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The First Steps

First you need to go to the AHPRA website (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).

https://www.ahpra.gov.au/

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.

  1. Limited registration – only practice in the designated area with supervision. i.e Hospital A or Clinic B only
  2. 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)
  3. 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.

https://www.amc.org.au/

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

  1. 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.

Summary

  1. AHPRA – check if your medical degree is recognised or not
  2. AMC – read the overview of assessment pathways
  3. EPIC – apply to get your credentials verified
  4. AMC portfolio
  5. Start preparing for AMC exams

Living in Australia: The First Few Months

Hello again,

I hope you are having a good weekend

I have talked about exams, finding a job and a short introduction of working as a doctor in Australia

This time around I would like to write about the first few months living in Australia

When I first came to Australia, I spent most of my money on the exams and flights

I got a job in regional Queensland

I saved up as much as I could.

My credit card was almost maxed out paying for the expenses mentioned above

I was travelling with my wife who also had some savings aside

We pooled our resources together

Accommodation

My employers offered us lodging for a month until we found a new place

We took full advantage of it

We stayed there shorter than we anticipated because we found a good deal on a semi-furnished house. By then we were already earning salaries so we could afford to move out.

In the first few years in Australia, you will be moving around a lot. So, it does not make sense for you to buy a house unless you are 100% sure you want to commit to the place.

Rent is paid weekly

The cost of rent depends on where you are. In ulu places, its cheaper compared to the city.

One good site I would recommend is this

https://www.realestate.com.au/rent/

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.

Transportation

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.

Hiring cars would cost even more money.

So, we decided to buy a used car.

We went to this website https://www.gumtree.com.au/cars

  • 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.

Image result for nissan tiida

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.

Food

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

Groceries

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.

Sunbeam SecretChef 5.5L Slow Cooker

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.

So many recipes are available. I got mine from:

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g1903/slow-cooker-recipes/

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.

Internet

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)

Entertainment

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.

Exercise

You have time to exercise.

Australians pride themselves on being active.

There are tonnes of gyms out there.

I chose Jetts Gym that offers 24 hour services

https://www.jetts.com.au/

Working out is one of the subjects I can spend the whole day on.

I may write an entry dedicated to weightlifting another time.

Ok I hope this gives you a short glimpse of how its like here in Australia in the first few months.

Till next time!

Enjoy your weekend!

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 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

Working Hours

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.

Career Longevity

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

Professionalism

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

Till then, stay positive!

General Registration

Hi there,

I’m back to writing after being on-call for one week.

Now I have written previously about the different types of medical registration in Australia

To practice medicine you need to be registered.

In terms of the limited registration, I am only going to talk about registration for area of need i.e. areas lacking doctors

Type of RegistrationWho is it forWhere can you work
LimitedIMGs who do not qualify for general/specialist registrationGiven to IMGs  who passed AMC part 1 + completed internship/housemanship + secured a job in Australia  

Can only work at the designated area of need  
Provisionalmedical graduates who got their degree from NZ, Aus, UK or any other med school recognised by AHPRAIf you graduated from UK or hold a Monash Medical degree you can apply for this + secured a job  

Would have a designated place for supervised training  
GeneralIMGs who passed AMC part 1+2 and completed 47 weeks of supervised training*Can work anywhere in Australia depending on your visa status

Now what is supervised training?

It is their version of housemanship.

You need to be offered a job first. So look at my previous job on how to find a job here

https://doctorhornbill.org/2020/01/02/finding-a-job/

How long is it for?

It is for 47 week duration after taking away your 5 week leave.

You get hired on a contract basis for 52 weeks

You are allowed 5 weeks of recreational leave in those 52 weeks

Depending on how fast you want to complete your supervised training, you can choose to forgo your leave to the very end.

What are the compulsory rotations?

You need to have

Medicine8 weeks
Surgery/Orthopaedics8 weeks
Emergency Department10 weeks

The rest can be made up of what you fancy.

