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How is life as a doctor in Singapore?

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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 19-12-2011, 12:36 PM
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There is a lot of truth in all that slave of medicine and dempsey said about working conditions for the junior doctors in Singapore (in the post for salary 2007). Kudos to them for speaking up. And yes, sleep deprivation has been linked to impaired concentration, no one can credibly dispute that. Annual leave? Plenty but you can't take them because someone else is already on leave.

Singapore has been on a recruitment drive to recruit foreign doctors for an extremely long time, yet they are still very short of doctors, especially doctors they are hoping to target (who received their medical education from first world countries). When something is such a hard sell, you have to wonder why. Just like the old adage: “When something is sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.” You don’t see Cambridge or Oxford going overseas on recruitment drives, do you?

Actually, I think the issue here is not the salary. The overall take home salary (ie, after taxes) are comparable to what a junior doctor (HO, MO, registrar) with similar experience would earn in Australia. But, a junior doctor in Australia works much less hours, and when you break down to hourly pay, the doctors in Singapore earn much less. Besides, essentials like houses and cars are far cheaper in Australia so your standard of living is much much better than in Singapore.

I think the issue is about working conditions (likened to slavery by slave of medicine) and respect. The vast majority of the junior doctors working in Singapore are Singapore graduates bonded to the system for 5 years(because of their NUS study bond). Like it or not, they have to stay because most of them cannot afford the very large sum they have to pay back to break the bond. When one is bonded, they lose bargaining power. Like it or not, they have to accept whatever conditions get imposed to them. They do not dare to speak up because they may get bullied for 5 years if they do. And also because of the fact that they are paid by the month not by the hour, they are forced to put in a lot of extra hours. I know hospitals which have daily meetings that start at 7am and MO’s have to attend. And for MO’s to have to come back alone every Sunday for routine ward rounds, that’s totally uncalled for, I think. I remember a posting I did where I did not get a single day off for 2 months. Yup, I worked 60days in a row. As someone said, even maids get a compuslory day off.

And since these are the set working conditions in Singapore, the foreign grads also have to work under the same conditions. Many many foreign grads have come back to work in Singapore, then left again when they realised what they really got themselves into. If someone borrowed money from loansharks and are now subjected to their harrassments, why should you come along and be subjected to the same harrassment? Totally unnecessary. But it is a pity that these foreign grads have wasted time & effort exploring what they think is greener pastures, only to realize that the grass in Singapore is actually wilted!

I think if the seniors make us feel appreciated and try to acknowledge the hardship that the juniors go through, it does go a long way. Rather than think “I’ve been through it so you must go through it too”. It may not actually change the conditions, but it makes us feel better about it. Many people are not driven by money, but by job satisfaction.

In terms of trainee positions, I can’t say there is a bias against foreign grads. However, if no one knows you, you’re less likely to be selected for a job than another doctor who have worked here and is known to the seniors. It’s human nature. Even if you are on the selection panel, you’re more likely to pick someone you know, than someone you don’t know isn’t it?
For foreign grads who come back to Singapore, there are also hurdles like the fact that you have to form new friendship, you don’t have anyone to advise you re which postings not to choose, what to look out for etc, you have no one to confide in about work worries, because you don’t have any close trusted friends. You really have to start over again in far more aspects of your life than you think.

If you are prepared to work extremely hard and forget totally about work-life balance, then yes, Singapore can be the place for you. But for many people like me, work-life balance is very important. Working about 60-80 hours a week does burn you out after awhile, and sooner than you think! And think about it, if you put in 60-80hrs a week of hard work where you are right now, your chance of becoming very successful is very good, maybe even better than Singapore!

