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  • Writer's pictureLavanya Narayanan

Exploring a Career in Internal Medicine in Malaysia: "The Medical Detective"

What is Internal Medicine?

A career in internal medicine in Malaysia can be a rewarding and fulfilling choice for medical professionals. Internal medicine, also known as general internal medicine or general medicine, is a vast and diverse field that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of medical conditions in adults. There is a growing demand for qualified internal medicine specialists in Malaysia, as the country faces numerous health challenges and a rapidly ageing population. This article will delve into the opportunities and challenges of pursuing a career in internal medicine in Malaysia, providing insights into education, training, job prospects, and potential hurdles.

Who are internal medicine physicians & What do they do?

Internal medicine doctors, also known as internists, are medical doctors who specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of adult diseases. They are trained to provide comprehensive care to adults, including physical examinations, diagnostic testing, and treatment for a wide range of conditions affecting the body's major organ systems.

Internists may also coordinate care with other healthcare providers, such as primary care doctors, surgeons, gynaecologists, etc to ensure that their patients receive the most appropriate and effective treatment.

Have you watched House MD?

Internal Medicine Training in Malaysia

Undergraduate Training

To become an internal medicine specialist in Malaysia, one must first complete a basic medical degree (MBBS or MD) from a recognized institution. Medical education in Malaysia generally consists of a 5-year program, with the first two years covering basic medical sciences and the remaining three years focused on clinical training.

Upon completing their medical degree, graduates must register with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and undergo a compulsory 2-year housemanship in accredited hospitals. This hands-on training includes rotations in various medical and surgical departments, including internal medicine.

Postgraduate Training in Internal Medicine

Following housemanship, aspiring internists must complete a postgraduate program in internal medicine. In Malaysia, there are 2 primary pathways for postgraduate training:

  1. Master of Medicine (Internal Medicine): This three to four-year program, offered by local universities, consists of a combination of clinical rotations, coursework, research, and examinations.

  • One may pursue the Master of Medicine as a scholarship awarded by the government through the Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) or as a privately- funded candidate.

  • Training takes place at a government university with clinical rotations at a government university hospital and/or government hospitals.

2. Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP):

The MRCP is a postgraduate diploma awarded by the UK's Royal Colleges of Physicians. Candidates must pass 3 examinations (MRCP Part 1, Part 2, and PACES) and complete a minimum of 4 years of postgraduate medical training.

Upon passing the first part of the summative assessments, i.e MRCP Part 1, doctors may register with the training body called the Internal Medicine Parallel Pathway Training in Malaysia

For further information on this section can be referred to the National PostGraduate Medical Curriculum (NPMC)


Becoming a board certified internal medicine physician in Malaysia

Upon completion of training, one must go through a gazettement phase(independent practice under supervision) before being registered to the board.

This phase can be undertaken at a:

  • government hospitals - if one's employment is under the Ministry of Health)

  • government universities - if one's employment is under the Ministry of Higher Education

  • private hospitals - if one's employment is under the said private hospital that offers this facility (i.e KPJ University College)

Based on the requirements for gazettement for the respective settings above, you will have to complete the submission of documentations to your employer and proceed with submission of required documents to the National Specialist Register (NSR).

Subspecialties in Internal Medicine

Internal medicine covers several subspecialties, each focusing on a specific organ system or disease category.

Listed here are the subspecialties that are recognised in our National Specialist Register (NSR).

  • Cardiology: This subspecialty deals with the diagnosis and treatment of heart-related diseases and conditions.

  • Endocrinology: Endocrinologists specialize in hormone-related disorders, such as diabetes and thyroid conditions.

  • Gastroenterology: Gastroenterologists focus on the digestive system and its associated diseases.

  • Infectious Diseases: This subspecialty involves the management of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections.

  • Nephrology: Nephrologists treat kidney diseases and disorders, including chronic kidney disease and renal failure.

  • Pulmonology: Pulmonologists specialize in respiratory system disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia.

and a variety more which can be found 👇

Why Choose Internal Medicine?

Internal Medicine is a challenging and rewarding field that requires a high level of clinical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and the ability to communicate effectively with patients and colleagues. Internal Medicine specialists in Malaysia work in a range of settings, including government hospitals, private hospitals, and clinics.

One of the main advantages of pursuing a career in Internal Medicine is the breadth of medical knowledge and skills that can be acquired. Internal Medicine specialists are often referred to as "medical detectives" due to their ability to diagnose and manage complex medical conditions. They are also responsible for managing patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Another advantage of pursuing a career in Internal Medicine is the opportunity for professional development and career progression. Internal Medicine specialists can choose to sub-specialize in areas such as Cardiology, Respiratory Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Neurology, among others. They can also pursue academic careers and contribute to medical research and education.

What are the challenges in Internal Medicine?

There are also challenges to pursuing a career in Internal Medicine. One of the main challenges is the high level of responsibility and workload. Internal Medicine specialists are often responsible for managing multiple patients with complex medical conditions and require a high level of organizational and time-management skills to balance their workload effectively.

Another challenge is the high level of competition for training positions and job opportunities. The MRCP qualification is highly sought after and is a prerequisite for many training positions and job opportunities in Internal Medicine. As such, candidates must be prepared to work hard and maintain a high level of academic achievement to be competitive in the job market.


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