So, U Wanna Be A Doctor..??

1 Dec

my friends like to ask me “why do you wanna be a doc..?

well, i’m just an ordinary guy with nothing special.. and my IQ is probably only 51%.. huhu.. :p

i received my primary and secondary school education at St’ Paul School and Green Road Secondary School in Kuching respectively.. i enjoyed school activities very much.. i participated in the Wushu Club and i was a Corporal in the Police Cadet..

during my early years, i was once ambitious to become a policeman, but the dream spoilt after i acquired myopia and required a pair of thick glasses.. sop.. sop.. sad 😥

so i had to switch my ambition.. i started to dream of becoming a doctor when i was in form 5.. i really wanted to know how a human body functions.. i wanted so much to become a flying doctor.. i wanted to fly to different places and rural areas to see their culture and at the same time to improve their health status.. but i never thought of this dream would have led me gone through the toughest route in my life.. and it took me 10 years to become a doc..!!!

due to limited places available in the public universities in those days, i was not able to get a place in the medical program after my STPM.. and at the same time i couldn’t afford for the expensive medical education in private college (as far as i can remember, there was only 1 private medical college available back to that time in 90s)..

i was lucky enough to be offered a place in Bioindustry in Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (now Unversiti Putra Malaysia) in 1996.. in those days, one would be very happy and proud if managed to secure a place in the public university, no matter what was the program being offered.. after working very hard for one year and archived a Dean’s List Award with a CGPA of 3.65, i attempted to apply to change my study program.. i was queuing for half a day in the academic office to get the form and hoped that i could be accepted into the medical program in the same university.. unfortunately, they wanted a CGPA of 3.75 (just a difference of 0.10 from mine), so there was no place for me.. i only managed to switch my program to Nutrition & Community Health.. (remark: Bioindustry is a very nice program, related to agricultural and environmental sciences.. however, i’m more interested in human health, that’s the reason why i switched my study program..)

completed my BSc Nutrition & Community Health in 1999.. then, i made another attempt to apply for medical program, but, unfortunately, the application date was closed.. i was in dilemma, should i just come out to work, or to stay back and continue with my postgraduate study?? i worried that if i come out to work, i would have lost my interests in study then.. so, finally i had chosen to continue my postgraduate study in the same university..

completed my MSc Chemical Pathology in 2001.. again, attempted to apply for medical program for the fourth time in my life, and again, unfortunately for the fourth time, the Ministry of Education (the Ministry of Higher Education was not established yet at that time) had come out with a new policy.. “those who have a degree are not allowed to enter any undergraduate program again”.. what?? i was really disappointed, and thought of giving up.. however, the desire to become a doc was so strong until i decided to find an alternative way to pursue my medical education.. i was searching around for private colleges but then i was turned down by their expensive fees..

you have met our entry requirement, you are absolutely qualified enough to do medicine.. but please make the payment first before the semester starts..” i was really down..

luckily, i found a private medical college in Perak which had given me an opportunity to study medicine with lots of supports.. i told the Dean.. “i’m very interested to study medicine, but i don’t have enough money..” and she answered.. “no one can stop you from study medicine.. money shouldn’t be an obstacle to stop a young man with strong determination to study medicine..” that was the ONLY medical college in Malaysia at that time which allowed me to chase for my dream and entered the class without asking for money first.. they allowed me to pay back the tuition fee when i started to work later.. 🙂

so, finally i entered the medical school at the age of 27.. i really thanked her so much.. 🙂

however, things weren’t going well smoothly after that.. discouragement, stress, demotivation were all jumping on me.. study with a group of adik-adik.. old age with poor memory throughout the study.. executing my duty as the President of Students Council, and at the same time had to work part-time to earn pocket money and to pay my room rental.. i couldn’t get any scholarship from JPA or any other organisations just because their policy was no sponsorship for degree holder to do medicine.. really struggled a lot to earn my MBBS..

