Life After Medicine


Is there life after medicine?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who left their housemanship halfway through. Just to share with you guys the available opportunities out there for a MBBS graduate. These few weeks I’ve been doing some research, asking around my relatives in healthcare field, been attending job interviews, searching on the internet, and it all comes to a single conclusion.

Of course other healthcare related jobs are available for a medical graduate, but prospects are better for those who have completed their housemanship, and granted full registration (APC). Oops, sounds like a bad news for me. 😛

These few years our nurses encountered a major problem, which is equally worrying for the future medical graduates – Unemployment (KKM started giving out housemanship on contract basis lately). With the current glut of doctors, it is perhaps not surprising that more medical professionals will be leaving clinical medicine to venture into various non-clinical pathways.

There is always an argument, you see, though in few years time our country will have enough doctors to cope with the population, BUT why the heck the workload of doctors in government hospital is still pilling up? Too many patients? Not enough hospitals? OR we are still short of doctors?

Nope. The answer is, there are enough hospital with adequate number of beds and doctors but unfortunately only 20% of the population can afford private medical services. Our rakyat is getting poorer (evidence : Our national debts to equal GDP in 2019 ) and they are left with no choice but to seek medical treatment in government hospital and clinics.

Back to our topic, shall we?

Lets look at some options available if you quit your housemanship :

1) Insurance Company

Yes, their doors are opened for MBBS graduates. However, if you are only backed by a provisional registration with MMC, you are entering at a lower level, it means you are forced to compete with other science graduates (biomedicine, physiotherapy, life science, microbiology, etc) and your pay is way below a UD41 house officer (around RM2500 – of course with performance increment and bonuses). Jobs available :

a) Medical Underwriter

Medical underwriter is a person who evaluates the clients eligibility towards health insurance coverage, by utilizing medical or health status information. For a MBBS grad, surely in terms of assessing the client’s risk factors to decide the amount of premium and of course in maintaining the practice of rescission*, they do have the edge over other science graduates.

*With the medical field getting very competitive these days, many may have to resort to unethical practices in order to survive. Hence, it’s the job of the underwriter to prevent these intentional frauds.

5.5 days/week, 8.30 am – 5.30 pm with occasional OTs (OTs are paid)

Usually in-house training will be provided by the insurance firm for several months, and it’s really up to your own initiative to learn from scratch. You’ll need to persue further studies in medical insurance if you wish to be promoted upto managerial level.

b) Claims Investigator

A claims investigator carries out investigation over claims made by policy holders on behalf of the insurance company. They will determine the extent and validity of the claims, assessing the liability, scrutinization is done to reduce chances of frauds, and thus negotiate the payment to be paid to the policy holder.

These people basically need to follow up closely with the client’s medical history and records with the doctors, hospitals and clinics under a tight dateline.

For someone who has an enquiring mind with great deal of common sense, communication and negotiating skills.

c) Medical Manager

Just got to know from my interviewer that the underwriting and claims department is headed by a doctor. Yes, a doctor with full registration with MMC and possess APC. They are in-charge of all underwriting and approval of new business, reviewing in cases, suspense, approve refunds of premium and head quality improvement projects, etc.  Highly recommended for those who are not keen in persuing in clinical medicine after 2 years of housemanship.

Similarly, 5 days/week, 8.30 – 5.30 pm.

2) Pharmaceutical Companies

There’s been a lot of speculation that in the future, many fresh medical graduate who are unable to secure a place in housemanship will resort in a career in pharmaceutical companies.

I’m saying in the future.

Currently all medical colleges are churning out about 7-8k medical graduates/year, and yet approval are still given to many others to establish new medical schools in Malaysia. The decision to scrape off the on-call allowances and replacing it with flexible allowance is viewed as a measure to reduce the houseman’s workload. But, how many of you really agree that this is really the reason? Many speculated that it is because the general election is near, or there’re simply too many HOs around. But my opinion? Malaysia is a country having one of the highest number of civil servants in the world (same goes to Greece), with only 28 million population. Hence, KKM is finding it difficult to cope at the moment with so many fresh graduates produced every year, not to mention that our “tank” is going dry soon.

Evidence is that KKM already started giving out housemanship in contract basis (word from the hospital director, and our famous Dr. Pagalavan), it means that after 2 years of housemanship, job is not guarenteed in the government service, and priority of course, given to JPA/MARA scholars. Medical graduates will have to undergo job interviews in order to secure a place in a hospital to do their housemanship. (not like the current interview by SPA, more like formality)

Oops, again I’m going off the topic.

a) Clinical Research Associate (CRA)

I’ve been sending my resume to most of the pharmaceutical companies depicted above, asking for a position as a CRA. Personally, I’m interested in research and feedbacks from my relatives in this field that these companies do pay good money to their CRAs.

The main function of a CRA is to monitor clinical trials. A CRA ensures compliance with the clinical trial protocol, check clinical site activities, makes on site visits, review case report forms and communicates with clinical research investigators.

I’m not too sure about the working hours of a CRA, but most likely it’s pretty much the same as other jobs in private sector, 5 day/week, 8-9 hours/day.

b) Medical representatives/Medical product specialist

Tired of the job as a doctor? Think you can sell? Doesn’t suit your social status? Think again.

The sales people are currently, the highest paid employees in the world, and mind you, money = status.

