It is true that you may not get which hospital you asked for (housemanship, MOship onwards). You may apply for metropolitan KL but the government wants you to serve in Sandakan. That does not mean you should give up asking. Before applying for the hospital you desire, it’s imperative that you consider all factors:
- Family and Personal Issues: This is the most important factor in determining Malaysian medical students’ application for housemanship. Some people want to be near their family and some people consider the significant other. Although we try to be “strong” doctors when it comes to how long we work and stay in the hospital, we have to think about our families. Most of us will have loved ones back home who miss us and don’t like us spending thirty-six hours without seeing us or being apart in two different cities.
- Career goals: If your goal is academically-oriented, then it’s best for you to apply to teaching hospitals affiliated with local medical institutions. Usually these are the people who like teaching, research, presentations and conference besides treating the patients. On the other hand, if your goal is to do community service, the options are much wider, especially after the 2-years of housemanship where you can apply for posting in district or rural areas.
- Workload: This is totally dependent on the hospital and its departments. Some departments make the doctors do more on calls. In some hospitals in KL, housemen can do limited procedures (because MOs and registrars are competing for the procedures) while in East Malaysia housemen can do procedures that are supposed to be done by specialists, beyond the scope of houseman training. I do not know if it is still true for today though. The best way to figure this out is to ask doctors of the particular hospital, best if they are from your medical school.
- Locations: This can be a straightforward variable in your decision making process, but many applicants do not analyze all the advantages and disadvantages of a specific location. What is there to do in the city? Do they have access to beaches if you are into scuba-diving? Do they have shopping malls if you like retail therapy? If these or other questions such as these are important to you, then take time to consider them carefully. Remember there is life outside of the hospital.
- Rural posting: Some people avoid small town like the plague, because of lacking access to internet services, entertainments, night life etc. Moreover, demographics in a smaller town limit the spectrum of clinical practice and experience. People who love community service prefer small towns over big cities. For those who are looking for adventures and thrills of clinical practice, try Sabah and Sarawak. After completion of 2-year housemanship, apply for rural posting.
- Cost: It’s all about how much you make? vs how much you spend? If you’re a Kelantanese and would like to work in sky-high cost of living metropolitan KL, you’re probably going to spend more than you’d spend in Kelantan. On the other hand, a Johorean working in Sarawak is doing him/herself a great service financial-wise (additional elaun wilayah and elaun perumahan wilayah). There are also questions of real estate and investments. Read more here.
- Networking: Remember that you will be spending the next few years with a small group of people many of whom will become very close friends. Increasing contacts and networks might help you in your career. This really depend on your end-game. If you’d like to be a surgeon in Penang, then you probably should find your footing in Penang.