sometimes i felt that i would have earned much more money if i just open up a duck rice stall.. or i just sell myself as a duck.. :p

no matter how, i never regret.. because i had made the right decision, and i’m happy and enjoy with what i’m doing now (although i’m a poor doctor with no car, no house, and no spouse..) :p when looking back to what i have gone through so far, they were all worth it.. 🙂

i worked as a house officer (at the age of 32 years old) and then junior medical officer in Ipoh Hospital (2006-2008) before i decided to join a local public university as a trainee lecturer in June 2008, and at the same time worked as a medical officer at Sarawak General Hospital (General Surgery & Neurosurgery) until May 2010..

i love the brain, because it looks so simple but too complex to understand.. and there are a lot of things yet to be explored inside the brain.. thus, i have decided to specialise in neurosurgery.. i passed the entry exam and was accepted into the postgraduate program in neurosurgery at a local public university in June 2010.. i passed my MRCS (Ireland) exam as well.. there are still a lot of things for me to learn every day.. learning is never ending..

i like research, teaching and clinical works.. my research areas of interest include i)  nutrition, anti-aging and regenerative medicine, ii) neuro-trauma and rehabilitation..

few words to the prospect students and current medical students..:

1) spend more time with your family.. you need to know how to love your family members before you can appreciate and apply the love and care to your patients.. otherwise, you will be treating your patients like a robot without passion, enthusiasm, or any empathy.. treat your patients in the way that how you want yourself to be treated..

2) talking to the patients and do the clinical examination in the ward will give you more knowledge and practical experience rather than just reading and memorizing the books in the library..

3) medicine is all about appreciation and experience, not by mugging the books.. and, no “shortcuts” in medical field.. always take initiative to learn from the teachers and seniors.. always be humble, humble and humble in seeking knowledge.. never for a medical student or junior doctor to behave like “tin kosong berlagak sombong..

4) work with your heart, but not your mouth.. i am sure someone has asked you “why do you want to be a doctor?”.. and i am pretty sure most of you have given this answer “i want to save lives.. i want to help the sick..”.. emm, well, this might be true when you are still in the medical school, but once you step into the housemanship, most of you will forget about this.. some come to work late.. some disappear during work.. some ignore the patients after 5.00pm.. some consider seeing patients as an extra working load.. some are rude to the patients.. you will find out these in your career later..

5) you do not need to be a straight A student to become a doctor.. medical profession is not meant for the clever or IQ 100% only.. but anyone who is enjoying medicine and a good listener to the patient will definitely doing well in his/her medical career.. of course, i am NOT a “A” student!! (remark:  interest is an issue, but whether you can enjoy your work is another issue..)

6) always appreciate with what you are having now.. it is comparatively easier to get into medical profession nowadays in view of so many new medical schools being established for the recent years.. the younger generations now are so lucky.. just imagine i need to wait for 10 years to realize my dream..! that’s the main reason why i feel so SAD when i see some of the junior doctors behave acuh tak acuh, ego, and not keen to improve their clinical skills.. i never said that i’m very good, but just keep reminding myself not to cause harm to the patients.. i will make sure nothing is pending before i leave the ward, and also make sure what i’ve done is always safe to the patients.. i’m not GOD, i’ve limitation as well, i can’t treat all the diseases, i can’t do surgery on every surgical case, but i will try to make sure the patients are always comfortable even though there are nothing much that we can do (e.g. terminally ill patients).. the most important thing is: knowing our own limitation and try to improve ourselves, don’t do harm if we really can’t help much.. and never, never let our EGO to over take everything.. (remark: always have discussion with colleagues to solve the problems, but not by arguing..)

7) don’t give up, and never give up.. make the right decision for the life you would like to have in future.. set your goal and working towards it.. nothing is impossible.. i was once washing plates in a fast food restaurant for pocket money, now i am busy washing the brain in the hospital.. you may find many obstacles throughout your journey to success, just be patience.. take the responsibility and work with passion, and don’t end up as a doctor potato..

