They have an excellent flow chart that you can use for a self-assessment to see if you are eligible to practice medicine in Australia.
AHPRA is like their MMC. You need a license to practice.
There are 3 sorts of registrations.
Limited registration – only practice in the designated area with supervision. i.e Hospital A or Clinic B only
Provisional registration – practice with supervision (interns from Australian medical universities would be given this or those who have completed AMC part 1 and 2 but yet to finish their compulsory postings)
General registration – you can practice anywhere in Australia
You must either have a basic medical degree that is recognised by AHPRA or complete the AMC examinations.
Thus far, only Monash Medical University is the only medical school in Malaysia that is recognised in Australia. If you are a Monash graduate, you need to show proof that you have indeed finished your housemanship in Malaysia. You can ask your admin in hospital to provide you a written letter stating that you’ve successfully finished your housemanship. You can apply for a provisional registration, look for a job and complete the compulsory postings (more on that later).
For the rest, you have to sit for the AMC exams.
The next thing you have to do if you do not have a Monash Medical degree, is to visit the Australian Medical Council (AMC) website.
Before you can apply for the exams, they would need to verify that your credentials are legit.
Your medical school needs to be recognised by the WHO (don’t worry almost all Malaysian medical schools are)
To verify your credentials, you have to apply for this account
Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC)
In a nutshell, these guys will make sure that you are really you. It is accepted as a verification tool in most developed countries. Even if you want to go to USA you would need this. You need to prepare your documents because they will ask for it. For more details refer to their website. I have listed their current fees below
To create and account and confirm your identity USD 125
Verification of your credentials USD 90
You’ve got your EPIC account? Good, now the next step is to apply for your AMC exams.
To do so you need to apply for an AMC portfolio in order to sit for the exams. This portfolio would keep track on your personal details, professional qualifications, exams you are taking or have taken. Don’t worry. No one but you can see this. It is a fairly straightforward process and should not give you too much trouble.
Now in the next entry I will tell you more about the AMC exams.
AHPRA – check if your medical degree is recognised or not
It has been a while since I’ve wrote. COVID has really changed the game for everyone.
For some reason or another, most IMGs coming to Australia end up going down the GP pathway.
I do not know why most IMGs chose this pathway. Perhaps its the life-work balance we yearn for that is missing in Malaysia. The earning ability as a GP is undoubtably more in Australia than it is in Malaysia. One can earn a comfortable life as a GP. However the grass is never always greener on the other side.
There are several ways to enter the GP pathway.
The first thing you need to find out is if your degree is recognised by AHPRA. I have written about this in my previous posts.
One can enter the PESCI pathway with AMC part 1 and a limited registration. In my honest opinion this will limit the places you can work in. Please read more about this pathway if you feel it suits you best.
The safer route that allows you more flexibility would be the standard AMC pathway that gives you a general registration (GR). With a GR you can work as a GP or in the hospital if your visa allows it. Honeslty speaking, GP is not for everyone. You may try GP for a few months and find that it does not suit you and you can go back to hospital to find out what you really want to do. Even being a career hospitalist is a choice here in Australia. We can discuss this in a later post.
Ok back to our topic.
There are two colleges you can apply to get Fellowship in general practice.
Royal Australian College General Practioners (RACGP)
Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACCRM)
I will talk about the RACGP
As of 2021-2022 training to become a Fellow is via two pathways
AGPT – Australian General Practice Training Program – a government funded pathway to train doctors to become GPs. The duration is about 3 years. The pay is fixed with superannuation, paid annual leaves etc. There is good supervision and the clinics that the doctor is sent to has been vetted by the college to train GP registrars. The goal is to prepare the candidate to successfully pass the GP exams. The entry criteria is listed on the website. In summary you’d need a general registration and permanent residency.
