Sunday, June 30, 2013

The hurdle to enter medical school

Honestly, the thought of becoming a doctor did not click to me until i was doing my A Level. Previously, i had many ambitions such as becoming a radio dee-jay, an accountant, a teacher and also imagining myself as an executive doing clerical work in a high rise building overseeing the city. Blame it on the media!

However, being typical Asian parents, my mom and dad told me to choose a professional line such as lawyer, doctor or engineer. At the end of it, i was stuck between being an engineer or a doctor. I remember meeting up with my dad's friend who was an engineering lecturer and my engineer aunty for words of advice. Somehow, they tried to make me to choose the latter for various reasons.

At the same time, I was really grateful the fact that I did my A Level in an international school which had a special department handling higher education matters. Since medical applicants had to apply to UK earlier than other fields, we were preparing for our applications even before I have finished my Year 11 (lower Six form). We had to come out with a personal statement as well as doing attachments in hospital.

I still remember how I had difficulty to write an essay on why would I want to be a doctor. The typical answer; "to help people" was no longer accepted. They demanded me to read more regarding the profession and perhaps to include some experiences that I observed during my hospital attachment and related it to scientific facts. At one point I almost gave up since the tutor kept on making me to alter my essay. She said that my essay did not show strong reasons and that I lack of enthusiasm in it.

I also had to undergo a mock interview session organised by my tutors in order to prepare beforehand. We were given with a thick booklet on the common questions that interviewers would usually ask and that we had to practice answering confidently. It was not easy guys!

I remember that it was during my Surgical elective in 2010 in Brunei General Hospital that I made up my mind about it. I was shadowing a Surgical medical officer and I noticed that his life was always on the move. One day, he would be doing ward rounds, then the next he would be going into the OTs then later on, he would be doing clinics. So i thought to myself that probably I would enjoy being on the move too and that I did not have to be stuck at my work desk the whole day. Furthermore, hospital is also a fully air-conditioned place too.

I also did weekly attachment at a private GP for about 3 months just to expose myself with the world. Here I met with a great private GP who kept on discouraging me from day 1!! He told me how his lady doctor friends ended up getting married at later age due to commitments, and that his non-doctor friends earn way much more than him and that our medical students life would be miserable due to long hours and numerous exams. He even mentioned that in the next coming decades, Doctor's lifes will be competitive and the doctors will be oversupplied. Again, at some point i did feel like giving up on the profession.

However, by the end of it I took his words as a challenge to make me pursuit the life. So I do not actually have a real reason on why I do want to be a doctor specifically. I guess all the experiences that I have gained throughout attachments have made me more comfortable with the life and made me to go forward. Mind you guys, I did all the attachments before i even entered the medical school. I had not even completed my A level yet at that time. Hence, I was well aware of what I was putting myself into such as long working hours, competitive student's life, sacrifices that I have to make with my family and friends.

Hence, to all the aspired young doctors to be, I would really encourage you to expose yourself with the medical career way before you enter medical school. Start as early as possible, attach yourself to a private GP during your weekends. Sacrifice your holidays by doing attachment at the hospitals. I was really glad of doing it beforehand since it gives u the advantage compared to other applicants. The interviewers will definitely think that you are committed and hence, can see the passion that you have.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Keputusan Ujian Bahasa Melayu


I finally received the slip. Take a look at the date. It was back in May and I only got this slip in February this year! This calls for a celebration!! HAHAHA

My 2 cents to the soon-to-be Houseman

here is a piece of useful advice to my soon-to-be-junior doctors on your first few days of life.

You might think that on your very first day there will be patients who collapse in front you and that you have to treat them and putting their lives in your hands. Or perhaps, you are imagining that you will be pushing the patients into the operating theatre like those that you always see in the TV. Well, hold your thoughts right there and let me bring you back to the Mother Earth.

Here is a brief recap on what will happen on your first day. (im not sure whether this will be the same situations in other hospitals)

By 8am, make your way to the administration office and introduce yourself as a 1st day houseman. There will be a person who is incharged of houseman and he/she will hand out endless of forms to be filled up. It will be useful to bring all the documents along (i.e bank account slip, certificates, birth certificates, MMC letter, SPA letter etc). By the time you finish this alongside with the orientation of the hospital, it will be almost midday.

Then you will be informed on which lucky posting you will start with. So, introduce yourself to the HOD as well as the Sister incharged of the respective wards. It will also be very polite to introduce yourself to the nurses, MOs and HOs of that department that you happen to bump into. I was quite lucky the fact that I was asked to start my day the next day. Hence, i had the time to unpack and complete other unfinished forms for the remaining half of the day.

Once you have officially started, the Sister or your colleagues will start to orientate on the ward, the system and the people that you need to make good friends with. (This includes the PPK, JM Nurse and sometimes including the cleaners!). You will also need to learn how to fill up the forms, where to get the equipments and the numbers to dial for tracing lab results. Then you will realise there are tonnes of forms to fill up for everything i.e ordering blood, referrals to other departments like physio/dietitian/social worker/booking ambulance, ordering radiographs  prescribing medications. These are the skills that are NEVER thought in the medical school. I personally felt that all these tedious stuffs are actually time consuming. Honestly, I also did not have any clue on how to give paracetamol for the patient. Noone taught that we were supposed to write Tab PCM 1g QID in that yellow prescription sheet.