8) remember, nothing can stop you, unless your heart stops beating.. all the best.. and cheers 🙂

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59 Responses to “So, U Wanna Be A Doctor..??”

  1. Beta December 1, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    Correctly,basicly we’re same and had a long journey to become a doctor..I mean the quality doctor..not the quantity doctor…Agreed with ur all fact..I do really admire with ur soul,patience and attitute..really motivate me to go through the life…I’ll take ur advised and digest it as well…U are my Idol doc…really2 mean to it…May GOD bless U always doc

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:27 am #

      thanks Beta.. 🙂
      wishing you all the best as well.. 🙂

  2. MaMabel December 2, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Dr SK, very well written! Yes, the new generations are such a lucky lot but they don’t seem to be appreciative of what’s been given to them. I agree with you. Our politician and policymakers’ most of the time have screwed-up priorities! All the best to you in your career and may your passion to serve the community and country remains unabated.

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:26 am #

      thanks for your full support MaMabel.. 🙂

  3. GC December 2, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    Wow your determination and perseverance are incredible. Such a long journey more even though I am the “younger generation” you speak of. So much to learn and definitely need to keep the fire for patients and knowledge burning. I will learn from you Dr SS =)

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:25 am #

      hi GC.. thanks for visiting.. 🙂
      wishing you all the best in your medical career.. 🙂

  4. CH Teoh December 2, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    wow … Dr Sim. Such an article. Well, I know your feeling. I was a late comer too. I was seeing all the adik-adik in their 80’s & 90’s in my industry. Well, I think we should be brave to dream & the courage to pursue it regardless of our age.

    Keep up the spirit!!!

    • Yin Yin December 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

      Hi Dr. Sim,
      I’m a 3rd year medical student. Your article is really interesting and motivated. I really impressed with your determination to be a doctor. You go through so many challenges and obstacles to realize your dream. I felt myself so lucky because can get a place in local university after I finished my matriculation. I appreciate. Thanks for the advice above. You are a great doctor. Best of luck for everything you do ^^

      • leon December 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

        Bro, very sentimental……..u need a char poh gia…cheerrss to the best doctor in the world

      • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:21 am #

        haha.. thanks, thanks.. :p

      • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:23 am #

        hi Yin Yin..
        nice to hear from you.. 🙂
        hope you enjoy your study and wishing you all the best.. 🙂

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:24 am #

      thanks CH.. 🙂

  5. suituapui December 3, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    “…or i just sell myself as a duck…” Muahahahaha!!!! Got people want to buy kah? Long resume…but jokes aside, you certainly have my utmost respect – being someone who would let nothing stand between him and his ultimate dream. Good luck, all the best in your undertakings.

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:20 am #

      haha.. if no people buy then give some special offer lor.. home delivery plus 30% discount plus money return guarantee.. hahaha.. :p

  6. aijiun December 3, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    wow sim, this is one of d best blog that i’v read…din know u hav such a great determination in u:) never heard of these stories before…if its me, would have given up long long time ago:) its goin through all that make u d good doctor u r 2dy:) Mz b feeling great after having gone through so much, yet in 2 years time, u’l be Mr Sim….another accomplishment….:)

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:18 am #

      thanks Ai Jiun.. 🙂
      wishing you all the best in your study as well.. 🙂

  7. lim su lone December 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    i definitely understand ur feeling. u took long time to become a doctor and for me i will take almost double of ur time to become a neurosurgeon. cheers up dude. sama-sama kita berusaha

    • Simon Sim December 4, 2011 at 12:14 am #

      haha.. hope you enjoy your training in Singapore.. 🙂

  8. calvinbiology December 7, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    You have inspired me doctor. I am currently doing my degree in biology in public university. I hope after I graduate, I can apply for medical program in Malaysia. 🙂