If you are going the GP route, you’d want to have exposure in Paeds, Obs/Gyn and even more ED postings are excellent

It really depends on what you want to specialise in really

Once you have the AMC certificate + completed the compulsory rotations, get your admin staff to provide the necessary paperwork and it will be sent off to AHPRA

Take into consideration that it will take a few months to process it so do it as soon as you can to avoid any delays to your life plans.

Once you’ve gotten a general registration you can work anywhere in Australia.

In my next blog I will write about how life is like as a RMO in Australia.

Have a good week ahead!

Saving Money for the AMC Exams

Our MYR is weak

There are a lot of reasons why it is weak; however this blog is not a political blog or a finance blog.

I will leave the explanation to people with better knowledge on the topic.

What I do want to talk about is this.

The AMC exams are expensive.

Flights and accommodation will cost you money too.

How do you save enough money without going bankrupt?

Now, we are all in different stages in our lives.

Some of you may be in your mid to late 20s, others in their 30s and some even in their 40s.

You may already be married, with or without children.

You may already own property.

You may have parents who are loaded.

You may have parents or siblings to support.

What I’m getting here is this: There is no cookie-cutter way to save money.

I will share with you what works for me to save money.

Some parts may not be suitable for you and some will.

Just take whatever you need from this blog and if you have any other ideas on saving money, share it in the comments below.

Alright, let’s begin.

In my previous entry I’ve listed the fees for the exams etc

To save time I will share it here in this blog – (as of 2/1/2020)

EPIC accountAUD 307
AMC portfolioAUD 500
AMC MCQAUD 2720
AMC ClinicalAUD 3530
TotalAUD  7057

Resources for exam revision

John MurtaghAUD 145
AMC MCQ handbookAUD 275
AMC Clinical HandbookAUD 275
AMC MCQ online question bankAUD 159
TotalAUD 854

Grand Total = AUD 7911

After conversion to MYR = RM 22625.46 (1 AUD = 2.86 MYR) – rate 2/1/2020

I did not include my flight prices as it may have changed since then but based on the prices available today:

Flight RM 3000-4000 (two way) – to Singapore (MCQ exam) and Australia (CE) – depend if you book very early and off season.

Accommodation – MYR 215 – 315 a night (Melbourne – near NTC)

If I included flight, accommodation and food, the cost can easily reach MYR 30000

Oh BTW, you also have to pay for working visa (another confusing subject I will talk to you about in another entry)

Jia lat lor! How to afford so much ?!

That was what went through my mind as well

But I knew I could earn that back within 2-3 months while working in Australia when I earn their currency

First I shall teach you to save

When I decided to migrate to Australia in 2016, I was earning UD48 pay earning MYR 75000 per annum after tax and EPF

I was already married at the time but no children

I had financial commitments too i.e. MYR 2000 plus a month

It was hard to save money as cost of living was rising in Malaysia but it can be done.

I made a list on things I can live without

  1. Drinking in pub
  2. Eating out at fancy restaurant
  3. Buying expensive designer clothes
  4. Going on expensive holidays
  5. Buying a new car
  6. Expensive wedding – honestly this is the best thing I did not spend money on
  7. Buying new handphone/laptop/tv
  8. Using my credit card for non-important purchases
  9. Buying luxury groceries

I should have done this when I started working back in 2010. I could have saved more.

Anyway, no more YOLO for now.

I then made a list of things I can do to save money/make money

  • Cook at home
    • Trust me this saves the most money
    • Invest in a slow cooker – this will save you loads of time
    • Make a lot of food at one go and deep freeze it so you can eat it for the rest of the week
    • There are a lot of slow cooker recipes online for delicious food with affordable groceries
    • This is the single most worthwhile investment you can make. I bought one the moment I came to Australia
  • Locum
    • Most locums in Malaysia pay MYR 40-50 an hour. Just do it
    • Overnight shifts are the best if you work in KK – can study at night too
    • Trust me an extra couple hundred a month is worth it
  • Doing extra calls
    • At MYR 200 a night – meh might not be worth it, but if you are based in the hospital and you can’t get locum jobs this is the next best thing
    • This can bring you extra RM 800-1000 per month depending how busy you are
  • Use account B on EPF
    • We cannot touch account A till we are 55 years old
    • We can however play with account B
    • Use account B to pay your monthly mortage instalments if you own a house
    • You can also use account B to pay for other things – refer to their website
    • optimise where your money will go to
  • Put aside a fixed amount of your income specifically for exam fees/books
    • Every month I put aside at least MYR 2500 – but this depends on you really
  • Pay off credit card as soon as you can
    • Interest rates at 9-15% are no joke
    • As soon as you pay for your exam fees – do your very best to pay off what you owe your bank

