The Perks of Membership

Assalamualaikum and good day guys,

Today is 10/10/2020. If you are working in Psychiatry, you would know that today is World Mental Health Day! So, Happy World Mental Health Day, guys!

This post is dedicated to  MRCPsych candidates who might be feeling quite discouraged to continue on their MRCPsych journey for whatever reason. The September 2020 CASC results just came out and candidates who didn’t make it are probably feeling a bit dejected. But keep holding on, guys, as Avril Lavigne would have told you (Or sing for you, Haha. That song is one of my favourites from her)

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First of all, guys… you know, you are not alone. Allah is nearer to you than your jugular vein. You are NEVER alone!

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All of us at some point or other would have experienced that sense of impending doom and hopelessness about exams while undergoing the perils of MRCPsych journey. Just recognize that your feelings are normal. One day, when you have passed all the hurdles of the exams, you will surely be able to look back on all these turmoil fondly and with a poignant sense of nostalgia (but at the same time, you know you do NOT want to go through the experience ever again even as you are tenderly reminiscing all the memories hahah). You would be able to tell yourself that “Wow…I had my troubles in my MRCPsych journey too… but I persevered, I kept going and here I am, Alhamdulillah.”  One day, you will say the same thing I said when I passed. Life will be sweet again for awhile. And then, life goes on, guys. Life will keep happening to you. And you will face even more challenges one after another until the day you die.

And once you have made it (and you WILL, Insya Allah), never ever forget to help your juniors to pass too. Motivate them. Don’t let them wallow in self pity for too long when they fail any part of their exams. Make them pick themselves up and continue till the end.

Because it is worth it.

Not because you get to be a specialist (though that is part of it). But because you attain self-actualization once you have passed your exams. Being a specialist means you can do more for your patients. You can make your own decisions and be independent. You are basically investing in your freedom to do the right thing and not being under the thumb of people you may not like. Of course at the end of the day, everyone is inherently free regardless of whether they are a HO, an MO, a specialist or a consultant. If push comes to shove, you can always disagree and go against someone higher than you and simply make yourself face the consequences. We have free will to do what we want to do or what we have to do. But of course we have to face the consequences. But we ARE free!

But if I am going into any battle, I prefer to do it with a better weapon and a greater strength than I have as an MO. You know what I mean?

Having that qualification is that weapon! Having the knowledge is that weapon! Belonging to a world-recognized organization is that weapon.

As you mature into your career, you will find that even consultants disagree with one another’s management. But since they are BOTH consultants, their disagreement (openly or secretly) will not cause them much discomfort in the workplace. They have staked their territories, so to speak.

Can an MO disagree with her superior? Of course! And if you disagree with your consultant, you are not necessarily wrong. And if your consultant disagrees with you, he or she is not necessarily right. But in general, it would put you in a very uncomfortable and awkward place to be openly disagreeing with them because you are, ehem, “just an MO”. Unfortunately, people in Malaysia don’t always respect facts, my dear comrades. They respect the superficiality of hierarchy rather than anything else. And this is true in any field, in any organization, political or otherwise. This is the system! And up to a certain point, we have to respect the system. (But everything has its limits. And you MUST know your limit. Don’t be a doormat or a pushover!) 

To me, the perks of membership is freedom! Self-actualization too! And the respect that comes along with it! (even though I have mentioned before that no matter who you are – specialists or MOs – you can be wrong and you can be right and people should respect facts rather than positions! But unfortunately…realistically, you need the position to be able to do the right thing, sometimes!  I hope I will NOT become a specialist who would end up making wrong decisions just because I refuse to listen to my MOs who might know the patient more than I do. I hope, I will never be like that. In Alor Setar, specialists and consultants are very nice… but I have heard A LOT of stories from other places who have narcissistic specialists who make the lives of their MOs difficult with their unreasonableness and stubborn attitude. So, don’t you want to escape from that? I would have wanted to! And membership gives you that ticket!)

In some places or universities, MOs become anxious when they want to discuss cases with their specialists because some of those specialists would scold them first before helping them or those specialists would downgrade the MOs’ self worth before proceeding to give them their input! That kind of specialists are sickening! If I were the MOs under such specialists, I would confront them! If you are not interested in Psychiatry and therefore become annoyed whenever your MOs need to consult with you, you shouldn’t have become a specialist in the first place just to make the lives of your MOs hell. You better buck up and earn your Elaun Pakar, okay! Some MOs dread discussing cases so much that they might not want to discuss cases that they already roughly know how to manage. But at the same time, they are TOLD to discuss and not discussing will also cause trouble to them should anything untoward happen to the patient.