    • Simon Sim December 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

      hi Calvin.. wishing you all the best.. 🙂

  9. Aradhana December 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Wow! You are amazing. You inspired me, to follow my dreams no matter what others might say. No! i’M NOT A STRAIGHT ‘A’ STUDENT. And I want to do dentistry so badly. Thank you for the inspiring post! All the best Mr.S. God bless you. 🙂

    • Simon Sim December 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

      hi Aradhana.. wishing you all the best and have a bright future.. ^_^

  10. Eric February 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    Nice article Dr simon!! Keep on with more good post and inspire us the future doc!! i am a final medical student and am very passionate in becoming a future surgeon. i plan to take mrcs and apply the master programme at the same time, just as what you did. I am already starting my revision for the MRCS part A. Is there any good books that you recommend ? 🙂

    • Simon Sim February 2, 2012 at 7:16 am #

      hi Eric.. 🙂
      nice to hear from you.. and thanks for visiting..
      glad to know that you are interested in surgery.. 🙂

      recommended books for MRCS part A:
      1. Basic Science for the MRCS (Andrew T Raftery, Michael S Delbridge)
      2. Churchill’s Pocketbook of Surgery (Andrew T Raftery, Michael S Delbridge)
      3. MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 1 (Pastest, Irfan Halim)
      4. MRCS Practice Papers Part A: Paper 2 (Pastest, Kimberly Lammin)
      5. Last Minutes Intercollegiate MRCS (Pastest, Marc Gladman)

      wish you good luck in your exam and hope you success in your future career.. 🙂

  11. Claire August 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Wow, it is really motivating. Thanks for sharing your experience. I live in Borneo too, Sabah for specific. I know it is hard to become a doctor. I am taking foundation now and I really would like to serve for our country, my state especially. Hope I can be strong as you.. 🙂

    • Simon Sim August 5, 2012 at 2:25 am #

      hi Claire.. wishing u all the best.. 🙂

      • Claire August 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

        Thank you :). You too, doc. hihi

  12. limzeshun September 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Dear Dr. Simon, thx for ur words that make my day……I am a medical student currently still

    struggle to become a good doctor as both in knowledge and attitude…your advice is awesome and hope to learn from you 1day, hope to have the chance…thx, gambateh

    • Simon Sim September 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

      hi Ze Shun 🙂
      thanks for visiting..
      all the best in your medical study.. 🙂

  13. Shaun Ng September 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Dear Dr Simon,

    I’m not sure if you have a facebook account but i have proceeded to share your article after reading them since i was thinking it may of many help for people who are still struggling to realize their dreams. I’m a final year medical student in one of the private local medical college and was privileged enough to get funded and get into a medical school at young age. I find your story inspiring and it is difficult to see how far one has to go to achieve their dreams nowadays.

    I’m glad i dropped by your page while searching for places to start my housemanship (randomly) and reading all your posts made me realize how important being humble is in the medical profession.

    Last but not least, i thank you for being an inspiration for many young doctors and i wish you all the best in your postgraduate training. I would certainly hoped that i could come this far one day if everything permits!

    Hope to see you around one day! (Hopefully as one of my boss!)

    • Simon Sim September 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

      hi Shaun Ng.. 🙂
      thanks for sharing..
      wish you success in your future career.. ^_^

  14. debb.k September 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    your post is really inspiring! =) thanks doctor!

    • Simon Sim September 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      hi debb.k 🙂
      thanks for reading.. ^_^

  15. Kah Pin September 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    hi Simon. how are you? Long time no see… Wow, great to have read such inspiring article!!

    • Simon Sim September 16, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      hi Kah Pin.. 🙂
      i’m fine here.. nice to hear from you as well.. 🙂

  16. Simon, R September 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    Well done Sim. Truly inspiring journey to medicine with the right mindset. Wish you better things to come..nice car and house, more money and wonderful spouse to journey in your life together.