This list is of course not a be all and end all. It worked for me. It may or may not work for you. But I do hope I help put some things in perspective.

If you have any more ideas on how to save money to migrate please share in the comment section below!

Till next time!

Stay positive!

Finding A Job

Ok so now you’ve sit for your AMC exams and want to find job in Australia

Passing AMC does not mean you get a job automatically

You will still need to go hunting for one

*Unlike when I got a job from KKM, the interview was just a formality – JPA gave permanent posts back in 2010*

Where do you apply?

Now it depends on whether you just passed your MCQ or both the MCQ and CE.

You can still apply for work with just passing MCQ. But do try to pass your CE ASAP it will make a difference.

I will be writing this based on my experience

I passed the MCQ in late 2017. I failed my first attempt CE in April 2018 but was offered a retest.

I was advised by a senior of mine to try to apply for a job first, learn how the system worked and sit for my exam at a later time.

I passed my retest in 2019 and got my certificate, and applied for general registration.

Continuing on.

A few websites were recommended to me, the one I liked was

https://www.medrecruit.com/international-doctor-jobs

You can also go to each state and see if any vacancies are advertised there

The job titles are different in each state

In Queensland:

Intern – obviously you cannot apply for this

Resident Medical Officer (RMO) – Junior house officer (JHO) or senior house officer (SHO)

Principal House Officer (PHO) – like a registrar but not in training programme.

Registrar – for those in training programmes

Clinical specialist/Consultants/Senior medical officer  – this one not really important in our discussion

For your purpose – if you are going through the Standard Pathway – look for the RMO openings

Preparing your CV

Your CV is important

Don’t anyhow write stuff

There is a format for this

https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registration-Process/Standard-Format-for-Curriculum-Vitae.aspx

You need to follow this format otherwise they will not entertain you

Get more information

My experience is unique to me. Yours will be too. Although there will be a lot of similarities, we will encounter things differently.

So ask around if you personally know any colleagues who have migrated from Malaysia after completing housemanship. Dig their brains. They will be happy to help you out.

Know the working hours, environment, type of people you will be treating

Learn where they are short of staff and need people to fill in vacancies

I myself had amazing advice from my friends who migrated here earlier than I have.

This advice is extremely valuable

Most importantly, once you’ve made it, don’t be selfish with knowledge. Help them as you have received help yourself.

Where to apply to

Australia still has shortages in rural and regional areas

Read up on the Monash Modified Model (MMM)

https://www.health.gov.au/health-workforce/health-workforce-classifications/modified-monash-model

it’s a way they identify areas which are urban, regional or rural

i.e. Brisbane would be MMM 1 – urban. Hervey Bay MMM2 – regional, Biggenden MMM 5 – rural

Kesimpulanya – the higher the MMM score the more ulu

Where you pick would depend on your preferences of lifestyle.

I would advise to try the regional and rural areas. Better quality of life. Easier when you apply for PR too. 

Interview

Ok you scored an interview – Hurrah!

Prepare for it now

There are tonnes of websites that help you prepare for the interview

https://www.locumleaders.com/news/career-tips/medical-job-interview-tips-for-physicians-and-clinicians/

I recommend this one above

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

Results

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

All the best and have a positive mindset!

AMC Clinical Exam: Part 3

Welcome back!

Let us recap

You’ve passed AMC MCQ exam.

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

  1. Do not book your leave and plane tickets before you get your exam date. Otherwise it will give you more headaches
  2. AMC will release the dates of the available slots monthly. They will post the date and the time when you can book your exam.
  3. On the day the dates are to be revealed, take leave or call in late to work – this is very important.
    1. The dates will be snapped up within minutes and you will have to wait for the next month before you can try again.
      1. (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 )
    1. 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
    1. 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.