PEP – Practice Experience Pathway (PEP) (Standard) – Now with the PEP Standard pathway, it gets a bit tricky. The goal of this pathway is to get IMGs to rural and remote areas to meet the workforce shortages. One needs to have a minimum of a limited registration to be able to apply to PEP. The areas which a potential candidate is elligible to are MMM 2-7 regions (please refer to the workforce calculator to determine the MMM status of your area of interest). You can apply for PEP even on a temporary work visa. You would be allowed to charge the full Medicare rebate of a Vocationally Registered (VR) – GP -( note that non VR rates are 80% of VR rates – the difference is significant). You would also need to nominate your clinic to the college to see if it is suitable for you to conduct PEP. Now finding a good clinic can be challenging. There are many clinics out there that will take advantage of the many vulnerabilities an IMG faces – i.e. registration with AHPRA, visa and financial status, isolation of being far away from family – to their benefit. I have experienced it first hand and heard countless anectodes of IMGs being mistreated by sadly, IMG run clinics.
So my advice is this, if GP is what you are aiming for, read all you can about the AGPT and PEP. If you have friends in Australia who are GPs, pick their brains about these two pathways. Do not rush into things and take your time to decide.
If you do go into PEP, please visit the clinic you intend to work in. Sit with the practice owner for a week or more to see how it is run. If you note anything dodgy about the clinic, write it down for your own reference. Talk to your friends who are GPs or registrars in the program to see if the clinic is suitable for you.
Some clinic owners see their clinic as ways to make as much money as possible and would stoop to unethical methods to keep the patients with them i.e. provide face mask wearing exemption letters. They have become more business-persons rather than doctors. You can earn a good living being a GP but it has to be honest work. Please avoid such clinics, and most importantly do not end up being like these doctors.
I can talk about selfcare in future entries. It can be applied to every health care provider in the world. It is high time we as doctors should start taking care of our own health too.
Working in regional or rural areas can save you a few thousand dollars a year in rent money
The real estate agency would want a few details. Mainly ID documents like passport, work offer letter and a recommendation*
* this is basically a letter written by your previous tenants. If you’ve been staying with your parents all this while, don’t la ask your parents to write this letter. One way is to ask your hospital admin in Australia to vouch for you by saying you’re responsible in answering your emails, providing documents bla, bla, bla.
The first thing I realised in Australia is how big it is. In Kuching, everything is so close to each other.
The first thing that we got was a used car.
Why a car? Well we needed to move luggage around and buy more stuff.
We didn’t know anyone in the place we were posted at.
Carrying all these around by hand and walking several kilometres was not feasible.
One piece of advice I will give you: Do not buy cars from personal owners. Always buy cars from a dealership. They will make sure your care is road worthy (need certificate one), not stolen, serviced, road tax (here they call it rego)
Buying cars in Australia is not as expensive as buying a car in Malaysia.
There is a running joke in Malaysia that goes like this “When you buy a car in Malaysia you buy two for the government.” Its most likely to support Proton. Anyway, I’m not going to talk about Malaysia’s cars here
A decent used car can cost between AUD 3500 to AUD 6000
I bought a used Nissan Tiida 2009 model costing less than AUD 5000. It was under the ownership of an old couple who really jaga it nicely.
They just need your passport to confirm your identity. I also brought along my international driving license too
If you want to change your car later by all means do so. Once you have a pay check, you can apply for a loan to get a newer car if that’s your thing.
How is food in Australia?
In urban areas where there is more cultural diversity, the food can be delicious (no where near our Malaysian food la but still not too bad). Finding work in urban areas though, not so easy.
In regional or rural areas, not so much in terms of food
You might get a few Korean, Chinese or Indian restaurants around, but they really toned down the spiciness to fit into the local palate.
Oh, by the way, no 24 hour mamak also.
This was a big culture shock for me as a Malaysian. For us, food is everywhere 24/7, 365 days a year. To come to a place where the 24 hour food joints are McD’s (Macca here in Aussie) and Hungry Jacks (Burger King) is depressing.
Eating out is also expensive and lacking variety. There is only so much eggs, bacon and avocado I can take.
The coffee on the other hand is amazing due to the Greek and Italian influence. If you are a coffee aficionado (atas coffee drinker) you will like it here.
The only other option is to masak sendiri which brings us to
Raw products in Australia is cheap compared to Malaysia. Don’t take in the conversion factor, you can afford to eat healthy here without blowing a big hole in your wallet.
