For Future Doctors: General Misconception of being a doctor Part 2
My first Part of this topic attracted more than 600 people to visit my blog in a day. Today, I post my second part of my discussion for your reading.
1) Being a GP
As I have written before in my MMA articles, the future of GPs are bleak. If you think that you just want to complete your MBBS and open up a clinic, then I think you are misinformed badly. Many GPs are suffering nowadays. Many have even closed their shops due to severe competition. GPs, not only have to compete with their fellow GPs but also with private hospitals, government clinics, pharmacy and traditional medicine sellers. The scenario has changed as I have said in Part 1. You are also strictly regulated by the Private Healthcare and Facilities Act which was implemented from 2006 onwards. Many GPs are only earning a net profit of RM 10 000 a month which is ridiculous compared to the amount of work that you are doing. Imagine that you have to work from 9am to 10pm daily including Saturdays and Sundays, especially during your early days. That’s the reason why you notice less and fewer doctors resigning from the government sector to set up their clinic. GPs are now moving from urban areas to sub-urban and rural areas to open up their practises. There may be a better market for GPs in these areas compared to town areas.
2) Being a Consultant in a Private Hospital
Only in medicine I can earn RM 50 000/month when I work in private hospital? I had many friends and budding doctors who feel that medical specialist earns the highest in private sector compared to any other profession. Again, I would say that you are mistaken. Even though you may be right in terms of the earning capacity but what you are not aware is the fact that the private hospitals DO NOT pay us a salary!
Basically you are NOT employed by the private hospital. You are just running a clinic as a self-employed person in the hospital. Whatever you earn is the consultation/surgical fees that you are charging the patients. In fact, the hospital takes 10-15% of your consultation fee as their administrative fee. Furthermore you also need to pay a rental for the clinic space that you are renting! The rental can range from RM 4000 to RM 8000/month. Yes, if you are an interventionist/surgeon or have a lot of patients, you may earn as high as above but at the same time you can also earn very much less than expected depending on the number of patients that you see for that particular month. You may even end up earning less than RM 10 000/month at times! Again, with more and more private hospitals coming up, the competition will be greater and the income of each doctor in each hospital will definitely drop even further. Remember, if a patient’s hospital bill for an admission is RM 5000, only less than 25% of the bill is the consultation fee which belongs to you, of which the hospital will take another 10%!
Also, when you are in a private hospital you are all alone. There are no junior doctors to help you. You need to do all the procedures by yourself and must be available at all times to entertain any medical complaints from the patients (even in the middle of the night). It is not just a matter of running a clinic! So basically you can only charge a patient when you see a patient for consultation and that is your salary!
And also don’t forget, for you to reach the status of a subspecialists before going full-time private practise, it will take at least 12 years following undergraduate medical education, a total of 15-17 years !! By this time some of your fiends will be earning much more than you and driving bigger cars and going holidays all over the world. Many of my friends who went on to do IT, accountancy etc etc had become company managers and directors by the time I finish my subspeciality. They have started to enjoy their life when I was just beginning to think of earning money.
3) TV programmes : ER, CSI, House etc
Don’t get carried away by watching TV programmes like ER, CSI and House. Things do not work the way it is shown on the TV. I had one budding doctor who said that she wants to become a forensic pathologist. I am sure she was influenced by CSI. In Malaysia, the reality is, any forensic pathologist just sits in the mortuary the whole day. They hardly go down to the scene of the crime. Furthermore, if you do attend a court case, you will be tortured by the lawyer. BTW, don’t think we have all the high-end technology in our mortuary like what you see in CSI. In Malaysia, forensic pathologist doesn’t work in a police department. You are just another specialist in a government hospital forever, as you won’t be able to go private. Malaysian law do not accept a report by a private specialist.
4) Patient’s demand and increasing medico-legal issues
Many doctors are being sued nowadays. This happens in most developing or developed countries. Gone are the days where patients will forgive and forget. Even the government is asking all doctors in civil service to take their own indemnity insurance as the government may not be able to cope with the legal suits. The cost of insurance has gone up tremendously especially for surgeons and obstetrician. For Obstetrician, the yearly insurance stands at RM 40 000 – 50 000! So, don’t think that the public has high respect for you and thus they will not take any action against you. A small mistake can land you in court and your entire reputation will be affected, no matter how many life’s that you have saved.
I am sure I would have made a lot of you very depressed by now. Please do not do medicine for the reasons that I have mentioned above. You will regret it later. If you really have passion for medicine then by all means, go ahead. I give the same advice to all parents who seek my advice regarding medicine. But always remember, no matter how much passion you have for medicine, it is still a job for you to earn money for a living. Once you are married and have children, money will be the most important factor no matter what you think now.
The amount of money you are spending to do undergraduate medicine alone can easily be used to start-up a business! Most private medical colleges in Malaysia charges about RM50 000-90 000/year which comes to about RM 250 000 to 500 000 in total, not including accommodation and food. You can easily safe this money, do accountancy/engineering/designer etc etc and use it later to start your own business venture. Don’t you think it is a better option? To get back the investment that you have made for medicine will take another 20 years, not including the money that you need to spend for postgraduate education!
Let me tell you, the money now is not in professional field. If you are smart and only want to earn money, please try technical studies like architect, interior designer, accountancy etc. This is where the money is! If you are good, you can easily become a manager or director of a company by the age of 35