Tired of being a chronic MO? Try this...

10:03 AM

So, you graduated from medical school, completed housemanship and done being a medical officer for two years. That's close to a decade gone in a flash. You're not really sure what to do, but you know you need to at least get into a masters program.The typical specialties such as surgery, orthopedic, pediatrics and ophthalmology doesn't appeal to you....what else to do? Just wait for naik pangkat?

One Pint Normal Saline

Maybe you should have a look at Masters in Area of Special Interest. Scholarships are available for Ministry of Health staff under its Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) program. Applications are usually opened in July (the same time as the other specialization programs). Among the programs available are:

There are a few other programs available but I have lost my original copy (I will update once I find it). They may add or omit a few programs this year. However, it is not easy to get the HLP. The process can be really competitive and some aspects of application process is filled with bureaucracy. But if you really want something, YOU WILL work hard for it...this includes getting through the red tape.

Prior to getting called for the HLP interview, I have already applied for a placement at a foreign university. I have been getting some inquiries from my friends on how to go about it; so here goes.

1. Decide on what you WANT to do and WHY you want to do it...then, WHERE you want to study.

I find this really important. If I had not answered these questions myself, I could have easily given up out of frustrations.

When there is a will, there is a way. If you still don't succeed, you end up smarter and more experienced.

2. Find out about the program offered and the university background.

Do not apply for a not so established university just for the sake of studying overseas. You have to make sure that the atmosphere of the town is suitable for you. I was fortunate to have contacted a senior to find out about a certain course and university. Furthermore, you might have trouble getting scholarships as most scholarships only accept applicants from the Top 100 universities.

3. Apply for the program online.

All the universities that I applied for had an online systems in place. It is very convenient and you can save the progress of your application. You do need to have a few things at hand though (other than your degree and transcripts).
a. Brief account of your work experience
b. An essay about yourself and why the program appeals to you
c. Referees; in my case TWO referees. Referees can be your past superiors. Just get them to write something nice (but truthful) about you (related to work).

4. Interview

If your application is successful, the department will arrange for an online interview. I had mine using skype. They won't call via mobile phone, but they can call via a land line. The interview process was rather pleasant. Fortunately I managed to lose my rojak-ness and lah during the interview. What I noticed with Brits is, they are really frank and forthcoming. I felt really relaxed with the way they talked and how their approach is to discussions. They were impressed that I had an interest in blogging. Imagine what would happen if I told an interviewer in Malaysia that I blog....sure cantas one!

5. Accept conditional letter offer

If you managed to pass the interview with flying colors, then you need to fulfill their conditions. Other than providing proof of your transcript, visa approvals and financing arrangements; the most dreadful part is passing IELTS. The university I am applying for sets a passing mark of at least 7.0 out of 9.0. Being cheapskate that I am, I would have to pass it on the first try....its RM 630 for a test! Fortunately I passed with a 7.5 and you can read my Tips for IELTS.

The million dollar question now is:


I'm waiting for a scholarship. No money, no go. Easy as that. Even with my investments going on, I can't make up for the cost of studying overseas...at least not by the end of this year. In the meantime, I'm scouting for scholarship offers.

Regardless what happens, I still feel a sense of accomplishment. The government may not be able to sponsor my studies because of the number of applicants and the current financial situation. The interviewer during my HLP interview may not think I am good enough. At least I have proven to myself and my detractors that I am good enough to be a master student in the UK.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You can view HLP application on e-hlp.moh.gov.my. For 2016/2017, the opening will be in end of April or early May. Good luck.

    1. Thanx....tapi rasa merajuk dah nak ambil HLP.haha

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Kira bagus la dah dapat scholarship. Passing IELTS shouldn't be a problem. Just do the sample questions available online & go through the tips on answering the questions.
      I applied for a non clinical program. Just wanted to learn something new


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