Monday, June 18, 2007

Afternoon Thoughts

I took this picture a couple of days ago. It was a beautiful sunny day, clear blue skies. This airplane was cruising 30,000 feet above me.
I sometimes catch myself thinking. Are there people from my home in that plane? Anyone perhaps flying to or from Malaysia? Wouldn't it be nice if I were there? I wonder if there is anyone onboard, looking down and wondering how it would to live here.
For what it's worth, I'm contend with life here. But I do miss home still. All you people.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a protégée of mine. "Should I specialize in the US?" She was torn between returning home to Malaysia after graduation, or staying on for post-grad training.
Something I get asked at least several times a month by blog readers.

Unfortunately, I have no magic answer. I wish it was as simple as that. True, the residency system here is geared towards teaching and training. True, you'll get to practice medicine in a way that probably is not possible in Malaysia, unless you work in a private hospital. True, you don't waste time, and get to be, say a consultant plastic surgeon 5 years after graduation. True, inflation isn't half as bad as Malaysia (you can buy a new Honda Accord with 4-5 months' salary as a junior HO!).
But grass isn't always greener on the other side.
The way I see it, when one picks to specialize here, one sacrifices a lot in the name of career. It's possibly one of those life-altering decisions. After working overseas for 10 years, can one ever adapt to return home? And there is a good chance you meet your life partner here; will you ever want to settle down at home then? Will you ever get to enjoy those simple pleasures in life, like taking a short drive to meet with school friends at the nearby mamak? Or go for an evening stroll with mom and dad? Watch your nephew learn a new game?
No, the grass isn't greener on the other side. The truth is, you sacrifice some wherever you go. You'll have things to complain about where you end up. And there will be benefits regardless of whether one works.
So, that question has no one answer. One just has to decide what one wants out of life, personally and professionally.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, been reading ur blog for some time now and found some of your insights pretty profound. BTW i'm mikael, student from IMU now FY1(HO) in Manchester UK. Don't have much impression of the health care system in the states but i have recently watched a documentary by Michael Moore "Sicko". Would love to hear your 2 cents worth.

5:55 AM  
Blogger Yong Wuu said...

gain some and lose some...

I don't know the answer .... eventhough I had gone through both - service in Malaysia and seeking training elsewhere which is much easier...

Less pay and uncertainity of your career path is what I experienced while servicing with the MOH, but I was happy - I was near with my family, I took care of them - I was the family doctor...
Now in Taiwan - everything is fine with my career... but from time to time I could do nothing for my family when they were father hypertension was badly control by the local Klinik kesihatan, my brother-in-law suffering from acute nephritic syndrome was discharge with oral medication by some medical specialist...I am frustrated when these incidents happened....

what is the good if you are a doctor but you can't help your family ? that is what I occasionally felt..
I am not sure what will be my choice if I have the chance to choose again between MMed and going back to Taiwan for specialist training...

But I will still advice fellow Malaysian doctors to complete their specialist training before going back to Malaysia..

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi there, been reading your blog for sometime. what you have written is very true. there is always something that one has to sacrifice when doing postgrad medicine.
i have been thru both myself, done the MMed locally and am currently in UK, having finished the UK/Irish postgrad exams. one thing i am very sure is that UK training and working life is not for me, i am somewhat disappointed with the training here in Belfast. i feel that it is unstructured and overseas doctors are mainly to do the 'donkey' work. the pay is good though. even so, the pull to go home is strong despite all the problems in malaysia. so, i will be leaving for singapore for some subspecialization before heading home for good. i am not sure of the training in US, australia or NZ but i feel UK is going downhill.
i totally agree with you,that it is best to finish your postgrad training overseas if you can, before you go home. otherwise, you may be sutck in the peripheries and in a system that continuously frustrates you and do not help you with your postgrad plans. so much so that some drs will just quit in frustration and never reach their goals. i got lucky, i must say, but things have changed and masters is getting really hard to get.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous ginger said...

It's not easy for the parents and loved ones too....knowing that you reside in a country so far away. I am sure they miss you a lot too.
I guess life is about making choices.

1:56 AM  

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