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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Working in Australia

Hello again! Some of you might want to know how working in Australia is like compared to Malaysia The first thing I can say that everyone’s experience in different I came from Malaysia with a background of ENT, general surgery and plastic surgery When I came to Australia I was given a Senior House OfficerContinue reading “Working in Australia”

17 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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