Travelling

As mentioned earlier. They only centre available is in Melbourne.

Australian Medical Council’s Vernon C Marshall National Test Centre (NTC) in Melbourne

Flights:

I strongly advise you to book your flight 2-3 days before your exam.

What is that? Expensive you say?

This is why:

  1. 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)
  2. 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?

SIM Card

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.

Apps

Make sure you have these apps on your phone

  1. Uber – Aussie no Grab, ok
  2. UberEats – very helpful if you malas go out
  3. 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.

Food

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

Exam itself

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

  1. Close your eyes breathe in and out deeply 3-5 times – calms you down – not some new age shit – this actually works
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Always smile and show a friendly demeanour to the patient – Malaysians tend to not smile that often
  6. Speak clearly – enunciate your words, hold off on the accent, don’t say lah
  7. Wash your hands before and after every consultation
  8. When you hear the 1 minute left buzzer – quickly finish whatever test you need to do
  9. Once you finish your task thank the examiner and patient – then walk out
  10. 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.

Finish Exam

You’re done!

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!

After this I will write about how to get a job!

Till next time

Bye!

AMC: Clinical Exam – Part 2

AMC Clinical Part 2

Let’s get started.

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

  1. AMC Clinical Handbook
  2. Karen’s notes
  3. Past year questions
  4. Talley O’Connor book (mine was an ebook)
  5. Murtagh General Practice
  6. Facebook Page: AMC Clinical
  7. Youtube videos – geeky medics
  8. 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

Management/counselling/education 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

Karen’s notes

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.

Talley O’Connor

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

Study Partner

Needed. Absolutely.

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

  1. Our English is not that great – even when we think it is
  2. Our accent is too thick la
  3. We speak too fast
  4. We give too much information and use jargon
  5. We don’t understand Australian idioms – “I feel crook this arvo, so I called the ambos” – actual Aussie quote
  6. 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.

AMC: Clinical Exams – Part 1

AMC Clinical Part 1

Hello again,

Congratulations in passing your MCQ!

Ok I will write about the Clinical exams in this post.

The exam itself costs AUD 3530

More information of the fees will be listed in their website.

The only test centre available is in Melbourne Victoria.

Our MYR right now is very weak. You have to save quite a bit before attempting this exam. It can be done.  I can write about how to save in a different post.

It lasts for 3 hours and 20 minutes

This exam consists of 16 stations

  1. 14 scored stations
  2. 2 pilot (non-scored stations) – like the MCQ you will not know which ones are cored and which are not

You are given 2 minutes to read the instructions for the stations before entering the room. After you enter the room you have 8 minutes to complete the task asked of you

Rest stations are allocated in between stations. These rests are 10 minutes long too.

The disciplines they will test would be

  1. Medicine
  2. Surgery
  3. O&G
  4. Paeds
  5. Psych

The task asked of you will be mixed. I will elaborate further in my later posts.

You will need to pass at least 10/14 to get an overall pass.  The passing mark before this was 11/14. Don’t sigh in relief just yet. You will know why later.

Obviously 9 or less out of 14 is a fail

During my time, they did offer a retest if you scored a 10, but not anymore.

In my opinion, retests are easier to pass. I passed the retest.

They consisted of 8 stations (all scored) and you have to pass 6 of them to get a pass.

The official reason why AMC changed this was that candidates were taking a long time between their 1st attempt and the retest.

We can’t do anything about the retest for now. Let us focus on the exam itself.

AMC does not post the number of candidates who passed or failed on their website currently.

They did so previously.

The passing rate is indeed low  (15-25%). It is a challenging exam but it can be done. Remember be positive. Tackle one issue at a time. I am here to help you.

In Summary

  1. AMC Clinical exams cost AUD 3530
  2. Test centre is in Melbourne Victoria
  3. 20 stations in total with each station lasting 10 minutes.
    1. 14 scored stations,
    1. 2 non-scored stations
    1.  4 rest stations
  4. Passing mark is 10/14
  5. No retests
  6. Passing rate 15-25%

Now that you have an idea what AMC clinicals are, the next post is how you can prepare for the exam.