You see…. I can confront anyone if I feel that their behavior is unacceptable. Because Alhamdulillah… I have enough privilege to be able to do that. I work because I love working… not because I need every single cent of my salary to pay for my kids’ education or for luxurious house or fancy cars. I live very moderately and I know that should I decide to fight against anyone, my family would be supportive of me even if I risk my job. So that is why if I think my patient has a different diagnosis rather than the one that my specialist thinks,  (maybe undiagnosed Autism and NOT Schizophrenia, for example), I will say it and make them listen. And if I think the patient should be admitted even if we are practicing in a community setting, I will insist on it even if I have to be tiresome and forceful about it. Because I am doing the work that I love and I want to do it properly. And lucky me, in Alor Setar, specialists are open minded and receptive to differences of opinions without too much tense politics going on. But in other places or in certain universities…. I am not so sure.

I have heard so much stories of rude specialists, consultants, and professors, not just in Psychiatry but also in other fields too and not just in KKM but also in universities. In fact, I would say that Psychiatry probably has the least malignant superiors compared to other fields (but I could be wrong). However, it doesn’t change the fact that things like these happen even in Psychiatry. Don’t lie or try to deny it. (These are the things that are told to me… I NEVER experience any of those horror stories myself. Are these stories exaggerated? Maybe! But I have heard so MANY that even if a small percentage of that stories are true, it is STILL unacceptable!)

When you are an MO, you might have to grin and bear the bad treatment.  (But please know your limit, guys. Don’t tolerate harassment, assault and blackmails! Please! Negara kita ada undang-undang, okay!). But as a specialist, you have more rooms to fight for your rights with much less consequences compared to when you are an MO.

So if ever you find yourself questioning whether or not you should continue on your journey… well, think about what I have said and adjust your intention. You want to become a specialist so that you can have the freedom to do more and to do better for your patients without having to listen to the instructions of someone you disagree with! And should people make your life difficult, you can always pack up and go private or go overseas.

Freedom! Self-actualization! Self-respect! Knowledge increment! Job satisfaction! Those are the perks that you will get once you have gained your membership qualification, Insya Allah. You will love psychiatry even more.

And the 2-3 psychiatry journals per month that I receive from the college is just heavenly! (Though postage from the UK always arrived a few months late to Malaysia. I would receive the August journals in October and the October journals in December! Adeh.) I love the reading materials that the college provides for all its members. The college never let you become complacent with your knowledge and will always provide you with hard copies of your journals every month, as well as newsletters, online CMEs and online quizzes to upgrade your knowledge and keep you up to date!

And this time, guys, you are reading for your own knowledge and for your own pleasure. NOT for exams! If you really love psychiatry, you will love the perks of getting the journals for free.

Every month, I will receive journals such as British Journal of Psychiatry, BJ Bulletin, and BJ International. And every day you will receive a few emails from the many subspecialties of the college (Liaison, Perinatal, Rehab, Sprititual Psychiatry, Philosophy Special Interest Group, etc etc) They have more subspecialties and special interest groups compared to Malaysia too! Your eyes will be wide open to the many branches of psychiatry you don’t really get exposed to as a student.

I know how some of you didn’t make it in the September 2020 CASC and might feel a bit disheartened. But don’t give up, okay! In the end, Insya Allah, you will make it. Remember, it is not yet an ending unless it is a happy ending. (Well, that’s what I believe anyway. If you don’t give up, none of your setback is an ending yet, right? There will be more to the story of your life if you continue your journey. Work for your happy ending, guys! Allah rewards you for your effort. Persevere and pray!)

And I would like to take this opportunity to wish good luck to those who will be taking their CASC this month (19-23 October 2020). And also all the best to those who are awaiting their Part B results this coming November. I hope and I pray that you guys will get your happy endings! Once you’ve made it, be a good and helpful specialist to your MOs.

I leave you guys with a spontaneous video I made two days ago upon receiving three more journals on top of the many more that I haven’t yet read. I am inundated and swamped with reading materials, it is overwhelming, LOL. But it is an awesome kind of overwhelmed feelings… not the bad kind. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I chose to do MRCPsych and persevere on this journey. And I am overwhelmed with humility that I finally made it with the grace of Allah.

Until next time my dear comrades. All the best!

Yours In Camaraderie,

10/10/2020

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