However, I always believed that being successful in sales, somehow depends on one’s innate ability to persuade others, which is obviously something I’m very poor at. I’ve received numerous calls from pharmaceutical companies inviting me for an interview, but most of the time it ends up with dissapointment when I found out that – Shit, It’s sales again. Man, I hate doing sales (recalled my previous fcked up experience being a sales assistant in Addidas and Bata)

Basicall you’ll be visiting clinics, hospitals and pharmacies daily to sell and promote pharmaceutical products, conducting sales and promotional activities to create demand and awareness of the company’s product. You’ll be dealing mainly with doctors, medical specialists, dentists and pharmacists, both in private and government sector.

What’s the catch? This is the part I hate about sales the most. You’ll be given a basic salary (it’s freaking low, trust me), and IF you ever hit the sales target for that particular month, boom, your salary hikes up with extra commission. But if you failed, you’ll be getting peanuts for the month, and on top of that, you’ll be pressured by your superiors and if such bad luck continues, you’re fired.

3) Lecturing

With the mushrooming of medical schools going on in our country, shortage of medical lecturers are inevitable. However, many having the same question as mine initially about being a basic science lecturer, which is : Can I teach basic science subjects with a MBBS degree?

Answer is NO. Medical Colleges will only accept those with a post-graduate degree, preferably with 2-3 years of teaching experience. Hence, it’s really up to you whether you really have the passion to teach.

One will need to apply for a 2 year master programme in Physiology, Anatomy, Biochemistry or Pharmacology, awarded by UM/UKM/USM (UPM I guess). You can visit their offical website for more details regarding the course structure, requirements and application.

Although HOship is not an entry requirement for such programme, again, priority is given to those who have completed it. However, I seriously doubt those who had endured 2 years of hardship will be interested in such roles. Hence, chances are there for people like me, if I do have a passion in teaching.

4) Non-medical related field

Yup, it’s a pretty tough decision but job opportunities are more in non-medical related field.

Many employers from the established firms nowadays prefers to use their own ‘end-products’ of their very own in-house training. It means, they don’t care whether you’re a graduate of law, engineering, biomedicine, bussiness studies, etc. If you have the correct attitude and character that suits their needs, they wouldn’t hesitate to hire you.

Usually, such positions titled ‘Management Trainee’/’Graduate Trainee’/’Apprenticeship Programme’ in the advertisement.

But of course, you have to convince the employers why you choose to leave clinical medicine to join them. Your answer of this question, most of the time, decides the outcome of your application.

So, It’s still premature to tell whether I’ve made the right decision. I mean, of course I hope to secure a better job in the private sector, at least to justify my bold (?dumb) decision to leave clinical medicine.

Joining back housemanship? Hmm…chances are very slim. Even if I’m interested, perhaps the circumstances wouldn’t allow me to do so. Again, the blame is on the current glut of doctors, since KKM has already offered housemanship on contract basis, what are my chances?

Anyway, I stand firm on my decision no matter what it turns out to be.

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9 responses to “Life After Medicine

  1. As someone who dislike the clinical aspects of the practice of medicine, I find this list rather helpful (even though I found most of them unappealing – with the exception of research – when compared with the prospect of a boring, vanilla job in clinical practice). But I’m going to at least complete my housemanship first and attain full registration status. I wonder if there’s a market for science-literate journalists or columnist. Surely, 5 years of medical training can be parlayed into research interpretation and communication of science to the public.

  2. Yes, completing housemanship first would be better as prospects are more.
    Your question regarding the presence of a market for science-literate journalist or columnist…yes there is a demand in the market. However, I doubt it’s in Malaysia, probably Singapore, Hong Kong, China.

    Perhaps, this is something you’re looking for : (I can’t provide the link since to view this job advertisement, password is required)

    Medical Writer

  3. Pingback: For Future Doctors: What if ………….. Part 2 « Pagalavan's Avatar·

  4. Don’t forget Direct Sales or Multilevel Marketing…currently best paid in the world…very low startup capital and all the time on ur side for u and ur family…

  5. hi bro, im danny from hosp serdang. just dropped out from the living hell a few weeks back. looking for a job now. how about u bro? already started working? do keep us updated regarding ur progress, cos there are more HO like u and me out there, and we want to see u succeed, so that u may become an inspiration for all of us. all the best to u bro!

  6. Yo man!

    You left out one of the most lucrative jobs in the world which is farming. You can either tanam kacang, tanam jagung or tanam sayur. Haha! Those wisecrack racist school jokes are coming back atcha, innit!

    No, seriously, here’s a tip. To all of you…

    Start from today, pick some book on stock market Technical Analysis. Everyday, just try and analyze some stocks. Take a book and log your ‘play’. Do this after a year or so and if your wins is about 80-90% of the time, or how much wins you can accept, then start little. Do not start right away with your hard earned money! Do it on paper first. Read some blogs about sound Tech Analysis or get a mentor even. By 5 years time, you’ll gonna be an expert if you do this, everyday.

    Do this at your own risk! Trust me, I’m Daim’s great grand-nephew.

  7. hey, i wanna share my exp of being a medical rep for pharma company. i decided not to pursue HO a year back. i have since then been working as a medical rep. first of all, paywise u dont have to be worried much….minimum pay which means u dont hit ur incentive is not too far off a HO`s pay…ofc slightly less…but when u do hit ur target…get ready to rock n roll….money is there to be found…but be ready for this…u need to understand that in general public view u have taken a big dip in ur social status….u will be constantly reminded of this when you meet ppl who knows ur background…so they can be ur family, ex uni mates, anyone…this sh*t will affect you every now and then….but what i do is remind myself that it doesnt matter what others think……reply to this and tell me how i can contact/help you if you want to know more..cheers

    • Hi,

      Appreciate your comments.
      I found mine and been working a year ago.

      I believe we all (you know the quitters) should be helping one another.
      Form a group or something. (many others out there are lost)

      Cheers.

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