Surviving Housemanship in Malaysia with Plan B

Surviving Housemanship in Malaysia with plan B – Five tips for Making the Most of the Housemanship Experience

As a house officer, I knew very little about the medical world that existed outside the hospital walls. Nor was I familiar with doctors transitioning to non-medical careers. I only had one plan, which was surviving housemanship in Malaysia and then to specialize and then sub-specialize. I call this my plan A.

Plan A is the default path, and for some is carved out of interest. Others choose their plan A for its availability or convenience. Sometimes, however, plan A flounders and fails. Life happens – family-related events, illnesses, personal difficulties, workplace factors and so forth. These may shake the foundations of plan A.

While we adjust, adapt, and try to weather these little storms, some may find plan A too difficult to sustain. Hence, we start looking for plan B. Do you have a plan B?

Just like all important decisions in life, I would argue that it’s wise to always have an alternative in mind. Furthermore, it’s important to prepare your plan B and lay down concrete plans and actions.

Preparation for plan B can start as early as medical school, but is especially crucial during your housemanship years. In this article I will try to lay out ways to prepare your Plan B to surviving housemanship in Malaysia and making the most of it. 

1. Be a scribe

When transitioning to a new career, employers will be interested in the overall picture of an individual, rather than just their previous clinical service. Keep detailed records of both early clinical experience and any non-clinical or extra-curricular activities. These records should be stored physically and digitally in a secure location, such as your email account or in cloud storage.

You’ll never know when your experiences will come in handy in the future. Examples include volunteerism, mentoring or leadership roles at work, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. The early clinical years as a house officer can be exhausting but taking time to document your activities go a long way.

Here’s a list of important things to store:

1.Employment related documents such as the offer letter from SPA, confirmation of service letter and promotion or salary-related letters. 
If you intend to resign from Ministry of Health, don’t forget to request a copy of your service book. documents come in handy especially if applying for another government job. Don’t forget your pre-work orientation (PTM) 
2. House officer logbooks.
This can be obtained from the MMC for a fee and details your house officer rotations and dates. This will also come in handy when applying for overseas clinical work.
3. Certificate of experience 
This can be obtained from the MMC for a fee and details your house officer rotations and dates. This will also come in handy when applying for overseas clinical work.

4. Certificates for events organised or participated in 
Leadership, supervision, and mentoring are huge plus points to display when transitioning into a new role. If you don’t get a certificate for your contribution, keep a copy of the event book, or meeting minutes, or even just a leader rota. 

2. Research and strategize

Almost everything you need to know about your alternative career can be obtained online. For example, if you’re planning to migrate to another country to pursue clinical work, make sure you get in touch with medical migration agencies and read through the guidelines on their medical council websites. Most, if not all foreign medical councils have clear, detailed pathways for internationals. Understanding their requirements is essential to a smooth application later on. Certain requirements such as an English Language exam, security vetting and so forth demand prior planning. If an alternative career requires or prioritizes certain certification, go ahead and prepare for it early. Don’t be afraid to take the unknown path, it’s only setting you up to become a pioneer! 

3. Networking and more networking…

Of course, being a pioneer isn’t for everyone. Most alternative career paths are already inhabited by doctors who have transitioned before you. This is where networking is essential. From the day you enter medical school, your classmates, seniors and juniors, and even your lecturers are a part of your network. Maintain your connections and build new ones as you progress to start work in the hospitals.

Leveraging social media and the internet is a smart move. For example, there are social media groups for doctors looking to migrate or  sitting for certain exams. There are online webinars which discuss various fields to pivot to in depth.

Joining an association or society is a great way to meet like-minded people. A doctor friend of mine was introduced to his new career by a friend he met at his weekend motorbike club!

For medical officers who are curious about clinical practice in the private sector, use your off days and free time to explore locum opportunities or take up courses that would give you the edge over other doctors.

The most important thing is to keep an open mind, reach out to others, and continually learn what other pathways have to offer. 

Network at Disruptive Doctors’ annual Healthcare Revolution Conference & Exhibition where you can speak to other doctors who have made the change.

4. Prepare your CV

A CV is an excellent way to keep a record of all your activities, achievements, and experiences. It is also the main document that your prospective employer will refer to before and during your interview. A CV could be modified to cater for a specific job that you’re applying for in the future. You can learn about how to build up your CV here.

Distinguishing yourself from others can often be a difficult concept for young doctors, especially those within a system which promotes homogeneity and subservience. Always remember that you’re trying to convince your future employer of what you’re bringing to the table and why you stand out from among the other candidates. 

5. Investing in yourself

Aside from investing in external examinations or certification, consider investing in courses that will reskill and upskill you for your Plan B. Invest time in building relationships that can grow into lifetime networks.

The early clinical years are taxing with little time left for leisure and rest. And investing in non-clinical activities may seem an impossible and tiring feat, nevertheless, they are also mentally and emotionally rewarding. At the end of the day, you’ll have develop good habits, a better attitude, and something more to show for it.  

Join us at our annual Healthcare Revolution Conference & Exhibition (HealthRev) where we have a plethora of topics for addressing all your clinical/non-clinical questions and opportunities! Can’t wait? Check out our upcoming workshops and courses at Disruptive Doctors Academy also!

Be part of the Disruptive Doctors Community by getting your premium membership to get full access to all our articles and services like our career coaching, opportunities to connect with like-minded doctors, and discounts on all our workshops and events! Be part of the movement and let’s disrupt health together!

Wanting to explore the options you have out there? Do download Dr Selina’s Switching Careers for Doctors eBook here to get you started on your journey and don’t forget to catch our podcast and videos on our Spotify and YouTube channel

Check out other articles: