Saturday, May 23, 2009

Malaysia vs Singapore - a tough decision made...

I guess I had too much on my mind lately… You know, after graduating, you are to step into the working world, a new phase of life. And there are options, many options. It is about time to plan our future, to decide where we stand 10 years from now. What decisions we make today, decides tomorrow. And being a Libran, decisions are what I feared most. And therefore, I had put a lot of thoughts into this.

Let’s see, there are two sides of the coin, at this moment. One side offers better working conditions, more advanced technology, better working hours (having only 1-2 oncalls per week), and halved the housemanship period (one year only). More importantly, it promised better opportunities for postgraduate programs (postgraduate training after housemanship itself!), educational funds and sponsorships. As a bonus, you get better salary and higher increments. It is almost like a dream come true.

On the other side of the coin, you have the hectic working conditions, work politics, every-other-day-calls (EOD) pushing a straight 36hours call and then given the night off and expected to report back the next day for another 36 hours call. On top of that, the doubled housemanship period (2 years), sleepless nights, heavy workloads, and your superior pushing you beyond your limits. Opportunities for post-graduate programs, from what I gathered, was somewhat slim, especially if you plan to opt a surgical field. The competitions are great, too many demands, yet too little supply. And the salary? Oh boy, you would certainly be surprised if I were to show you our starting salary… and with only an increment on RM100 yearly… so, I don’t think anyone would want to opt to be a chronic MO, now to think of it…

Funny, despite all that and more, I turned down the offer to work in Singapore.

A friend of mine once said, there is no ending to this argument, this debate. Either way, they had their pros and cons. In the end, you just have to close your eyes, shut your mind, search deep within you and follow your heart.

So, there I am, back at the beginning. I came back to the big question, why am I here? Why did I take this path? Why did I study Medicine in the first place? Knowing that this is probably one of the most challenging professions on Earth! One that requires sacrifices, choices… yet here I am…

-To make a difference-

Why else take up medicine if not to one day treat you family, friends and loved ones?

After a year of consideration, and cracking my mind for the past whole month, I have decided… Yet, yesterday, Su Yin and my cousin asked me again, why did I rejected the offer to Singapore… and today, MK asked. In fact, everyday, people had been asking… and news on the papers has been disappointing… news like this(1) and this(2).... it sometimes clouds my mind… perhaps I needed reassurance that I had made the right choice.

So, I needed to blog about this.

I want to constantly remind myself why I chose this path. I needed to remind myself, constantly.


Something I strongly held on to. I have hopes that the Malaysian Health System can be improved. Hopes that there are still many doors opened for us, opportunities for us to specialize in our desired post-graduate field. Hopes that after 10 years, when I looked back, I would be glad I made this decision.

Sometimes, it strike my mind, that if I were to take the greener road, the comfortable path, I would probably be away for a solid 10 years. It’s like uprooting yourself, starting a fresh. And there is a fat chance that one may not come back to the country. My friends thought that I think too far ahead. And so, I was thinking, if all our good doctors were to leave our country, despite the lack-of-doctor-crisis, who else is there to treat our loved ones? The vicious cycle continues…

Perhaps, it was because I was trained locally, I felt that I owed it to the country, that I should serve our people… Did I sound almost too patriotic? Haha! Very unlike-shinyin, ei?

Besides, my Professor, Prof Shahrir, once said, 'Don't go, the Singaporeans are just using you...'. Perhaps, he was right. Singaporeans are smart people, they would not do a losing business.

In fact, during the interview with Dr Liam, the Singaporean Recruitment team, I popped out the question, 'Why employ us?', despite knowing very well the answer, perhaps i needed reassurance.
He answered, 'because we are building 2 new hospitals, and we do not have enough doctors to sustain the hospitals'.
'2 new hospitals?'
'Yup, we plan to make Singapore the one-stop Medical Centre'
'What about your local students?'
'We had opened new medical schools, but it would take another 5 years before they graduate and practice'.

So, the fact hits hard.

1. The Singaporeans wants to build new hospitals to earn money
2. They did not have enough resources
3. They needed us

So really, to think about it, the decision is all up to us. Do you want to help them? and if you noticed close enough, we were needed merely to fill in the gap.

My dad had this interesting illustration for this... He said that our country nurtured us from young, right from the seeds, with patience, with love, and when we start bearing fruits, the Singapore government added some fertilizer, promised a better future, and start plucking us...

It would be nice though, if our country itself can provide us, that better future. I think most of the people who left the country, was doing it against their heart. They were disappointed, and perhaps lacked the sense of security... the reassurance...

So maybe today, I felt that I loved my country, I loved my people, I loved my family, I loved my friends, I loved them too much to leave… I loved the life here. The people. (and the food, of course!)

And I hope

Yes, I do

I hope that, I will be loved in returned.

Hope, faith and love can take a person very far indeed...

