I (L) Malaysia, but does Malaysia (L) me?
It somehow seems inappropriate to criticise an entity that will pay for your livelihood for the next few years. Hence perhaps it is better to view the idiosyncrasies encountered in a positive light.
To apply for a pharmacy job in Malaysia is like a test for your adeptness to Malaysian way of life, especially for those studying abroad. Those who think a government who constantly cries for its sons and daughters in far away land to ‘come back to mommy!’ will glorified those who did heed the call with pomp and pageantry is in for a shock. Janganlah jadi anak Malaysia mudah lupa seems to be the general tone of things.
The “Come back to happy Mommy!” illusion.
First, lets start off with some hearty congratulations. Kudos to the government who deserved praise for having such a foresight to set such a good introductory course for aspiring pharmacists so that they will view further red tape and befuddled information as part and parcel of Malaysian life.
Yes, so you have graduated overseas in a good University. And being a patriotic student with all the semangat and intention to enhance the wellbeing of the general rakyat, you decided to do what others choose not to do: you are going home!
Here comes the first step. how to apply for a pharmacy job? Well there seems to be no written instructions online. Alas zaman IT still is in its infancy in Malaysia. But never mind, someone back home say people now apply through the SPA website. So you go to the website. And lo and behold there seems to be more than one way to apply. And it was assured that all the ways are equivalent. It was only later from friend of friend that I knew calling up SPA was the way to go.
In the SPA website, it was written there that while you are waiting for their reply, fill a form with the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM) and Pharmacy Board of Malaysia (LFM). So off I go to the LFM website. The form was there! Hurray! But hold on! here it stated that to only fill in the form when you got the appointment letter from SPA. So who’s correct?? Lets go to KKM website to check. But the KKM form seems not to be online. But there’s an enquiry section! Where I had sent an email into oblivion.
Finally two months later, we all JPA pharmacy kids managed to figure the correct procedure out. At last we finally got out of the amazing maze!
My happy face after negotiating the maze.
And so off we go went for an interview. The questions ranged from “how we choose the Agong?” to “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend”. It all depends on the interviewers, but from what I heard, nobody doing pharmacy is going to fail the interview (because we have a shortage of pharmacist!). I asked them, “so when will I get a job?”. A few weeks, they said. You know, government got a lot of red tapes. At least they were straightforward. We need to discuss it in a few meetings and liaise between three departments.
After three months of idling around, the letter finally came. Yes congrats, you got Sarawak. Now Sarawak got three hospitals that they can send you to. Kuching, Sibu and Miri. And no, you can’t know which hospital you are going to be sent, no matter if you call them or go visit them personally at KKM. When you go and lapor diri on the first day of work at the KKM head office in Kuching, then you will know (even though they look like they do know). What about if I’m from, lets say Sibu? Oh, fly down to Kuching and lapor diri first. If you get Sibu, fly back. If you get Kuching, fly back to Sibu, collect your belongings and fly back to Kuching and start work. Come on lah, Malaysia must help its own industry. Now the aviation industry in the doldrums, go support them!
Fly Malaysian Airlines. Frequently.
But then, before you get angry and frustrated about Malaysia, remember that all this is actually a well-conceived personality test. It tests your patience and ability in problem solving. Teaches you the value of keeping in touch with friends too. We here only accept the best people! It aren’t supposed to be easy, as at the finishing line of this 110m hurdles lies a well-paying, secured and glamorous job (hopefully).
To all my juniors in VCP, since I love you all so much, here’s really how to apply for a pharmacy job in Malaysia (for overseas grad).
1. Call up the SPA directly to arrange for an interview ASAP. The telephone number is available on the SPA website. Currently this is only applicable to pharmacy, medic and dentistry students studying overseas. Don’t apply online, they take ages to reply (if they reply at all).
2. After you passed the interview (seems its just a formality), they will send you an offer letter within two weeks. Send back the attached acceptance form immediately. Once you get the offer letter, you can apply for a provisional registered pharmacist licence from the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia, which is available from their website. In the meantime, also go to Kementerian Kesihatan office to fill in a “Borang Maklumat Diri”.
3. Once you are registered with the pharmacy board (you can call them up to rush them), your info will be sent to the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia, who will then place you in a State (also can call to rush them). They will then send you a letter to tell you when and where to report yourself to.
Sounds simple, but trust me, it is only so after you had gone through the whole rigmarole. Good luck in your on-coming exams!