Almond milk here is AUD 3 (can reach AUD 1 if on discount) compared to home RM 12-15
Even if you’re not into these sorts of food, the other products here are affordable
I moved here with my wife. We don’t have kids yet.
We spend roughly AUD 90 a week for the both of us. This includes food and other stuff i.e. washing detergents, toiletries etc
Most areas have Aldi, Coles and Woolworth.
If you really want to get a good bargain on raw products, you can go to the farmers market.
Cooking at Home
Something I would recommend you doing.
Buying a slow cooker is the best investment you can do.
The first hardware I bought in Australia. A 3.5L slow cooker costing AUD 32.
There is so much you can do with this with so little effort.
We cook a few days’ worth, keep it in the fridge and reheat it when we want to makan.
We cooked different dishes, so we won’t get too bored of what we are eating.
Don’t worry, this slow cooker won’t burn your house down. It cooks the food slowly over 6-8 hours time.
Just pre-cut your ingredients the night before, chuck it into your cooker before going to work. By the time you come home, got food liao.
I will state this here.
Internet in this country isn’t as good as Malaysia.
Maybe the country is big, but I don’t know the exact reason.
Compare internet plans before getting one.
And when you’re renting, make sure your house can support NBN (fast internet connection sort of thing)
Put aside some money to enjoy yourself.
Yes, you need to save money.
But you came here wanting a better life for yourself. No point saving all the money you can and end up miserable.
Its ok to spend a bit of money to relax and have fun.
Don’t la sampai make it rain ok.
I personally like to drive down to the nearest big city and spend the weekend there makan and jalan jalan. My wife likes to watch the orchestra live. A change in scenery occasionally will recharge you, but to each their own.
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 Officer (SHO) position for 52 weeks with an option to renew it
By then I did not want to enter a surgical based programme because I lost all taste for it
I wanted to have a work life balance and not be on call
I liked the breadth of knowledge rather than focusing on one discipline
I decided I wanted to go into GP
I prepared myself by requesting more exposure to O&G, paeds and ED.
I will talk about GP training in this country in another entry
This entry would be about my experiences as a RMO here in Australia
In Australia you are supposed to work a certain amount of hours in a week. You can work anywhere between 36-40 hours per week. You are paid per hour. The base pay depends on which state you are working at.
If you are rostered for more shifts, you will be paid according to your contract (it can be 1.5 to 2.0 times your base pay).
You get your payslip every 2 weeks (unlike in Malaysia where you’re paid monthly)
The finance guys will minus off taxes, Superannuation (like EPF la)
You can apply to a salary packaging scheme i.e. Remserv that protects your salary from being taxed. It can be used for rent/petrol/utilities etc – read up more about this
Making Clinical Decisions
As a RMO you are a junior member of the staff
Everything you do or get asked on by the allied health staff – RUN IT BY YOUR SENIORS
This is important especially in the first few months working in Australia
This is not Malaysia, things that are acceptable in Malaysia may not be ok here in Australia
Patient’s here are more aware of their medication and health conditions compared to back home
Do not brush of patient’s complaints or there will be a formal complaint against you
Always play it safe even if you know what you are doing.
Run your plan by your registrar or consultant before initiating it. You can also learn from their explanation
The good thing about Australia is that almost everything is electronic, this includes clinical guidelines
Each state or hospital service is different, but these guidelines are a useful resource for you to decide what treatment your patient needs.
There are ample computers available in every ward
Always follow the guidelines, do not deviate from them unless you have the backing of someone more experienced
This is not place to have “I rasa patient ini ada …” or “Masa I dekat HKL …. “ and back it up with an anecdote or something a prof said to his/her master students and you picked it up while doing rounds in Malaysia.
If you cannot back up clinical decisions with cold hard facts from the accepted guidelines, this can be trouble.
Remember to pace your self
It’s hard enough to migrate from home to come to a foreign country and work
Do not burn yourself out
You came here to make a better life for yourself
Be kind to yourself
If you want to reward yourself with a nice trip to the city for “jalan-jalan, cari makan” by all means do it
If you want a video game console to help you destress – do it
If you feel stressed out with work please seek medical help. They take mental health very seriously over here. Being away from your support system at home is challenging. Sometimes talking it out with your spouse or close friends will help
Take little breaks in between
Always go and eat your meals. If the patient is not dying – please go and get something to eat
After your shift, handover your patients and go home
Once you go home please switch off work. It will give your mind a break from being at work. Disconnect your work email. Silent your work phone and chill.
