Saturday, August 05, 2006

Australian Quest...

I heard a very disturbing rumour/hearsay/fact from a particular someone who was equally disturbed after being told of the rumour/hearsay/fact by a doctor regarding so-called recent updates in the future of medical graduates from Australia. Pardon my mouthful of words as it really is bothering!!!

It goes like this: apparently for students who graduated from any Australian university (regardless of whether they managed to stay on in Australia or came back to Malaysia after graduation), should they later decide to get their specialist training/certification (MRCP, FRCS etc.) from the UK, they would NOT be accepted back to the Australia for work! Even the UK, who themselves certified the MRCP etc. holders will NOT accept the specialists for work in the UK.

The impression I got was that the moment you get your let say, FRCS from UK after 5 years you graduated from Australia, you turn into an outcast who is rejected by Australia and the UK.

I find little (and rather unacceptable) possible reasons for this phenomenon, if this is really true. Possibly, once you graduate from Australia, you are expected to do your postgrad training and certification in Australia itself and opting for the UK is a kind of insult to the Australian medical system. So therefore they refuse you for work in Australia as you are deemed a betrayer. But this is assuming that Australia has their OWN form of specialist training and certification that is just as recognised and reputable as the UK's version, to begin with. Or perhaps it could be some sort of protectionist policy, where holders of the Australian version of specialty certification are given higher priority in terms of job opportunities. This sounds like the Masters of Medicine certification which recognises the holder as a legal specialist in the country that issued it and are given a certain extent of protection in the country. I am not sure if this concept applies for the Australian version of certification, if there is one in the first place.

How about the fact that the UK doesn't allow specialists who were certified by them in the first place to practice in the UK? Could it be that they don't recognise medical graduates from Australia to start of with and thus even if a doctor got his FRCS from UK he is still deemed unfit to practice in the UK because he wasn't an MBBS grad from UK? Does this only apply to Aussie graduates or even those from other countries? Perhaps this is also another form of protectionism of UK graduated doctors; pretty much like how even US MDs are required to pass stringent exams to be admitted into the British Medical Association, never mind the fact that UK and Britain are best of friends. However the impression I got from the rumour/hearsay/fact was that you are totally deprived of the opportunity to work in the UK once you are an Aussie grad who got your specialist training from the UK. In short, if the story I heard is true, Aussie MBBS holders who get their specialist certification from the UK are considered unfit to practice in Australia and the UK. So you may go anywhere in the world that MAY take you in but NEVER in Australia or the UK (unless they are so desperate for doctors or they may take you in if you pass lots and lots of entrance exams).

The reason I find it a concern is because I myself intend to do exactly the same; to graduate from the University of Queensland, stay on with an attachment at a hospital and then get my FRCS in Orthopaedics from Edinburgh or wherever in the UK. Then either come back to Australia or Malaysia to work and spend the rest of my life. If what I heard is true, I will have to instead opt to do my specialist training in Australia (no more UK) or risk coming back to Malaysia. UK would be a definite no way too. But this is all fine if I am just prepared to screw Australia and UK and just come home work in KL or Kuching (yes, I like Kuching).

But IS IT TRUE THAT SUCH A FORM OF DISCRIMINATION/LEGISLATION/RUMOUR/FACT exists??? People who know more about this possibility please shed some light!!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Adventures across a latitude 2006: Kuching

Yes, the title is so resemblant of Grace's posts' titles of her travels overseas and since as you all know that I have returned from Grace's hometown (which is across the sea at the same latitude) I decided to so name this post.

However, I won't be doing the job of detailing every food that we ate in Kuching nor describing the great view atop a sea-front cliff; Instead of Elena and I coming up with two about similar posts about the 4 day trip, we have decided to combine our posts and put it up on HER blog. Yeah, so for the stories and pictures of our wonderful trip go pay her blog a visit.