Like Robert Frost once said, I took the road less travelled by, and that had made all the difference!

p/s: i'll be leaving for my BTN and induction course tomorrow at Pontian, Johor & Port Dickson respectively... will keep you all updated whenever possible ^^


  1. Shin Yin, i fully supported your decision... Stay here, serve the people, serve the country.... we need u so much! U still owe them...

  2. well, i guess i'll do the same thing if it was me. *salute*

    This is a personal choice afterall. Only we ourselves know best.

    All the best!!:P

  3. Hi Shinyin

    I think you're a clever girl & trust in your own decision :D

  4. shinyin, congrats!! Finally,gonna work after so many yrs of studying :)I'm still waiting patiently for my time to come..hehe.
    well, about ur decision to work locally, very thoughtful of you. if only more ppl were to think like you, surely the Msian healthcare will improve!
    all the best in btn and induksi.
    be open minded at btn ya ;)

  5. Hey gal...

    Whatever decision you have made, you have my support as a friend. And here's the most important tip: Never question your decision no matter what others have to say or what the future has to offer you... because life should be without regret. Each decision leads and shapes you to who you are.

  6. Dann Leong salutes you. There's always pros and cons in the decision made, you just need to look deep into your heart to see what answer within. As a Libran, sometimes decisions are hard to made. But once you have decided to take the path, walk the road, do not turn back. Make the best of everything that comes to you.

    Who knows if one day im admitted to hospital (touchwood), and you're the doctor in charge? LOL. Life's always full of wonder. After several years had past, you may suddenly realized that the choices you made years back, was indeed the rightful decision. Till then, take care and all the best... ^^

    From the other indecisive Libran,

  7. hotchick....with all d replies here..u can work in peace need think too much...yeah~ lets btn, induksi and HOship!!! uush~~!!!

  8. my dear senior...i respect u for ur decision!!!!!u r my idol!!!
    i 101% agree with u dat we shud stay and serve our own country and ppl as u r trained here with super low school fee in local uni...this is the time for us to balas the budi baik to those ppl who pay the tax and pay our school fee indirectly..haha....
    for those who decided to work in foreign countries...haiz....haiz....jz lead ur so call better life and get the higher salary la...happy stay forever in spore la...

  9. shinyin:

    all the best in BTN! hope you have a great time there! hahaha!

    i'll choose malaysia anytime =) tho many things can be improved...coz nothing beats home ;)

  10. maybe ppl will said u made an unwise decision, but u are the type of ppl a truely msian needs. salute u~ it's time to pay back to our beloved country

  11. More stressful to work in Singapore but you get to learn more. Here if they post you to the rural areas, you'll end up prescribing Paracetamol day in day out or calamine lotion to flea-infested natives - not much to experience and life can be soooo...boring!

  12. my fav article ever! SY!! thanks for helping me to really make up my mind too! at least u speak up something that really touch me. oke....i'm determined now too!
    let's make a difference!

  13. Tough call..ShinYin..

    So you will be posted to JB?

  14. U xiao ah!!!! 2 moro wan to go BTN liao still think so much HA ha

  15. shinyin!!i love this post!!!
    u said out all our voices!!!!!
    totally agree with u!!!
    let's make a difference!!let's work hard for a better future..
    p/s: u rajin rajin find the 1 who will knock jed out of stone!!:P

  16. wakakka.. good tat i dun even need to choose.. sometime less choices make life easier.

  17. shinyin, really inspired by ur article, ya before graduate, i oways think that we as malaysians should stay here serve our ppl, but once my decision oso shaken by what happen in our country, the system, the unhuman treatment in TWO-year housemanship, the low income n welfare compared oversea's...u know, last week my sis who is a teacher ask me, "we teacher have teacher's day, u guys got doctor's day?"...i speechless instantly

    but when think all of it, we work not merely for money or praise, although if we work here , our heart will surely get hurt, but we oways get hurt by ppl we loved, rite? haha

    lets us add oil together to prove that working in malaysia is so much worthy n to be proud of, we took the path less travlled, n we make a differnce:) cheers

  18. Your post made me think a lot about my future. I am currently a 3rd year medical student in Taiwan, and for the time being I have no thoughts about coming back. Perhaps the temptation to a more comfortable and luxurious life is more feasible here.
    However, your post reminded me what I promised myself from the very beginning - to make a difference (and the fact that when I went asking the Goddess of Mercy she specifically said I would be back in Malaysia, even if I don't like it).
    I wish you all the best for the future!

  19. good for you and good for malaysians, uplifting to read how you have come to this decision, well done ;) and all the best!!!

  20. singapore use u.
    malaysia also using u.
    but then again... follow ur heart...

    anyway choices are made, no turning back..

  21. Exceptionally well written and well thought off, Shinyin! All the best in your future endeavours.

    Like my dad always say,
    Never try never know...

    I am glad you listened to your heart. There is a calling in everyone of us and there is always more to life than just monetary wealth and prestige. You made a wise decision.

