Why Psychiatry?

Why Psychiatry?

If I could collect 1 ringgit for every time I received this enquiry…I wouldn’t have to do on-calls for 2 months without suffering any financial setback. 😉

You see, even my own mother questioned my decision to devote myself into this field. Her argument consisted of “okay, you know you can do whatever you like. Not like I can force you about anything. But what would people think?”

That was when I would look at her with a raised eyebrow and gently inquired, “What exactly would people think, mother?”

And furthermore, if I ever become unhappy with my life, would those people whose opinion we care about give a damn about me?

Nope, they won’t.

My misery would be my own.

And therefore, this decision would have to be based on myself and my preference alone.

Besides, nowadays it is no longer considered de rigeur to seem too desirous for the good opinion of others. Haha. And thus, when I filled up my form to choose psychiatry as my field of dedication, I did that thinking about myself alone.

There are times when I received statements like ‘Sayanglaaa hang masuk psychiatry…”

I just smiled. I have a secret that they haven’t found out.


I knew I could be happy as an MO of anything. Compared to housemanship, life as any MO would be rosy. After two years, FINALLY, I could wave goodbye to the life as a Hamba Orang (HO).

But being an MO of a field that you actually like, would make you even happier, right? Why become just happy when you could become happier?

When I was a student, I had short-listed 3 rotations that I had an interest in. One of them was O+G (can you believe it?) But after my first posting, I have thrown that option beyond the realm of comprehension.

Another one of my interests was A&E and that was why I made A&E as my last posting. I really truly enjoyed my posting in A&E and I wouldn’t mind being retained there.

Last but not least, I had really truly loved my psychiatry rotation when I was in my 4th and 5th year. When I was in my 3rd year, I even made psychiatry as my elective. The patients were deuced entertaining. When they became aggressive, I just pretended that life had become less mundane and more adventurous. The staffs were laid back and funny. The meetings were hilarious, at times. There was no stress at all. I could devote so much time for one patient. I could listen to amazingly creative stories (romance and sci-fi all rolled into one) and have a chuckle about it among ourselves.

How on earth could I resist liking psychiatry, you tell me? I never stood a chance.

Besides what other field would suit me, really? I could’t do medical…I am not that brilliant nor am I that rajin. Look at the way they do casualty call. Tabik spring, beb! I couldn’t do that.

I couldn’t do any sort of surgery, Ortho included. I am clumsy with my hands. When I was in my year of PMR, my Kemahiran Hidup project was terrible. All the carpentry and the sewing….I hated them. It stands to reason that I would really suck at stitches and any sort of handcrafts. It is diabolical to think about how many possible ways I could ruin my patients’ life with my lack of hand skills. So surgery and Ortho are not for me.

As for paeds …I have zero interest in paeds. As a student, I was not very good at it. My professor at the John Hunter Hospital didn’t really think I was cut out to become a paediatrician and I agree with her.


I was broken-hearted when I found out that I was placed in ENT. Without trying to sound like I had an auditory hallucination, I could actually hear my heart shattering into tiny little pieces. (hmm, if that doesn’t make me sound a bit histrionic, I don’t know what does).

At first, I thought I should just give up and consign myself to my fate. I mean, ENT is not bad, right? I have nothing against ENT. I have some friends there. Furthermore, I know that the department is made up of nice people when I was attached there as a surgical houseman. I could like it after given some time, I thought.

But, Wallahi, I couldn’t rest easy. I am not good at ENT; I knew that almost instinctively. And I could no longer force myself to do something that I am not good at. I would be miserable. It would be like doing Add Maths and Physics all over again….you can obtain an A in those subjects, eventually (if you try hard enough), but the toiling and the journey will not be enjoyable. It will not be…fun!

Thus, I resolved to meet with the Pengarah and appealed for psychiatry. Initially, she said that there was no more empty spot to be filled up in psychiatry. I then insisted that if that was the case, then put me in casualty. Let me float in casualty until there is a spot for me in psychiatry. As I have mentioned before, I enjoyed A&E as a HO; imagine how much more enjoyable it would be as an MO, haha. And besides, I would be able to a see large spectrum of cases in A&E, which would be an experience that I could apply to my psychiatry patients who are sure to have a variety of underlying diseases other than their psychiatric illnesses.

But somehow, someway (Thank God!!) they finally decided to put me in Psychiatry, after all. And I remembered thinking that AT LAST!, I will know how it feels to love one’s job.


“Make your passion your occupation and you don’t have to work for the rest of your life,” said somebody wise.

And here I am, following those words of wisdom; turning my passion into my occupation.

So far, the journey has been great. No regrets.

Well, at least, not yet.


24 thoughts on “Why Psychiatry?

  1. Cat

    Hi afiza. Hope residency is treating you well. I just have a question, this may not be relevant but like they all say, curiosity kills the cat. LOL.

    I was just wondering what did you get for your trial and for the actual SPM examination during your high school years. You seem like a person who excelled even during high your school years.


    1. Hi there, Cat. Alhamduillah residency is treating me really well. Are u in the medical field as well? Like u, i am a curious cat and if u ever come back, do indulge me by answering.

      I suppose it is only good humour to indulge another curious cat. I couldn’t actually recall with any precision what I actually got for my trial but I do remember that I only got 6As; and I did quite terribly in Add Maths and Physics; maybe a C.

      Alhamdulillah I decided to work harder for my SPM and obtained the oh-so-important straight As for it.