Then you might be taught on how to write your very first own history clerking and with physical examinations. I was quite relieved the fact that I was taught in a local hospital setting and hence, I was already familiar with the short forms and the styles. It made my whole adaptation process much easier compared to those who were trained overseas. I noticed that some of my colleagues who graduated from Russia for instance write in sentences instead of point forms for history taking. I always tell that those who are graduated from non-local unis might have to work 2 times harder than those trained locally.

One thing that you realise later on is that you need to be super fast with your work. I remember i used to take up to 1 hour just to complete the history and writing the physical findings on that paper and I had not even started with the management and doing procedures such as inserting branula, doing VE and taking blood. The nurses will then start to nag and you will feel even more pressured when the patient starts to complain. It was quite unfortunate that I started in the labour room which required you to complete managing a patient within an hour! So what I did was I timed myself and tried to be faster with each patient. It also helped the fact that I had a senior who kept on pressuring me to be speed up.

On the other hand, since you are a newbie, you will definitely not be incharged of complex and challenging tasks. The most that you will go on your first day is perhaps setting branula or taking blood. Be prepared to feel like shit when you cannot even get that bulging vein and you start to mess up the room with the patient's blood.

Otherwise, let me tell you this.

First impression really matters. ALWAYS respect your seniors regardless whether they are housemen, staff nurses or even JMs. Accept their criticism and be humble. Though you might be the flying colours students with a CGPA of 4.0, always instill that you know nothing and need to be guided. You might think some things are done inappropriately and you might disagree with some decisions but it is best to just be the observer for now. Do not argue with them cause once you show that negative attitude, trust me your hell starts right away.

Well, I've written quite a bunch there but those are things that are never mentioned in the thick medical textbooks. I have many more to write but it is already late and i am doing oncall tomorrow. Just pray that I have the energy to write in again soon Or else, you might need to wait months before my next entry! Until then, the photos below are taken during my winter trip to Paris last January!

 The Eiffel Tower
 The Lourve
The famous macarons Pierre Hermes

Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 January 2013

First of all, i want to wish the readers out there a happy 2013! 2ndly, Happy 25th Birthday to me today!! hahaha

Well, who would have thought, I have survived my 1st year of housemanship. Cheers to another year of hard work. Time really flies by. I was just a new 1st poster and here I am with a few weeks more to end my 4th posting.

Alhamdulillah, God has been great to me. Till date, I am still standing strong. I have been a group leader in almost of the postings (except for medical) and my bosses have been treating me well. I have never even took one emergency leave. Though there were times which i felt super exhausted, my determination has not let me down.

On the brighter side, I love the feeling of getting your own income and financially not depending on your parents. I have travelled to a few cities in the Borneo and able to treat my family either for a great dinner or some surprise birthday gifts.

I hope God will still continue to shower me with His blessings. I am forever grateful for the life i am living in and i hope i can be a useful and productive tool of His to service for the mankind.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Why did i create this blog?

It started while i was preparing for my final Pro Exam for my medical course. I was the kind of student who preferred to study through powerpoints and blognotes. Furthermore, I did not like to pen my notes down and memorising the facts. Hence, i use blog as an alternative.

Following that, before i started my housemanship, i was in a dilemma over which hospital to choose for as my ground training of 2 years. There were not many references that i could refer to especially of that relating to Miri Hospital. So i thought it might be useful to write and share my journey with others as a houseman as well as keeping it is as my medical notes. .

Why did i choose my current hospital for my training?

There are some seniors of mine who are doing the HOship in East Malaysia and the reviews were encouraging and welcoming. Furthermore, since i was raised in Brunei, Miri was the only town that i was comfortable with. I also chose Miri in order to run away from the KL city which I know can be a distraction for me. (HINT : SHOPPING!).

No SPM Malay? Worry not!

I spent my primary and secondary education back in Brunei Darussalam. While other local Malaysians were supposed to sit for UPSR, PMR and SPM, i sat for PCE, PMB and GCE OLevel instead. This led to a problem for me of not having SPM Malay. Even though i sat for Bahasa Melayu paper in my GCE O Level and got a Distinction 2 for it and sat for Bahasa Kebangsaan papers during my medical school, they were still not adequate and not acceptable as a substitute for the Malay paper. I was told that without it, problems can arise especially if you plan to stay in the government. Your confirmation of service with the government can be delayed and hence, leading to late promotions. 

I have heard of some who did the June SPM Malay paper as a private candidate and some house officers even  attended tuition classes a few weeks prior to the date. I could not imagine how ridiculous it is for us to be learning all those especially after an exhausting work. However, the good news is that your target mark will only be a PASS. 

So, upon starting work in my current hospital as a house officer, i managed to meet up with the admin as well as the Hospital Director regarding this. They were also quite clueless on the matter but how relieved I was upon finding out that there is an alternative paper that can be done! I am very thankful for the hospital administration team for this! 

So earlier this month, 6 of the house officers from Miri Hospital flew all the way to Kuching to sit for Peperiksaan Bahasa Melayu Khas. The good thing was that this was considered as an official trip and hence, you can claim for the expenses (exclusive of shopping of course!). We only stayed there overnight and the exam was done in JPA building. 

The exam consists of 2 sections; written and oral. If you are already comfortable speaking in Malay than you should not worry too much about it. In my opinion, the difficulty level is as that of Primary 6 syllabus and they are all of MCQ or short answer questions. (Thank God for no essay this time!) I really hope these papers can really compensate for the SPM Malay and hence, putting a closure for this issue. 

I hope some people out there with the same prolems will find this post useful. I know not many really know about this matter and not many resources can be found online. Feel free to ask for more if in doubts!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Something to ponder about

Sent my patient for a chest Xray. I call it a right lower lobe HANDneumonia!