reason for leaving clinical medicine, I am [now] able to contribute back to patients outside the four walls of the hospital. Rather than settling for one patient at a time, I’m covering as many patients as possible through my work.”

In addition, he has experienced some stigma during the times he has had to interact with fellow doctors who are still in clinical medicine. He points out that these days, the stigma is very much toned down but when Dr Khairul first transitioned out of clinical medicine, the stigma was quite unbearable.

The Reason for Remedi Innovations

Remedi Innovations was a pet project of Dr Khairul that began in 2012. While serving in an electronic-based hospital in Alor Setar, he was also involved in servicing some neighboring government clinics. At times, the neighboring clinics would call the main hospital regarding an emergency case. They wanted doctors to look at the patients’ data to assess the patient’s condition.

There was a need to connect the medical records of patients, so the data is available to the doctor viewing them. So, Dr. Khairul contacted his college IT friends and things began to get underway. By 2017, fully functioning clinic management solutions were made available to GP clinics and government clinics. Today Remedi Innovations is an 11-person strong business organization with about 120 clinics nationwide using their cloud-based solutions. They have a presence in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines and are trying to make inroads in the U.S.

So, Dr Khairul is really juggling two jobs at Hematogenix and Remedi Innovations. According to him, “It’s all about making time. I choose to work on my projects on the weekends. It’s a personal choice.”

Advice to Young Doctors

  1. If doctors choose to transition out of clinical medicine to other fields, they need to ensure that they have done sufficient research on these fields.

2. Once a decision has been made and the doctor has delved into a particular industry, they need to have the grit to push through to see their goals materialize. Doubts might plague them, but they ought not to lose focus as that is a recipe for disaster.

“When opportunity comes knocking, don’t turn around and say, “next time.”

“Research well; once you’re in, have the grit to finish what you started, and the opportunities will come. Each opportunity that you have outside clinical medicine is an opportunity for you to learn,” noted Dr. Khairul.

He ended the interview by stating “Coming back to the original reason for leaving clinical medicine, I am [now] able to contribute back to patients outside the four walls of the hospital. Rather than settling for one patient at a time, I’m covering as many patients as possible through my work.”

It certainly looks like his goal of serving patients outside of the hospital has invariably led to Dr Khairul’s career growth and career progress in amazing ways!

Don’t forget to catch Dr. Khairul Faizi Khalid’s MFM podcast interview on our Spotify and YouTube channel.

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To find out more about non-clinical jobs for doctors in Malaysia check out our job vacancy and find inspiration from medical doctors who’ve made a career change in our case studies.

If you’re thinking of a career transition, do download Dr Selina’s Switching Careers for Doctors eBook here to get you started on your journey.

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