AMC: MCQ Exam – Part 3

AMC MCQ Part 3

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:

  1. Same time zone
  2. We speak the same language
  3. Good public transport (need to be on time)
  4. Safe (cannot stress this enough)
  5. Food almost the same like ours (and clean also)
  6. 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.

Till next time!

AMC: MCQ Exam – Part 2

AMC MCQ Exam: Part 2

Ok so how do we prepare for this?

You will need to have these resources to prepare for your exams.

  1. Murtagh General Practice
  2. AMC MCQ handbook
  3. Online question banks

Murtagh General Practice

Regardless if you want to do GP or not, this book is a must.

Remember, you are going to practice in Australia. John Murtagh’s book is an excellent resource of how things are done in Australia. Order this book via Amazon or go to Kamal and buy it. If you are the type that can read on tablet/computer, get the electronic version. There are even some sites that allow you to download free copies (I will not reveal it in this blog – you cari sendiri)

Price: AUD 145 (plus minus)

Disclaimer – I bought my book from Kamal.

I read this book at least twice before attempting to do the questions.

It helped that I was doing KK at the time so I was killing two birds with one stone.

It does not matter if you have been a super senior MO in whatever discipline you are now, in order to pass this test you need to be well rounded. You need to identify your own weak areas and work on it.

Medicine is vast. No one can learn about everything. But when it comes to exams you got to be smart. They are not assessing you as a consultant/specialist. What they want, is a safe doctor who can recognise dangerous situations and call for help. No hero/heroine here.

Now using my experience, I am surgically inclined. I am quite solid in general surgery, ENT and plastics because I have been a MO in those fields. I am weak in the rest of the disciplines. I identified O&G to be my weakest. Adult medicine and paediatrics are big, big topics to cover. This is how I prioritised my revision.

  1. O&G
  2. Population Health
  3. Mental health
  4. Paeds
  5. Medicine
  6. Surgery

Remember common things are common. Don’t be too focused on rare paediatric conditions. Know they exist, know how it’s inherited and move on.

My second round revision was faster. I took a calculated decision to skip certain topics that I felt I was confident in and doubled down on the ones I was weak in.

I even wrote my own mini notes to help me remember.

Once you’ve finished reading, do practice questions. Don’t go sit for exam straight away. Chances of passing would be low.

AMC MCQ Handbook

Definitely a must.

600 plus questions + answers + explanation

Price AUD 275

There are sample questions on the AMC website. It was free during my time in 2017, not sure about that now.

Again you can get it from AMC website, Kamal or get an electronic version online.

I used the hardcopy, because I like to write my own notes.

My opinion, finish the MCQ book first before purchasing online questions.

You can return to the questions again if it helps you with your confidence.

Each question has its explanation in the answer session. So you are learning as well.

Do not feel bad if you did not score well the first time. You will get better over time.

AMC MCQ Online Questions

I strongly recommend it

Several question banks are out there

I chose www.amcquestionbank.com

They divided the questions according to topic. If you feel like doing some paeds just click on the filter and it will only give you paeds questions.

Like the handbook it will give you an explanation in the end.

It shows the percentage of questions you got right so you can focus on your weakness.

However I would need to advise you that not all the explanations are right. If you feel the explanation is funny, cross reference it with Murtagh.  Otherwise it is a reliable tool for self-assessment.

Depending on how far your exams are, you can plan your subscription. i.e one month, three months etc.

I picked the 6 months subscription – AUD 159

Summary

Best preparation tools

  1. John Murtagh General Practice – AUD 145
  2. AMC Handbook – AUD 275
  3. AMC question bank (optional but highly recommended)  – price depending on length of subscription

Tips

  1. Focus on your weaknesses and prioritise them first
  2. Become a well rounder in terms of clinical knowledge
  3. Have a positive mindset

In my next entry I will write about how to prepare for the days leading to the exam itself.

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