So since she will be doing the academic part, allow me to go into the more sentimental and analytical part. As a whole, I came back to KL having only nice memories and pleasant aftertastes in my mouth. The trips around and away from Kuching was fun, the food was overflowing and definitely yummy. I just miss all the wonderful noodles there. Sarawak Laksa is very much different from the one that we used to have at C1-7-2, if you know what I mean. It's beautiful with tiger prawns and gravy that compliments perfectly with the noodles. The Kolo mee, having a Maggi mee texture with sweetness of Char Siew sauce. Just yummy. Not to forget the wonderful provincial food we had on the way back from the beach, and the extravagant Chinese Fusion dinner we had courtesy of Grace's parents. Ok let's stop here as I am already salivating from the cephalic phase of digestion... And did I mention earlier that food in Kuching is very cheap? RM 5 for a Laksa with 3 Tiger prawns, RM 2.20 for a standard one-size-fills-all Kolo mee. KL money goes a LOOOOooooooOOOOOOooooooOOOONNNNNG way there. Oh yeah.

Our stay at Kuching, albeit a bit too short, was used to the fullest. If we weren't scaling treacherous slopes and descending menacing downhills at the Bako national park, we would be eating or simply gossiping/discussing/sharing about many different topics. I really appreciate the effort and time that Grace spent on us inspite of the fact that she is soon to leave for overseas and hasn't finished packing. Her parents are equally commendable for personally taking the initiative to drive us miles and miles to the beach and for treating us to all the special food of Sarawak. Even her Standard 5 sister Serena was very sporting to mix with her elder sister's friends. So with her cool dad, super friendly mom and funny sister it was a nice combination of hospitality that we got. They really went all out to plan for us our day to day activities, ensuring we were well entertained. Haha. As I told Grace, I would definitely have not done the same for anyone else who came to KL because I am too lazy and too busy to drive around and show people places I have been before. It's really a shame, because even as her parents are both busy specialists they still go the extra mile to spend time with us, talk to us and make us feel at home. It certainly was a well worth trip to Kuching and the only regret is that we couldn't spend more time there. Of course that won't be too nice since she has to get packing to leave anyway.

Another interesting fact to note is that somehow when her batch people goes to her place some form of car related incidents happen. When Daniel and co went over few months back they were unfortunate to get into a minor accident and scuffle with some local treehouse idiots. This time when we were there, her Unser (the same vehicle involved in the earlier mentioned misfortune) stalled in the middle of the road when rain water got into her engine's carburetor. But thanks to some reading up of the car's manual we managed to get it up and running again. The following day, after the final lunch in Kuching, her other car got summoned for not putting up a payment coupon. Kuching??? Must pay parking??? If it was MPPJ it would have been maximum fine of RM300 for not displaying, but apparently in Kuching is less than RM 50. So I gladly gave her the money to get it settled. Oh well let's hope it stays this way and nothing worse happens...

Now here's a list of what I miss from the trip:

The beach, the Jungle, the view from the cliff, the boat ride, the FOOD!, the beautiful house, the Cat, the Dogs, the FOOD!, the whole experience, and of course, the wonderful company and fellowship that we had.

Big Thank You to Grace, Serena, Uncle Surgeon and Aunty Paediatrician, Duchess, Bella, and Lazy Cat. Loved the trip so much!!!

ps. Sheena, we weren't able to make it to Miri as our schedule was already packed with so many pre-arranged activities and in fact we didn't even see all of Kuching! We missed the museum visits and caves! Will see you at the airport lor...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Random Scribblings 2

Ok first up, apologies to Zen for quoting her as a gossiper with YP in my previous post. There can be two possibilities, which I will leave it to the readers to decide which is more likely to have happened:-

1) YP and Zen DID NOT gossip about anyone or anything. Just because I saw the two girls silently engaging in some gossip-like talking tone and atmosphere so I assumed they were gossiping;

2) YP and Zen DID gossip about somebody or something. But I am being a bit tactless here to kinda smear Zen's good image by actually posting it on my blog.

In any case, sorry to Zen for me quoting her in my previous blog in such a undesirable position.

***
If you guys have been reading Elena's blog you will then know that she has got a new toy called the PLAYSTATION PORTABLE/PSP. Great gadget I must say, and even non-gaming fans would marvel at its beautiful sight and curves. Not a cheap toy admittedly, but since I promised here to get it for her if she got an A for any exam (which she did get) I finally bought it last Thursday. It costed me quite a bit but it is worth while since it also coincides as her 21st birthday present. She is all happy with the PSP and thinking its by far the most valuable thing on Earth that she has received. But I can't say the same for her parents, who think I have just gotten her a device which will practically send her studies to the doldrums. But that's the only thing she likes!!! Tough, really.

