Things for Doctors to Consider Before #ExitKKM

Should I stay or should I go? Exiting KKM (the Malaysian Ministry of Health) is a tough decision to make as many junior contract doctors will tell you these days. Moderate amount of hardship is to be expected in medicine, but if you’re no longer able to justify the hardship to yourself and are thinking of resigning, know that you’re not alone and that these are four important things for doctors to consider before #exitKKM :

Your state of mind

Consider the possibility that your desire to quit may be due to burnout or depression. Like the Snicker’s tagline “You are not you when you are hungry”, you’re not you when you’re running on an empty tank; you’re likely to be too tired or distracted to carefully consider your options.

Burnout is defined by three components: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a decreased sense of accomplishment. If left unchecked, chronic burnout could lead to depression. You may want to seek professional help or reach out to someone you trust if you’re struggling with depression.

The stigma of mental struggles is especially greater for doctors as the nature of our work and the workplace culture runs on the notion that a certain amount of suffering makes you a better doctor.

It seems to me that doctors may probably be the most in need of mental health services because like it or not, we are still humans with human needs and our work expects us to be machines. Just as we send our cars for regular servicing, doctors need to consider therapy as a form of servicing our brains just so we can keep on functioning at work .

A breakdown often signals that a doctor needs to consider before #exitKKM but it’s not advisable to make rash decisions during this period. Consider switching departments, going for psych leave or unpaid leave before quitting. Give yourself time to get yourself together, consider all your options and plan ahead as #ExitKKM closes some doors permanently.

Four things to consider before eixitng KKM #ExitKKM

What you can offer

Competition is tough nowadays and a medical degree does not carry much value outside of clinical medicine. If you resign prior to obtaining your full MMC number and do not have an Annual Practicing Certificate (APC), you will not be able to practice medicine in Malaysia.

And if you resign prior to completing your two-year compulsory service, you may run into trouble when renewing your APC. Even then, there will be with many other junior doctors who have resigned in the marketplace. So, what are you offering that’ll get you a seat at the table?

Before resigning, survey your options. Go for a few job interviews to test the waters, to get more information about your preferred job and to hone your interview skills. It is vital that you’re able to acknowledge and articulate your strengths and weaknesses. This is a lead for you to choose a career and workplace that best suits you.  

Having a good sense of yourself implies being in touch with your values and knowing your limits and is perhaps the most important criterion for job hunting success. It will also give you a sense of confidence and direction outside of the KKM. 

Unless you’re absolutely certain that clinical medicine is not for you, then it is advisable to leave KKM but then too, only after completing your compulsory service. Remember that your clinical skills and a valid APC will be your bargaining tool and something to fall back on should your dream career outside of clinical medicine not materialize for whatever reason.

You can explore your career options at Disruptive Doctors’ Annual Healthcare Revolution Conference & Exhibition for doctors and connect with other doctors who have made the career switch.

Your finances

Many doctors have not received any financial education and probably do not have more than one source of income, but this has to change if you’re planning to resign. It is best to have at least six months’ worth of savings to cover your monthly expenses. There are scammers out there and there are doctors who have not been paid in months. So, always have an emergency fund on standby to tide you through this transition period.

It is especially important to take note of your debts and fixed expenses, cut costs where you can, learn to live on a budget, and invest. There are many personal finance websites, books, and free online courses, so do check them out.

Your support system

Thinking about your future outside of KKM may induce anxiety as the world outside of the four walls of the hospital seem foreign and  intimidating, but a good support system makes all the difference. This support may come from family or friends, a spouse, or a significant other. A good support system will give you the confidence to move forward with your goals, and most importantly, you’ll know you’ll not starve should a job not be forth coming.

Your time outside of KKM is a good one to reconnect with old friends and engage in networking. Networking is a good means of knowing about potential job openings. A supportive friend/person may even help identify your strengths and nudge you in the right direction. However, in the event that you’re not able to find the support you need for this difficult period of transition, we have a community here at Disruptive Doctors to guide you.

In the opening line of her podcast, Super Soul, Oprah Winfrey says “the most valuable gift you can give yourself is time”, and if there’s one piece of advice I would impart,  it is this – Making the decision to quit KKM may be one of the most self-respecting thing you will ever have done in your adult life, but it is not a journey without rejection, anxiety, and self-doubt. Why not give yourself time and permission to choose the kind of life you want to lead?

You can find more career options for doctors leaving medicine here.

If you are thinking about leaving KKM, 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

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