A Sarawakian Doctor's Journey Down Under

Dum Spiro Spero

While I breathe, I hope – Motto of the Kingdom of Sarawak

Hi there, my name is Sebastian. I’m writing this blog as a journal for myself to keep track of my journey in Australia. I moved from Malaysia in 2018 to work as a doctor here. Along the way I’ve learned a few things I could share with you. From passing the AMC exams, adjusting to life in Australia and other topics thrown in between, I hope this blog will help you along the way should you ever choose to migrate down here.

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Regional or City?

Hello everyone, It has been a long time since my last blog entry and I do appreciate all the comments. I would do my best to answer your questions to the best of my ability. Ok, so I think I would like to take the time to write about a blog entry about where shouldContinue reading “Regional or City?”

23 thoughts on “A Sarawakian Doctor's Journey Down Under

  1. Hello, 5th year medical student here! Have some questions. Is there any way I can contact you? Thank you for ur time . #Malaysiantoo

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  2. Hi Sebastian, I recently received an offer letter to Queensland as well in a regional hospital. I’m commencing in August 2021. Could you please tell me more acquiring general registration. I’m scheduled to join the RMO rotation pool, will this rotation include medical, surgical and ED? Also as a general question, do you have any regrets leaving Malaysia? Is it easier to specialise over there as compared to Malaysia for a medical based specialty?
    Thank you

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    1. Hi Rrds I’m glad you got a job! Where abouts in Queensland are you? To get general registration you can look in one of my earlier entries. You would need to pass the AMC exams or get a Work Based Assessment. You need to complete your compulsory rotations.

      The RMO rotation pool would include all those postings so don’t worry.

      Regrets? Sometimes honestly yes. I do miss a lot of things in Malaysia i.e. the weather, the food and of course family. But to each their own. Do not let that hold you back from progressing forward. Memories serve us well but they can also make us too comfortable.

      To specialise … that is a good question. It really depends what you want to do. I was pretty sure I wanted to do GP but I wanted to security to know I could always go back to hospital hence the general pathway. It is not easy to specialise in any field in Australia. there is no masters programme akin to that in Malaysia. You have to take into consideration your family, financial situation, your work environment.

      My advice is to have a plan of where you see yourself in 1 year, then in 5 years and 10 years and build it from there. Your career choices may change along the way but that is ok, just make sure you are in a secure position before making any big decisions here.

      Good luck!

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  3. Hi Sebastian!

    Thank you very much for all the information you’ve shared. It has been reallyyy helpful. I am a private Malaysian university graduate as well and have passed my MCQ paper. However, as AMC have yet to release any clinical examination dates, was planning to look into the WBA programme. Do you have any information in regards to WBA as the information provided on AMC are quite vague. In addition, is IELTS required for registration with AHPRA?

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    1. Hi Lee

      Congratulations on passing your mcq. Must have been hard. Now with wba are only held in specific hospitals. You would need to research where you intend to go to. Have a read about the different states and find out which one suits you best. My advice is wait for the clinical exam dates to be released. Pass it before coming here. It will be tough being in a new country getting used to things. Having one less thing to worry about i.e. exams would help tremendously. Speaking from personal experience I would have rather finished all the amc exams before coming here. Then again see what suits you best.

      Ielts is needed for your visa. So you have to sit for it regardless.

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  4. Hi Sebastian, thanks for this detailed write up on your experience!
    I will be starting medical school in M’sia next year, and I have some questions for you:

    1. How hard is it to become a doctor in Aus as a Malaysian? Were you amongst the brightest?
    2. Approximately how much will it cost to move my career to Aus (including specialising there).
    3. At which point in my career can/should I start moving to Aus? Straight after graduation? After residency? After working as a contract Medical Officer (MO) for a few years?

    Wanted to practice/specialise in Aus to avoid the issue where contract MO’s can’t start specialising until they get a permanent post.

    Thanks in advance 😀

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    1. Hi thanks for your comments

      To answer your questions:

      1. You do not need to be the brightest to do medicine regardless of the country. A smart person would not do medicine at all. They would go into other fields that are more lucrative and fulfilling than medicine. You need a certain character, a lot of fortitude – physical, mental and emotional if you choose this field. If you choose this line of work for the wrong reasons you will burn out within a few years if not months.

      2. This depends on your own situation. There is no cookie cutter answer to this. You can see the fees of the exams, calculate your flight tickets and other expenses. This changes if you have a spouse or child. So I would advice you to do your own research and see if this is the best choice for you.

      3. Which university are you in? If youre in IMU and you intend to go overseas look to their PMS programme. My blog is targeted to doctors who are already working in Malaysia who are thinking of migrating. For these doctors i would strongly advice to get a full mmc registration before considering migrating. Things may not always work out in Australia.