    • Simon Sim September 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      haha.. thanks thanks.. 🙂
      nice to meet you Simon R.. ^_^

  17. h2m September 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Dr. Sim. this is really inspiring! it reminds me about why i want to be a doctor and i am in the chain now! i was ur houseman for one day in neurosurg before you left the department and i really appreciate about what you have taught me. thank you doc!! may you have a great journey ahead. all the best! i will do my best too!

    • Simon Sim September 19, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      thanks h2m.. 🙂
      wish you good luck and success in your career.. ^_^

  18. miss nurul September 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    very inspiring story… thanx for sharing this story doc sim. i also applied to the same medical uni as u were. i quit from my previous medical school abroad since i really want to study n working locally. as in ur story, very difficult to get a place in local uni. hmm.. n those who r easily get places (super easy i think) in medical schools, always rising problems, poor discipline n performance too (based on my observation of my younger classmate).. now, im in my 4th year of study.. i really hope to b strong like u. thanx again for sharing this story.

    • Simon Sim September 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

      hi Miss Nurul.. 🙂
      nice to know that u r now studying medicine in the same college with mine..
      wishing u all the best and success in ur exam.. ^_^

  19. Alicia September 30, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    Hi,

    Very inspiring story indeed. Well, I’m not in the medical field but I’ve also gone through similar phase like you to realize my dream of becoming a lawyer. I had a degree from a local university and thereafter continue to struggle financially to study law and currently still struggling financially doing my pupillage with a legal firm.

    I know how you feel and the sacrifices you’ve gone through. Anyway, enjoy reading your blog as it’s really informative. Thank you.

    • Simon Sim October 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      hi Alicia.. wish all ur dreams come true.. ^_^

  20. mrs young December 27, 2012 at 1:21 am #

    wow.. what a long journey. im looking forward to become a doctor since i was in Form 3 but considering the fees and living costs i’m not confident anymore if i want to become a doctor. in gov. universities only it costs like RM230000+ for the first 5 years of medical study..not yet in private universities… now i don’t know what i want to be because the only thing that is on my mind is becoming a doctor..i dont have any backup plans.. 😦

    • Simon Sim December 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      dear mrs young.. 🙂
      thanks for sharing..
      medical programme in public universities averagely cost about RM75,000 -100,000 for 5 years..
      whereas in private colleges/universities it cost about 250,000 to 350,000 for 5 years..
      may be u can consider to become a nutritionist.. good career prospect as well.. 🙂
      another alternative, if u really like medicine so much, then may consider to get study loan from the bank..
      this is risky, because when u find out later the doctor’s life is totally different from what u hav expected before this, then u may not able to enjoy ur work, but at the same time u still hav a huge hutang need to pay back..
      discuss with ur friends who r working as doctor to understand better how a doc’s life and working environment is.. 🙂
      also think carefully the goal of life that u really wan to archieve before making the decision..
      wishing u all the best.. 🙂

  21. anonymous March 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    hai from jb!!!!!!!

    • Simon Sim March 8, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      hi.. 🙂

      • The MO April 1, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

        Hi Simon Sim.

        I was really down today. I failed my mrcs previously, I will be sitting for it again. But today I just realized I failed my second application to masters. I am also down with laryngitis actually.

        Then my wife realized I was in bad shape both physically and mentally she told me to read the story of simonsim. I wasn’t really in the mood for anything to read actually but I did what she asked anyway.

        My current condition is a pale comparison to what you have endured. I realized I should have been stronger and should not have let these small things break me. I cannot imagine myself in your shoes. You have paved your path in sweat and blood. I have to be stronger.

        This May marks my 5th year in service. My juniors are going into the masters program earlier than me, but I will catch up.

        Thanks simonsim, knowing your story has made a huge difference.