Do not be afraid to look for better job opportunities. After you get your general registration and PR the world is your oyster.
If your current workplace is not aligned to your personal and/or professional goals, find one that is.
You can always switch between private and public hospitals. It’s not like Malaysia where if you quit government you cannot come back in
Australians treat their employees rather well in comparison to Malaysia
They don’t have punch ins or thumb ins machine.
They don’t expect you to fill up dumb paperwork to fulfil some Datuk’s KPI or such.
However, you are expected to work hard while you are on the clock
Be punctual, do all your tasks within your scope and handover properly
Be very careful about your own personal views especially when it comes to race, religion and sexual identities. Aussies are not the most politically correct (PC) people in the world but they are doing a good job in making their country inclusive of all walks of life. Do not under any circumstances exhibit racial or religious bigotry or being homophobic, transphobic in public or private or even give parenting advice for that matter.
Keep your personal thoughts to yourself. Keep your head down and grind on with your work. You are there to work, not change the world.
Do not goof off or go for long coffee breaks like back home in Malaysia
You will be assessed after every term (10 weeks) by your supervisor. Those assessments are very important as it goes back to AHPRA.
That’s all I have to say for now
The next entry will be about life outside medicine in Australia
Seeing that you’re overseas, they will do a phone/skype interview.
Again, I would suggest you take leave for the interview
You need to be in a calmed and collected place
Make sure your laptop and microphone is working if its skype
Or if they call your mobile – charge it!
Be mindful of the time difference. Can be 1 hour can be 3 hours. Always confirm the time!
Practice speaking proper English. It will help during the interview. Speak calmly, take your time answering the questions. Show them your best self but don’t go overboard ok.
Aside from the usual job interview questions, like why do you wanna work here, what are your goals etc, they will ask you a clinical question to see how you’d respond to the situation
And they will ask you a situational judgment test. i.e. if you find your colleague drunk at work what would you do?
So prepare for all of this. Google is always there
They will notify you of the results in a few days and you can decide if you want to take the job. I would advise to apply to many places and see which one responds to you. I applied for almost a dozen before getting a reply
Prepared well for the Clinical exam. (see previous post)
Now you think you are ready to sit for the exam. Good on you!
Like the MCQ exams, you book your Clinical Exams (CE) on AMC portfolio.
A few years ago, you would be able to sit for the CE in different areas on Australia.
As of now, the only place to sit for it will be in Melbourne.
This makes it tough because there will be limited slots available.
I will give you some tips to make sure your exam booking goes smoothly
Do not book your leave and plane tickets before you get your exam date. Otherwise it will give you more headaches
AMC will release the dates of the available slots monthly. They will post the date and the time when you can book your exam.
On the day the dates are to be revealed, take leave or call in late to work – this is very important.
The dates will be snapped up within minutes and you will have to wait for the next month before you can try again.
(personal experience – I planned to sit for it in March but was late because I had ward work, so I missed the boat and had to sit for it in April – I passed in the end though J )
You will need to be super focused without distractions on the day – get your credit card ready. Make sure you have enough credit to pay for the exam
You only have 15 minutes to confirm the payment, otherwise you cannot book the exam
An important note – you can choose your preferences on which exam date you want, but it does not mean you will get that date. They will give you any slot which is available in that month. So this is the reason why you should not book your tickets and leave before confirming this. Susah, I know.
As mentioned earlier. They only centre available is in Melbourne.
Australian Medical Council’s Vernon C Marshall National Test Centre (NTC) in Melbourne
I strongly advise you to book your flight 2-3 days before your exam.
What is that? Expensive you say?
This is why:
If you’ve never been to Melbourne before, it’s a good idea to go early to familiarise yourself with the city. (personally I like Melbourne)
You’re not there for holiday; you are there for an exam. 7 hour flights the night before the exam will not bode well for you. You need to be well rested before the exam.