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  5. Hi Sebastian,

    I am a Irish medical school graduate and am back in malaysia waiting for housemanship for the next 2 years because i have failed to get housemanship spots in ireland due to competitiveness, I am hoping to immigrate to Australia and work as a doctor there in the future. I was wondering when will i be eligible to apply for the standard pathway , is it after 2 years of housemanship and after i get MO post? do you recommend me finishing my specialisation in Malaysia before moving to Australia since specialisation spots are given priority to Australians first if i am not mistaken? and are there any malaysian specialisation programme that are not recognised by the AMC? How difficult is it to get a specialisation programme in Australia? And with the recent contract based MO changes, what are some of the challenges that post-interns face in terms of obtaining the specialisation they desire?

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

    Many thanks

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    1. Hello

      I would recommend you finish your full registration with MMC first. Nothing is certain in this world. So at least if anything happens in Australia, you’d have Malaysia to retreat to till you figure things out. Now it depends what you want to specialise in. If you wanna do GP its fairly straightforward. If you want to do medicine or surgical based its competitive so you got to do your own research
      If you specialise in Malaysia, it would be more challenging to come over. You may need to take registrar roles rather than specialist posts. If you dont mind then by all means go for it. IMHO i would sub and stay in Malaysia and go to private. The safest bet is come in after your full registration with mmc, pass the amc exams then get your general registration with AHPRA. It opens more doors.

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  6. Hi Dr Sebastian,

    I would like to ask you regarding WBA pathway. During the WBA, how do they assess us? What are the difference from the clinical examination? Do we get paid during the 12 months supervised practice while completing WBA? From your personal opinion, do you recommend me to complete the AMC clinical examination or to complete the WBA? and what are the advantages or disadvantages of those 2 pathways?

    Thank you so much for answering.

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  7. Hi Dr Sebastian,

    I have some questions regarding the WBA. May i know how will they assess us during the WBA? Do we get paid during the 12 months of supervised practice while completing the WBA? What are the disadvantages or advantages between getting the general registration through the WBA pathway or through completing Clinical Exam. From your personal opinion, which pathway is better for someone who just finish their housemanship and planning to work in Aus?

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    1. Hi Chen

      You need to be hired by a hospital to get into the WBA. You can work as a resident medical officer with a limited registration i.e. after passing AMC part 1 while waiting for your assessment. And yes you do get paid. I don’t have experience in WBA. I only know that certain hospitals offer it. You’d need to know your supervisors and get them to assess you. Too many variable factors that is beyond your control. However with the clinical exams the pathway is more straightforward,you can plan when to sit for it and it is standardised. You can prepare better for the clinical exam. There are many resources out there for you to use. You can read about it in my section regarding clinical exams.

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      1. Hi Sebastian, thanks for writing such an extensive blog sharing your experiences and guiding aspiring Malaysian doctors. May I know did both you and your wife prepared for the exam and got offered jobs together? And how does people treat foreigners in rural Australia, is it safe for a foreigner especially women to live alone there?

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      2. Hi Ng

        Yes we did prepare and got job offers together.

        Generally I felt they treated me fairly. There was some elements of racism, I won’t deny that even when it was unintentional due to ignorance on their part. Australia is one of the safest place for women. I think I read that statement some where. Just avoid places where you know they would be heavy drinking involved.

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  8. Hi there, how do you do?

    I just came across your blogpost. Congratulations! Great to see your accomplishments. I’m currently working as a contract MO in KK. I would like to know if you have any ideas about FRACGP course by Academy of Family Medicine in Malaysia. I want to work as a GP in Australia. Two ways possible – AMC or FRACGP (AFMP).

    May I know if you have any comparison between the both. Which is which? It would be grateful if you could provide more informations about FRACGP by AFMP. Upon passing, do we get job guarantee in Australia. Be it outskirts or remote. Anywhere in Australia should be fine.

    Stay safe and looking forward to hear from you.

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    1. Hi Munees. I am not familiar with the FRACGP course by the AFM. I am not sure if it is recognised by Australia anymore so you might want to look into that. It really depends on your goals. For me I wanted to have the freedom to work anywhere in Australia without any restrictions. So I chose the AMC standard pathway to get a general registration. Being in remote or regional Australia is very challenging, not just the lack of resources available within the region but also the social isolation would lead to the clinician to be vulnerable to burn out, depression and anxiety. I hope you would take this into consideration when deciding your path. All the best!

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  9. Hi Sebastian,

    Hope you are doing good. I am keen to pursue a career in Australia and hope to sign up for the AMC MCQ soon. I would like some feedback on where did you purchase your books for referencing from. Did you purchase them from the AMC online store itself? Or are there any bookstores in Malaysia that have them?

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