      • Simon Sim April 7, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

        dear MO.. 🙂
        thanks for sharing ur story with us as well..
        ya, be strong.. 🙂
        failed in exam can actually make us stronger.. 🙂
        learned from our own mistake and improve our shortage..
        indeed, it is better to fail in exam rather than fail in real life later..
        in exam, when u made the wrong decisions, the only punishment is just “fail exam”.. u can always go for another attempt..
        but in real life, when u made the wrong decisions, the patient will die, and the punishment is “guilty for whole life”..
        there are few factors that may affect one’s application to master program, for example, the hot vs cold program, completed compulsory services, experience in conducting research and paper presentations, good relationship with boss, etc, etc..
        don’t give up.. try again in next intake.. u will do well in ur master program later because u hav more experience in service compare to others.. 🙂
        wishing u all the best and success in ur career.. 🙂

  22. Audrey April 6, 2013 at 6:33 am #

    It’s an amazing journey you’ve had thus far. this article just refreshes my motivations to continue on my own journey to become a doctor myself. i’m ashamed to say that sometimes, i study just for the sake of passing the exams to get on to the next stage of medical school. but after some thought, i know that is not the right thing to do. i should be preparing myself to be a good doctor, not just merely a doctor with the certification and title. =) thanks!

    • Simon Sim April 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm #

      hi Audrey.. 🙂
      nice to know u..
      hope u r doing well in ur study.. 🙂

  23. Leo May 24, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    hye Dr. Simon, or I better just to call u Simon 🙂 .. I’m glad to hear such a motivating story from ur experiences ! yah, we’r different being of same thought and ambition…quite a similar story I could told in the future. I’m currently a Health Inspector. Has been posted to Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah Marudi..just started my week indeed ! for me, what I am doing now is just a ticket for me to go further.. I always hope for another chance to do my MBBS too.. but I want to go through first degree (BMS/Microbiology/Health Science) before proceed to the Doc Degree… I just need to always have my enthusiasm and passionate heart till I get there….wish me luck and pray together 🙂 possibly reply to my mail (leonardtingang@yahoo.com)

    • Simon Sim May 27, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      hi Leo 🙂
      thanks for sharing..
      may all ur dreams come true and wishing u all the best in ur future career.. 🙂

  24. Mj August 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Just click in your blog randomly and read. I am a 2012 stpm students. Stpm is real hard for me even though I get straight A for my spm. I am passionate to study medicine and work as a medical doctor like you. I was stunned by your burning desire and your determination of becoming a doctor. However, I felt so embarrassed if I used the term “passionate of becoming a doctor” because I am not working towards my goal as laziness is my main problem that lead to the failure of having a good grades. I felt so proud of you, you are a great doctor and I wished I can be 1 of them working in the hospital real soon. The probability to study medicine is not so high as the poor results I get in sem 1&2. However, they allow me to resit foe the test. This is the new syllables of stpm 2012. Besides, I face the same situations as you did. I am financially constrained. I am not sure whether I can make it or not,but I am sure from now I will work hard to see whether there is miracles! I am inspired and impressed by your strong will. Will come back and leave my comments after I get my results next year. All the best DOCTOR!

    • Simon Sim September 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

      hi Mj..
      good luck in ur study..
      and hope u will get excellent result in ur stpm.. ^_^
      may all ur dreams come true.. 🙂

  25. faza October 10, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    hi doc..why i just found your blog.. really inspiring… im cry reading this post.. btw, im medical student final at USM .. hopefully can met you one day. you doing postgraduate at USM rite?

    • Simon Sim October 13, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

      hi Faza..
      yup, i’m now in USM doing postgraduate training..
      good luck in your study.. 🙂

  26. Lk Liew February 21, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Hi! I’m really amazed with your strong determination to become a doctor. I think I’d have give up already if I were you. I worked in SGH before since 2005 but never as a neuro MO la. Good for Sarawak to have more neurosurgeons!

    • Simon Sim February 22, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      Hi Dr. Liew..
      Thanks for visiting.. 🙂

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