And to echo her plea/avarice for enhancements for her new toy, she wants a 2GB Memory Stick and a couple UMD games for her birthday! So you figure out la, either pool money or ask her new brother buy for her la. Her 21st birthday is on the 26th of July, ie this Wednesday!

***
Been thinking hard on which PDA or PDA-phone I should get my hands on. Well you see I am quite a fickle minded person, not that it's my nature, but rather I keep changing my decisions when I read reviews or comments on forums about the gadget I am eyeing. First it was the HP IPAQ rw6828 PDA-phone, then I dumped it and looked at the XDA 2 Atom, then the Atom Pure, then the Palm TX, then Treo 650, then Palm TX, XDA 2 Mini, back to TX... I dunno what to get!!!!! Rajinder thinks I am too fickle minded and have too much money to spend, but there is only one thing I am aiming for --- no matter what PDA type I get, it MUST be able to use cracked Skyscape medical programs! Newer Pocket PC version WM5 hasn't been able to be cracked, 2003 PPC is too old, Palm is too simple IMHO... So I will just continue debating with myself. Sigh...

***
JPA is offering a 200k loan to students who are doing twinning programs at the tertiary level apparently. Those doing medicine are given first priority for consideration followed by dentistry, pharmacy etc etc. There are a list of criteria in the website but generally if you have been doing well in IMU you should apply for it. Repayment depends on your contract, ie either 10 year bond to forfeit the loan, full repayment, or 75% discount if you do well in your second part. Btw, the max loan amount is only for your tuition fees. Living costs is on you. In any case I see it as a very good opportunity to lighten the burden of middle class households like mine and to enjoy being viewed as being affliated to the JPA. HAHA! Those interested can go visit the official JPA website and look for the loans tab. It's all in BM so YP get your maid to help you translate k.

***
Going with Elena to Kuching this Thursday evening to visit Grace, and hopefully Sheena in her Treehouse. All excited since we have never stepped foot in East Malaysia. Hopefully we can be lucky enough to see and taste and feel all the essence of Catland within the few days we are there. But it's actually more of catching up and bonding with her in her last few days left before she leaves on the 20th of August. So big thank you to Grace for letting us put up with you.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Random Scribblings...

Too little time, too many things to say. So when I FINALLY get the time to blog, this is what you get --- little bit of everything.

First things first, I am going to Cat Land to visit Grace! Yay! My first trip to East Malaysia and first time on AirAsia! (It costs me RM 320 for a return flight) I will be going there at the end of this month to see for myself if there are really treehouses from which some of my friends live in and swing around. Not to mention San Francisco kopitiam which one dear friend of mine has been working at (too obvious...). Anyway, thanks to Grace and her hospitality, Elena and I shall be putting up at her big house and having makan times with her specialist parents. Oooh that's so cool man... Will post up pics when I return, hopefully.

***
Met up with the YeeP! last Thursday at Mid Valley to sama-sama watch the Pirates of Caribean. While it was fun to meet up with her and many other friends, in the end the real catching up part was a disappointment. Sometimes even if we have that many friends, we can't possibly be talking to all of them at one go. So yeah, as far as Yee Pei is concerned, we only heard gossips from her (with Zen) and Richard asking her about her blog. We assume she has nothing too interesting to tell us. Won't be seeing you off, so big BYE BYE here! Other people? Well they are people like Raj, Elena, Daniel and co which I see all the time. So nothing special, not that I take them for granted. The movie itself was good, apart from the all too sudden ending which leaves most people scratching their heads, as if the film roll suddenly got cut. Interesting nontheless.

***
Among the M2o3 people these days, there is this famous tagline that has easily replaced the all too common "See you again" that we all say to each other before we part. It's not only popular, it makes you look good when you exchange that quote with some one else.

Shu Jin: "Ok la Yee Pei, I go first la. SEE YOU IN UK AR!"
Yee Pei: "Yeah, SEE YOU IN UK too!!!"

At this moment, passers-by near them would take a look at them, startled not only by the outburst of words at a louder than usual pitch, but by the amazement that they are the select few who will be going to UK for one reason or another. So, this guy imitates along and gets the attention he seeks.

Richard: "Eh, Ai Ling, you leaving already ar? Ok lor, I SEE YOU IN UK la!"
Ai Ling: "Talk nonsense la you not go Australia meh? Lebeh only la..."

Only to draw laughters from strangers who have just met a desperate attention seeker.