There is another issue – the SMC. Even though they state on their website that Singaporeans who are foreign grads can apply for full registration after two years, in reality there are a lot of people who, for no apparent good reason, are not given their full registration after two years (MO’s whose performance have been consistently graded good, never made any clinical mistakes, never had complaints made against them!)… and the first indicator of a “poor” performance was when full registration is rejected after two years. The best thing is, they don’t give you a reason why full registration is rejected! Your SMC assessment reports are not shared with you. It is likely a ploy to keep foreign grads trapped in the public system, because the foreign grads have no study bond. So foreign grad Singaporeans, be very aware! You may want to rethink your decision to come back if you think you can get full registration after two years! The actual fact is that you’re likely to be trapped in stifling working conditions for longer than you think!

As for foreign consultants who want to work in Singapore, the reality is that your hands will be severely tied with the conditional registration – which stipulates where you can work, how many hours you must work etc. You can forget about flexibility or locum work. You have to start all over again, and if you really think about it, you’re probably better off spending those few years building your career in where you are right now, and starting over.
The bottom line is, if you graduated from a first world country like UK, Australia, USA, you’re really MUCH better off staying put, because the working conditions and living conditions, quality of life (for yourself and your family) are far better in these countries, and spend the time/effort establishing your practice where you are. I can’t say the same for doctors who currently come from the third world countries, because living conditions are probably better in Singapore compared to those third world countries and they do stand to gain by coming.

Just my opinion of course, from someone who's worked in Singapore, and overseas!

Very complete input. Just to add some points for who are still coming to Singapore and work as Doctor.

1. There is NO WAY you can get full registration in Singapore, be it Specialist or whatever in UK/USA/Australia. I worked here as Resident Physician for over 7 years, still not fully registered. That means no hope for those try to settle in Singapore. Those aiming for short term stay - pay is not bad, around S$ 4000 as basic to start of as Medical Officer.

2. Work enviroment - Supervisors review are very VERY bias. They thought locally trained are best but reality is a joke. I have 2 local diplomas while I working here. If you do better than them - jellous you & attack you like crows (According to my experience here over 7 years in 4 hospitals).

3. Work Life - over stretched. short of man power at all time. Prepare yourself to work 60 -80 hours a week. Very demanding as well. Night duty/long duty start at today 830am and you only can knock off tomorrow 1230pm if you are lucky, otherwise end up going back 4-5pm next day. No official off day after long duty.

4. For training - They may say training, but end up with work for all time. No proper training. Supervising is in your dream but prepare for yourself to be blamed if something wrong.

5. Language - perpare yourself to be Mandarin/Hokkian efficient. Even among local docotrs - they perfer to speak in those langauages rather than English, not only patients. On the top of that you should be able to speak basic Malay and Tamil. That will give you good start.

6. Living Cost - If you stay in one room rental is about 700S$ (not whole flat)(as of current marlet rate) - you only will have one small bedroom (10x 12 feet)with common toilet. If you want to rent a whole flat about 70 sq meter flat - is about S$2000 and above depends on location. For meals - if you eat cheapest one - cost you about S$5 plus including drink. Most of rental room here not allow to cook your meal. No way of buying own car here - toyota altis like japanese can cause you around 90-100KS$ which is only can use for 10years. plus so called ERP (road pricing gantry) are everywhere.

7. Discrimination against foreign trained - whereever you trained before(including UK/USA), you will get this treatment. If you keen to work in Singapore, prepare yourself mentally before you come. This is culture here.

Recommendation:
1. Good for doctors from third world countries where pay is lower than Singapore.
2. Good fot those who intended to stay for short term.
3. Good for who can work 60-80 hours a week persistently
4. Good for junior/school leaver to earn some ecperience before settle in USA/UK/Australia.

My personal opinion - Australia is the best choice as work-life balance

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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 19-12-2011, 12:50 PM
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Easy. Travel here, visit our hospitals and talk to our MOs ("junior doctors").

Never trust the web, like you don't trust recruiters and agents.