    Most importantly, you understand the other important values in life; compassion, love, charity, kindness, gratitude and for being responsible. You were thought well by your parents, knowing whats right and whats wrong. Placing priorities in your life; your family, your friends and your love ones.

    Kevin Wong

  22. congrats for choosing msia! your home country won't disappoint you, as long as there is hope in you for a better healthcare system in msia... MSIA BOLEH!

  23. MK, yes, we should stay... i hope i had made a wise decision... ^^
    wi, :)
    Yee Ming, glad to hear that from you... perhaps, sometimes, sometimes, there are things that are more important than yourself... we have so much more to learn...

    MRC, thanks :) i will have faith...


    cute little angel, no hurry, your time will come... until then, do spend some time to smell the flowers along the way... medical student's life is the best! enjoy it! celebrate it!! :)
    i'm so glad to have a friend like you ^^
    Dear Dann, the other indecisive Libran,
    you just spoke my heart!! it's very hard to make decisions, for me, especially... but like you said, life is full of wonders... we'll never know what might happen next ^^
    yup! we must all gambateh in our new job! me in Malacca, honey in Sibu and you in Taiping!!!

  24. Weiwen,
    glad to hear that patriotism in you!! but i don't blame those who left the country,.. i believed that they had their reasons as well... but we shall do our part, for your beloved country, our people... all the best in your final year ya!! JIA YOU!! medical student's life is the best! you have only one year left, gotta make the most out of it! enjoy!! ^^
    siang, thanks! i needed the luck! :)
    poh lin, YUP! nothing beats home~~ and i guess, being home itself is a blessing, happYness... i wished more and more people will realised how beautiful is our people and country... we should love our country... ^^
    sine nomine, thanks! :) i'm sure you would do the same... our country needs you too!
    dear arthur (aka STP),
    i beg to differ,.. the housemanship in Malaysia is anytime MORE stressful than in Singapore... as we have 20times the workload and 3 times more on-calls... and we get to learn much more as we have more patients, and we are allowed to perform more procedures.. while the housemen in Singapore do mainly clerical work, with only once on-call per week!

    and about being posted to rural areas, yup, perhaps it's less hectic than working in the hospital,.. but we need doctors at those rural areas too! we are trained to identify emergency, chronic and minor cases... and refer whenever necessary... sometimes, it can be very challenging to diagnose and manage these patients with limited facilities at the rural areas... this is when our history taking and physical examination (see, touch, smell, listen) skills are very important...

    therefore, i highly respect those doctors who are wiling to go to the rural areas to help this population of people... they need to be cared and loved too... and someone has to do the job... if everyone start passing the cake around, who will be left to tend to these people... sometimes, we need to make sacrifices too ^^
    i hope i managed to give you a better idea of the health system in our country ^^
    sus, glad you liked this article.. i'm just speaking my heart....
    YUP! let's make a difference together! ^^
    Kris, nope, i got posted to Malacca hospital... it's not my choice, but i'll go anyway,.. coz the hospital had shortage of doctors... someone got to do the job :)
    annoymous, haha!! think very long already... but now only blogged bout it... hehe... i'm a Libran ma... :P
    honey, YES! Let's make a difference!!!
    and i'll rajin rajin find the 1 who will knock jed out of stone... haha... God should sent me a sign... maybe i've just missed the person... how?
    bingwui, haha! you have positive thinking...
    we oways get hurt by ppl we loved?? hehe... really? i hope we had all made the wise decision,... and yes, maybe we can prove that even when given the option, we loved our country too much to leave,.. and we are willing to make sacrifices... perhaps our minds are still too innocent and not polluted yet... :) together, we had took the road less travelled by,.. let's make a difference!
    JYSim, you are only in 3rd year,... i think you have to decide what you want most in your life... and what kind of life do you want... where do you see yourself in 10 years time, in 20 years time... sometimes, you just have to close your eyes, shut your ears, and follow your heart... all the best in your studies! :)
    shinLoo, :) but i'll be missing you very much when working in malacca...

  25. hi there, stumbled to ur blog from Im about ti finish my studies in overseas and am a JPA scholar bound to return home after this. Although i know the medical system in malaysia sux big time but just like you, i hope for a change. why do we need to seek better health treatment from singapore when we can have it in our own country? why are we helping singapore? their own citizens are migrating as well to better western countries. i suppose where there are better opportunities, people will definitely want a better life. I guess im just being patriotic and thankful for tax payer's money being put into my years of education. anyway, all the best to you and might see you in the future! take care and stay strong! :)


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Author's Note

Dear friends and readers, Thank you for dropping by and leaving comments/ shoutouts. More importantly, thank you for being there... please accept my apology that, lately, i may be busy with work and not have time to reply youir messages/comments, but rest assured, each and everyone is read, and highly appreciated :) have a nice day! ^^

of love

Today, i heard a story which was not a story of falling...
of living in the dark end of winter turmoil..
instead, it was a love story..
of a couple who did not live happily ever after...
but they live, loving each other..