***
At some point of your lives, have you ever had certain misunderstandings or differences between you and another person that has become so messy that it's absolutely irreconciliable? At the time you are involved in the fray, at the time when there is still chance to go back to where it began, you never thought of taking the step back. Rather, when time has passed and you have come to your senses, you realise the mistakes and loss that you have had but nothing can actually be done. We have moved on and we are in different paradigms of thoughts and experiences, thus we have effectly been severed of any possible ties in the future. All that remains is very superficial, very shallow, and the damage done remains for a lifetime. It may be their fault, it may be ours, but the end result is one that makes us feel it would have been better if we have never met in our lifetimes. Sad, but true.

***
This last part is to give my deepest and heartfelt condolences to my dear friend, Prasad, on the demise of his father last week. It truly is saddening and unfortunate to experience such a loss of this magnitude, but I believe that your dad is definitely in a better place now. Trust me, anywhere else in the galaxy is better than planet Earth where oil prices are sky rocketing and people killing each other. Be strong man, look to the future!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

So Much For O&G

All this while I had barely much idea of how one goes about being a specialist after our basic degree. I had alot of misconceptions, even thinking that one may probably have to spend a year or so attending lectures and PBL at some university, sit for an EOS and be a specialist after you pass. Or perhaps you just have to grow old enough to look and think like a specialist. I have asked many people but to no avail, till I personally asked a doctor who is preparing to be a specialist.

She is currently a Medical Officer who is attached to the O&G clinic and is getting experience to be an O&G specialist in few years time. Here it goes. Regardless of whether you have an MBBS from Malaysia or from any other part of the world, as long as you come back to Malaysia you have two options (I am talking about O&G here). Once you become a Houseman ie. a fresh graduate, you can either choose to pursue a Masters in Medicine degree (M.Med) or opt to go for the more glamourous Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG) certification. While BOTH these degrees will legally allow the holders to use the title of Pakar O&G or O&G Specialist, the M.Med degree is only recognised LOCALLY while the MRCOG one definitely goes far and wide. So as long as you are willing to pledge your life and loyalty to Malaysia, taking a M.Med degree will be sufficient for a specialist title (and of course the higher income and privileges that come with it).

Here's the difference between the two. Apart from the recognition factor, the level of difficulty and hence the level of quality differs quite greatly between the two. To ultimately possess an MRCOG certification, you have got to first take the MRCOG Part 1 exam which can be prepared for since Day 1 and sat for anytime when you are ready. Next, you will have to go for the Part 2a exam, which can only be taken at least 4 years from passing Part 1. Subsequently you go for the last Part 2b before becoming a certified MRCOG holder. The passing rate for Part 1 and Part 2a is only between 7-8% max, while the pass rate for the final part is a bit higher at between 15-20%. And so as you can see, the problem with getting this degree is the difficulty of passing its exams! To even qualify and be eligible to sit for the exams, you must have a logbook which shows that you have had sufficient work experience and exposure in this field. Really not easy man... Exams can be taken in any certified hospitals, not necessary to go all the way to England.

Now having said all that, I also found out a truth about this field. Apparently, Chinese males are the least popular among female patients in the O&G sector. A Malay female or Indian female would be the most welcomed, followed by a Chinese female, Malay male, Indian male and Chinese male. The acceptance level may not be so clearly demarcated in Government hospitals but when it comes to private practice we see such differences, like it or not. Of course, this is not an absolute rule but rather a common sight and understanding among the doctors and patients. So, perhaps O&G isn't for me after all. Better stick to Orthopaedics. That has another LOOOONG story which I won't want to go in depth. Basically to get an MRCS (Ortho) degree, one had better opt to do the local Masters before attempting to apply for the REAL MRCS because apparently the Part 3 exams is kinda by invitation only. They select limited students for it and it would matter if you came from a local or overseas university, for the MBBS I mean. So instead of waiting till you die, you would be better off doing a Masters and practicing as a specialist here first.

Oh well. Now I see the long and windy path to go up there...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Back in Business...

Albeit a little late.

I LOVE ITALIA!!!

Not just because I betted on them and won, but they are really good. Since day 1 I saw them play I knew they would go far. After they had beaten Ukraine in the only clear cut 90 minute victory there is so far in the knock-out rounds of Germany 06, it was made even clear that they are definitely champions material. Now having gotten rid of the host nation, they are left to either bungkus France or Portugal, either of which stand no chance against Italy, IMHO.