If you think you can sit for an exam the next day after travelling for more than half a day be my guest and go for it. Please let me know the outcome.
There are flights from Malaysia to Melbourne depending on where you fly from
I flew from Kuching. I compared the flight costs and chose the cheapest ones.
At that time, the cheapest was a lay-over in Singapore International Airport before a 7 plus hour flight to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne
Regardless of the flight you choose, it will be a 7 hour flight and you need to be able to function the moment you reach Melbourne.
Ok you’ve landed now what?
Buy a SIM card. Aussie has Optus, Telstra, Dodo dan sebagainya
They sell it in vending machines at the airport. Roaming very mahal if you use postpaid. In urban areas the reception for any services is good but read up more if you want to maximise.
Make sure you have these apps on your phone
Uber – Aussie no Grab, ok
UberEats – very helpful if you malas go out
AirBnB – cheaper than hotel and can some apartments you can cook. More choices if you want to stay close to the NTC
Choose an accommodation near the NTC.
After you book into your accommodation, don’t just go revise. Your mind needs time to declutter. Go out for a walk and enjoy the Melbourne weather.
You can buy snacks and food almost anywhere. Got a lot of Asian food around so don’t worry if steak and potatoes aren’t your thing.
Australia’s main supermarkets would be Coles, Woolsworth
Just buy a few things to eat while you study. Or if you really wanna save, can bring from home – janji it doesn’t get confiscated in customs.
Day of the exam
Same strategy applies with the MCQ exams
Eat a good meal 2 hours before
Bring some snacks to the waiting room
Don’t take too much coffee before the exam
Stay well hydrated but don’t drink too much
Reach the test centre early
You’d wait at the main lobby of the centre – you will see a bunch of nervous looking people with their heads buried in books – those would be the other candidates
An usher would take your attendance – bring your passport and other important documents with you
You can do some revision at this point but why should you? You’re ready. Take this time to declutter your mind
The usher will bring you up to the floor where the exam will be held.
Another official will confirm your identity and put you in a waiting room with a locker
Follow their instructions and keep your stuff in the locker
If you need to pee, pee now
Before the exam they will show you an instructional video about how the exam is conducted. I have covered it in the Part 1 and 2 so look it up there. The buzzer very calming one, like lullaby.
You’d be brought to your stations. If rest station – rest la
Now if you start off with a task station here are some tips
Close your eyes breathe in and out deeply 3-5 times – calms you down – not some new age shit – this actually works
The question will come up in a screen. You have 2 minutes. Take your time to read it and digest it. Find out what the task wants and FOCUS on it
Plan what you want to do. If its history – SOCRATES, PE – picture in your mind the steps, management – think of the words you want to use when talking to the patient, dan sebagainya
The examiner will not talk or prompt you. When you enter the room just greet with a friendly hello, show the examiner your badge, smile and be polite. That is all. No need to kiss ass. The patient should be your main concern
Always smile and show a friendly demeanour to the patient – Malaysians tend to not smile that often
Speak clearly – enunciate your words, hold off on the accent, don’t say lah
Wash your hands before and after every consultation
When you hear the 1 minute left buzzer – quickly finish whatever test you need to do
Once you finish your task thank the examiner and patient – then walk out
Most important step – forget about the station –
Don’t worry if you’ve done well or bad, you don’t have time for this and you cannot change your performance for the last station anyway. Your attention must be on the next task and smashing it.
Congratulations on finishing!
Good or bad it does not matter at this moment
You’ve done more than most people have at this point
It depends on what you want to do now
For me, after the exam I chose to spend a couple of days in Melbourne with my wife. We made it like a delayed honeymoon for both of us.
If you want to terus fly back – go ahead it’s up to you
The results will come out in a couple of weeks so all the best when it does!
It’s best to sit for the clinical exams immediately after your MCQ. Your knowledge would still be fresh.
The best way to prepare for this exam is to have your resources
In my experience I used
AMC Clinical Handbook
Past year questions
Talley O’Connor book (mine was an ebook)
Murtagh General Practice
Facebook Page: AMC Clinical
Youtube videos – geeky medics
Good study partner(s)
This list is not by any means exhaustible. Some went for courses. I do not have experience in them because I never signed up for them. There are many around and I suggest you read the reviews before deciding on signing up for it. It does cost a lot of money.