      Now looking back, I realize that spm result was only a stepping stone to obtaining your life’s dream. Not the be all and end all that we all seemed to think at that time.

      And in my case, it didn;t even help me to obtain my real dream – to become a lawyer. The hand of fate deals in mysterious ways, I always say.
      But that’s another story for another day.


  2. assalamualaikum Dr. I am 4th year medical student currently studying in UK. I really enjoy reading your entry about psychiatric. I develop a great interest in psychiatric since my 2nd year but i do wonder about the pathway to specialise in psychiatric in Malaysia. Hope you can provide me with an insight about how it works in Malaysia.
    thanks a lot…


    1. Waalaikumussalam .
      4th year already. Not long to go now, right?
      Once you come back to Malaysia, you have to complete 2 years of housemanship and eventhough this period was not a walk in the beach, in hindsight, it gives you the basic that you need to be a good doctor. Prior to finishing your last posting, you will get to fill up a form stating 3 places/departments you would like to be an MO at. Sometimes you might get your first choice, sometimes you don’t. Once you have worked for 3 years, and if you fulfill certain criterias, you may apply for master…that takes about 3-4 years.
      In Malaysia MRCPsych is yet to be recognised. So there’s only the master option at the moment.

      Hope that helps. And good luck in your studies.


      1. Salam
        Thanx for sharing your experience
        I just completed my hoship
        I’m now floating in anesth
        I’ve filled that form earlier on
        And they’ve placed me in pahang
        JKNpahang have yet to inform me where exactly
        I’m also interested in psy
        Unfortunately in that form I didn’t write which dept I want exactly
        Most of us wrote which negeri we want.(I think the asked us to write that only)
        How can I make sure I get the dept I want? Am I too late?


        1. If you are from one state and want to transfer to another then you didnt get to choose specific dept yet. Once you are already in the jkn of that state…only then you get to apply specifically where you want to go in that state; either district hospitals, or KK or GH. If GH, then you may state which dept you want. This might involve some waiting time and patience on your part.
          Hope it helps.


      2. Salam
        Thanks for sharing your blog
        I just completed hoship
        Now floating in anesth awaiting for placement at pahang by JKN
        I too am interested in psy
        Unfortunately I didn’t put my dept of interest in that form . Most of us just put the preferried negeri as what was asked for.
        How can I get what I want after this.
        Do I ask from jkn pahang or am I too late and they just place me wherever?


  3. dee

    Salam. 🙂
    It’s so inspiring to see someone chasing their dreams.
    I’m interested in psy as well.currently a ho doing my 5th posting.
    I just wanna ask your opinion.
    As u know we now can choose psy as our 6th ho posting. N I’m confused whether to choose….psy or ed. if i choose psy most probably I’ll get it.since it’s new n all. But I’m afraid if I choose psy then when I become an mo n I don’t get psy, ed experience will help a lot if I get thrown to any other departments.. maybe you can give me some insight?
    P/s: is mrcpsy still not recognized?


    1. Wasalam dee,

      I suggest you choose casualty. Because you can learn psychiatry as an MO later. Psy is relatively easy to learn.
      But the experience you will get in casualty as a HO, you will not get as an MO. In casualty, you learn a lot. Not least of it is how to work fast, how to prioritize, how to refer in such a way that your case will be accepted right away haha.
      Furthermore, if you are planning to supplement your income with locum money later, your experience in ED will help a great deal.
      So don’t hesitate…choose ED. You can learn psychiatry later if you are truly interested.

      MRCpsych already recognized now. That’s what I am planning to take, insyaAllah.


  4. Kieron

    hello, reading your post was truly informative. I’m currently in my housemanship doing my 5th posting, I would like to enquire, is MRCPsych recognised in Malaysia and if it is, am I eligible for it without having any prior work training in UK? I’m asking because I read somewhere that only people with prior work experience in UK or the EU may apply. Please advise.


  5. medstudent

    Hey afiz, im in final year med now. im thinking of doing psychiatry. lets say after housemanship, and i dont get posted to psych as an MO, what options do i have?
    1. appeal?
    2. can i take a break till a spot opens up in the psych dept?
    3. any other means?


    1. Dear med student,

      I am happy that you have expressed interest in doing psychiatry.Don’t worry about it yet. Finish your med school first. Finish your housemanship first. Get that hurdle out of the picture, first.
      Then, you can worry about your psych posting once you are 3 months away from becoming an MO.


  6. Affifi Hussen

    I’m doing physics and engineering in the US now. I’m thinking of going to a med school and be a psychiatrist. Psychiatrist in the US will not offer any psychotherapy because it is time-consuming and they are charged by the hour – the insurance company wouldn’t want that. Medical expenses in the US can be insanely expensive. So the psychiatrist will only monitor the patients for meds prescription. My question is: do psychiatrists in malaysia offer psychotherapy? Thank you


    1. Is there any reason why you wanna change into a totally different field. Some paychiatrist do psychotherapy too. It depends on you to pursue your own interest… some only do supportive counselling, some would do psychodynamic psychotherapy, some would do CBT or interpersonal therapy…. but mostly these are done by clinical psychologist.

      Even in the US (or anywhere in the world, really) psychiatrists can do psychotherapy… but they must be trained first to do it. Our turf is more on medication…because clinical psychologists cannot prescribe meds. Only psychiatrists can.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s