GO ITALIA!!!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I am Back!

Yes, after having my last post here 12 days ago, I have finally found the time and motivation to post something again. Contrary to what some may think that my blog is dead because I have lost interest in it, it really is because I have been too occupied with many things in my life currently. The ongoing World Cup is one big distraction like it or not, and my lab work has just started to show how demanding it can be. But I still aim to blog more frequently to update my avid readers who have been visiting my blog so faithfully and churning up my site meter.

As I said, the World Cup is a huge distraction not only to me, but to millions around the world. To football crazy fans, regardless of whether they bet or not, have been enduring many late nights consecutively to watch the horribly late matches. The first match starts at 9pm, second at 12 midnight and the third at 3 am. By the time the matches are over, you will probably end up sleeping at 5am, the time you hear the mosques blasting the early morning prayer call. In some cases where you bet and have lost, you can't even sleep and have to go to work/school in about 2 hour's time looking like a Chinese panda. Even IF you won, you would probably be sighing why didn't you bet MORE! I speak from experience...

For the past 2 weeks I have been spending much time at the House of Vice playing mahjong while watching football. Of course, I used to bet on almost every match there was when I was still winning alot then. I had my fair share of winnings, my peak at about RM150, but after an 8 unbeaten run of winning my bets in a row, things started to head downhill. There were times when I betted small amounts, won, but complained that I should have put more. Then there were times when I played bigger amounts and lost, and whined that I should have know better earlier. Either case, I lost sleep, lost mahjong most of the time, and lost many matches recently. In the last few matches before the end of the First round, my entire winnings were wiped out and now I am in a negative state. Down RM50 to be precise. So for now I have put a stop to football betting and decided to sleep early every night. Even if I do bet in future, I will just put my money and go to sleep since staying up won't change the results anyway. Of course if it was the semi finals or finals I would consider staying up.

Daniel came up with an interesting idea of recovering our losses. If I am down 50, I should bet 50 for another match and try to break even. He says that we should keep trying to place bets since "you can't possibly lose every match". So what if you lose the match which you have betted 50 bucks on? The answer is to double your stakes ie. put 100 on the next match with the same aim of winning and breaking even. And if you happen to lose again just double it up till you break even. But my take on it is, will you actually stop playing after breaking even? There is just this natural greed in punters to go beyond breaking even, to try to win more. Just when you think your luck is coming, you bet a bigger amount and unfortunately lose it all to be back to square one. Football betting I discovered is highly addictive and unpredictable. I guess it takes alot of discipline to know when to retire after winning money, and when to stop betting after losing. Anyhow now it is in the second round which makes betting even more unpredictable, and I will opt to just enjoy watching the matches as it is, if ever; instead of trusting and hoping lousy Ecuador to beat Germany just because I betted on Ecuador.

So much for football, lab work has already started and on Friday I had my first experience of a long day in the lab. I spent 11.5 hours playing around with tiny amounts of antibodies in cute bottles just to produce my first ever ELISA plate. The whole procedure is frustratingly and irritatingly long, and I can't run anywhere far once I have started. The tinny-weeny drops of antibody are like gold. Every 1ml costs over RM1,000, so imagine the great precaution and attention I have to put in. I am not too sure if I will eventually like doing this stuff but for the next 6 months at least, I will have to bear with it for the sake of my degree. Come to think of it, it has been really fast now that I have only 6 months left before I finish! Can still vividly remember the days when I was still bumming around at home in December, as if it was only weeks ago.

San San, YkK, Ai Ling and Zen will be doing their last week of work in IMU from tommorow. After Friday they will no longer have any business with IMU, nor will we be seeing them anymore till they fly off in August. That's presumably we bother to see them off in the airport. Guess the lab and postgrad room will be quieter without them...

Elena and I are planning to visit Grace in Kuching sometime end of July, earliest after Elena's 21st birthday on the 26th. It will be the last chance we will ever have to visit her, before she leaves for UK on 20th of August. When she comes back for holidays next year we would have already been reunited with good ol' Phang in Queensland. So yeah, better work hard and finish more plates before I request for leave from Dr. Vishna.

Who do you think will win the World Cup? In any case, I want France to go die and go hell for playing sucky football. Spain will thrash those blue idiots!!! Hrmph.