AMC Clinical handbook
Price AUD 275
Definitely a must. You need to finish this book cover to cover. It is not just reading it, you need to practice the questions with a partner.
At least 1-2 of these questions will come out in the exam.
Now the tasks asked of you during this exam would be:
History taking station
Physical examination station
Diagnostic formulation station
Sometimes they will combine the tasks.
i.e. take history and counsel the patient
An example of a question is as below
Candidate Information and Tasks
You are working in a GP. Your next patient is a 26 year old woman who has been sent to see you because she had positive hep C when she attended a blood donation drive. She was advised to see the doctor regarding this result. The other bloods for hep B and HIV was negative.
Your tasks are
Take a relevant history
Advise about subsequent management
*taken from AMC clinical handbook
The candidate only sees this.
The role player has her own script – on the answer index
The examiner will have their own checklist and mark you accordingly
This is an excellent resource for you to use. Remember to be economic in your words. Do not use jargon. Always reassure the patient. Never be a hero. Always seek help. If you don’t know – refer the patient to someone who knows. Do not miss life-threatening conditions.
Time yourself with each station. Even if you are given 10 minutes for each station, 2 minutes is for reading. 8 minutes is not 8 minutes. You have to appear friendly, calm and be ready to build a rapport with the patient. – this takes 1 minute or so. You need to complete your tasks before the bell rings.
So when you are practicing, give yourself 7 minutes instead of 8. Trust me you’d be surprised to see how time flies
A must in my opinion
Who is Karen?
I don’t know
All I know is that she took the time to write down all the important topics that can be asked in an exam with the answers.
You can get Karen’s notes by joining the AMC Clinical group page
Or if you rajin you Google to cari it.
Karen’s notes is written in a dialogue form
As in as if you are speaking to the patient
This is very important as she uses layman terms. You can learn how to speak to Australian patients this way. Australian patients (all patients actually) need a lot of reassurance. Do not scold them, do not talk down to them. Do not scare them. At the same time do not give false hope.
Difficult right? That’s why you need to practice.
You can use Karen’s notes as a guide to see where you are weak at.
It is written sometime in 2014-2015. So, some of the info can be outdated. Cross reference it with John Murtagh.
Past Year Questions (Recalls)
You can find them on the facebook group page.
A recall is when a candidate has sat for the test, remembered the questions asked and how they answered it. Usually they would have their results on whether they passed or not before writing the recall. So you’d know which station they failed or passed in.
How important is this? Very important
Good recalls is the difference between a pass and a fail
There is only so much they can test you on
AMC will recycle the questions so don’t be surprised if you see 5-7 same ones come up again.
Find a recall of someone who passed every station (or just plain pass the exam la) and read how they answered the questions.
Remember during time of stress, they might remember things wrongly. So don’t bulat-bulat memorise their answers.
Take it with a pinch of salt
But what they may lack in quality they make up for it in sheer quantity of questions.
They can be years’ worth of recall.
To save time, my advice is to do at least 6 months’ worth of recall. If you have more time do more but 6 months is adequate.
This is an Australian Clinical Exam text book – mine I got from ebook
Best to read through it to brush up your physical exam/history taking skills
By now you should be competent in taking history and performing a good PE
But do not take this for granted
Practice them till you can recall it in your sleep
This will help you when you start working as a doctor here
Murtagh General Practice
Use this to cross reference stuff. Do not waste time going through the whole book again. Be selective of what you want to read
Facebook Group Page: AMC Clinical
You need to be invited to join this group
Obey their rules
You will find all sorts of important resources here
You can also find people who will be your study buddy
Use our modern gadgets to your advantage
Skype with them to practice the “talking stations” (of course cannot do PE over Skype la)
If I knew about this page earlier I may have passed the exam the 1st time round rather than having to go through the retest
Geeky Medics – Youtube
Made by a bunch of UK students
Very grateful for them
Learn how they examine the patient
Especially how they talk to the patient
If you feel sien reading stuff, instead of watching youtube videos of cats, watch Geeky Medics
Other stuff of youtube – look for how to do mental health interview for schizophrenic, depression, bipolar, anxiety patients – bread and butter for psych – very good resource available
You partner must be dedicated
Time is very important
No use having your kaki that is not serious and waste time
Practice all the questions with each other
Even being a role player/examiner you can learn things
Focus on passing the exam together
I had wonderful study partners. All of us promised to help each other pass. My wife helped enormously as well by being role player.