No smoke will be seen if there is no fire. Come to Singapore if money to burn for hearing what dcotrs in Singapore are suffering yourself. You will be suprised - long owrk hours, discrimination against foreign trained, high living cost, bias supervisor review and many more. LOL

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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 19-12-2011, 12:52 PM
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Are you insane? You think you can have quality life in Singapore a doctor? You think Singapore is better than UK (in pay wise and work life balance)?

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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 19-12-2011, 01:07 PM
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am a UK cardiothoracic trainee, was planning to continue training in singapore. am shocked to see the comments made. is there no pay banding and work hours monitoring in sg. what salary can I negotiate if my current salary is about £80,000 on Band 3. can someone pls throw some light. is it really worth given the difficulty to be in CT surgery in UK, it's next to impossible,as one may be aware. Any advice pls
We are welcome you to come from UK with lower pay and longer working hours with no proper training here. We need a lot of doctors like you who can scarify their career time, income and can withstans 60-80 hours a week owrk hours with no off day. LOL
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 19-12-2011, 01:15 PM
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Very interested to read the remarks above - I am a Consultant in the UK since last 2.5 years.I have recently been tempted by Singapore consultant jobs - mainly the weather (!) and the fact that it is in Asia ( I'm Indian).Also thought it would be nice to bring kids up in cosmopolitan environment.
Is this the truth? Does life not get better as doctors progress up the ladder? Are the earnings not comfortable enough as a Consultant to not need locum work and to live comfortably?

Do you have sound mind?, you are already in UK as a consultant.
Do you know why Singapore has laways short of Docotr even pay here is not bad?
Do you know how they treat foreign trained grad here in Singapore?
My humble opinion, stay put in UK, don't give your family and yourself a trouble.
You may not have ladder to heaven here, only escalator to going down to hell in Singapore.
You don't believe!! Come and try, then post one additional comment your testimonial as proof. So no one will do it again.
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old 19-12-2011, 01:21 PM
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Dear friends..........I would curious about how much a psychiatrist or child psychiatrist would be able to make in singapore. May it be at hospital or in private practice? I heart sums from about S$300,000 to S$500,000 a year? Considering the shortage of psychiatrists in Singapore is it one of the better paid specialties? Thanks.

NO way you will be allowed to practise in private sector since you are foreign trained and you will never be fully registered.
You can earn 300-500K a year in Singapore if you rob the bank. You can expect about 100-200K before tax as a specialist as psy.
By the way - Are you able to speak fluently in Teochew/Hokkian/Mandarin/Malay, forgo your hope otherwise.
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old 26-12-2011, 03:20 PM
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hello everyone

Can anybody give input on working as Emergency Physician n Singapore ?

Thank you
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  #48 (permalink)  
Old 27-12-2011, 11:29 AM
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hello everyone

Can anybody give input on working as Emergency Physician n Singapore ?

Thank you
What is your qualification first before we can comment.
Primary qualification, post grad, years of ecxperience etc cos Singapore not consider experience from developing countries nd not all post grad qualifications are recognised in Singapore. go n visit singapor medical council webpage and see registrable post grad qualification list first.
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  #49 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2012, 07:58 PM
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Default Working as a radiologist

Hi everyone

I am about to finish radiology training in New Zealand(FRANZCR). I have been looking to move to Singapore to work as a consultant. But after reading some of the comments here, it doesn't sound very enticing anymore.

No full registration to foreign grad? That doesn't sound very nice.

Can anyone give me some input on life and earning of radiologists in Singapore?


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  #50 (permalink)  
Old 07-01-2012, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Rad View Post
Hi everyone

I am about to finish radiology training in New Zealand(FRANZCR). I have been looking to move to Singapore to work as a consultant. But after reading some of the comments here, it doesn't sound very enticing anymore.

No full registration to foreign grad? That doesn't sound very nice.

Can anyone give me some input on life and earning of radiologists in Singapore?
Most people want to go AU NZ to practise and you wanna come here? What's the reason?

Have you read this:
Doctors’ pay | Salary.sg - Your Salary in Singapore
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