Remember though, we are human. Sometimes the study partner needs a rest. Even if you are ready to go, be considerate to your buddy. Belanja makan la after practice. It is good for your mental health as well
Finally before we end this entry:
This exam is not just about knowledge. You need to be able to communicate well.
As Malaysians, these are a few issues we have when consulting a patient with an English speaking background
Our English is not that great – even when we think it is
Our accent is too thick la
We speak too fast
We give too much information and use jargon
We don’t understand Australian idioms – “I feel crook this arvo, so I called the ambos” – actual Aussie quote
What is accepted in Malaysia is not accepted in Australia and vice-versa
So my advice for you is this. Record yourself speaking then play it back. You will be surprised how different you sound. Listen to how good English speakers talk. Enunciate the works properly. Take your time in pronouncing each word. This is not an English test, but if they cannot understand you, you will not get the marks. Learn some of the Aussie idioms. Get use to their accents – you will be hearing it for years. You don’t have to sound like Crocodile Dundee or Steve Irwin but it will help you understand your patients better.
Alright, you bought your books, done your revision, tried the questions and you feel you are ready to sit for the MCQ.
The next step in your journey is to book your exam.
You will need to go to your AMC portfolio and select a date and time for your exam.
I would suggest booking it a few months in advance, this will give you ample time to request for leave and get better deals on flight and accommodation.
Now, Malaysia does not run AMC exams.
The nearest centre would be in Singapore.
Other centres in the SEA region are Bangkok.
I chose Singapore for these reasons:
Same time zone
We speak the same language
Good public transport (need to be on time)
Safe (cannot stress this enough)
Food almost the same like ours (and clean also)
Roaming services available for Malaysian numbers
You can go to Bangkok and other regions. It’s up to you to pick what is best for you. Going to Singapore to sit for my exams for me was so that I can take the mental load off worrying about non-exam factors and just focus on the MCQ.
Unless you know Singapore very well, I advise you to fly (or drive if you are from Johore) at least 2 days before the exam. Know your logistics well. Know where the train stops are, what the traffic is like, food etc.
Pick a hotel nearest to the test centre. Get a comfortable hotel (of course not a presidential suite in the 4 Seasons la), you need good rest before the exam and last minute revision if you need to.
Take your meals at least 2 hours before the exam. You probably will not have appetite to eat, but you need to. The exam is 3.5 hours and they do not allow food in the test centre. Eat something filling but will not make your sluggish. Dial back on the coffee if you really do need it. Coffee -> diuretic-> pee-> time take out of exam.
Morning of the exam, don’t do anymore revision. You done what you can, close the book and relax your mind. Picture yourself passing the test. This is a very important visual cue. Do whatever relaxes you. Deep breathing, stretching, walking, gaming or whatever.
Always arrive at the test centre 1 hour – 45 minutes before the exam. Report yourself to the counter and you can breathe a little easier.
Now the test has started. You will be in a booth. In that booth you will be in front of a computer. They will provide you with ear plugs if you need it. Answer all the questions the best you can. Don’t worry any negative marking.
3.5 hours later
Ok you’re done!
Congratulations on finishing the exam.
Now don’t think about the exam for now. There is time for that later.
Go ahead and enjoy yourself.
Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.
You still have a long way to go. For now, have fun.
The results should be available within 2 weeks. (at least during my time)
If you passed good! Well done! Now you can think about the Clinical Exams!
If you did not pass, its alright. Take time to reflect where you went wrong. Review your exam results and see where your weak points are and work harder on them. The good thing about this exam is that they give you feedback on areas your performed poorly. I know you can pass it the next time round! Stay positive!
I will talk about the AMC Clinical Exam in my next entry.
If you have any questions you can ask in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them.