With so many options, it is wise to do your homework before deciding on a course of study. Azurin Rahim takes a snapshot of what‘s on offer
Tuition fees for these courses can be expensive, especially in private institutions of higher learning around the country.
In the public institutions of higher learning, students are charged tuition fees of around RM9,000 for the duration of their study, as tuition fees in the public institutions are highly subsidised by the government.
However, places are limited. In private institutions, on the other hand, students can expect to pay up to RM 400,000 for a degree in medicine, RM200,000 for pharmacy and a whopping RM500,000 for a degree in dentistry, depending on where they decide to study. Overseas, the costs are even higher. For example, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in the US, a medical student will be expected to fork out up to USD 40,000 for their first year alone, which translates to more than RM120,000.
Dentistry is the applied science of conditions relating to the teeth, gums and oral cavity in general. Oral health usually gives clues to one’s overall health therefore, dentistry is a critical branch of medical sciences.
The demand for dentists in Malaysia is still high. According to the International Medical University (IMU) Malaysia , there is a ratio of one dentist to every 8,000 people, which means that the job opportunities are still wide open for graduates.
Requirements to undergo a degree programme in dentistry are quite strict. In order to enrol for a dentistry course, a student should have at least pre-university qualifications, with a CGPA of 3.5 or equivalent. Students should also make sure that the institution they apply to is recognised by the Malaysian Dental Association, or it would be difficult for them to obtain a certificate of practice in the future.
Just like the field of medicine, there are certain steps to be taken by a dental graduate before being able to start practicing or specialising in dentistry. A degree in dentistry takes about five years to complete, after which graduates have to undergo a period of compulsory service for the government for three years.
For a list of the universities that offer dentistry courses recognised by the Medical Dental Council www.mdc.moh.gov.my
Pharmacy is the application of a combination of medical sciences and the study of chemistry in order to ensure the safe manufacturing and treatment of drugs for the purpose of treating diseases. This is an increasingly popular course amongst students. According to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Pharmaceutical Services Division, the number of newly registered pharmacists are increasing each year, with 750 new pharmacists being registered in 2010 as opposed to 379 five years prior.
In terms of demand, Malaysia is well on its way to achieving the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ideal pharmacy to population ratio of 1:2,000 with this year‘s ratio being projected at 1:2,928 by the MOH’s Pharmaceutical Services Division.
As with medicine and dentistry, pharmacy courses also have stringent entry requirements. Pre-university students have to achieve CGPAs of at least 3.5 and above (or results equivalent to that number) before being admitted into a degree programme.
A degree programme takes approximately four years, and students should make sure that the degree is one that is recognised by the Malaysian Board of Pharmacists. A student pharmacist must complete a year of internship and subsequently a year of compulsory service with the government.
A final year student will have to apply to the Public Service Commission and go for an interview. Successful candidates will be placed at a teaching hospital during internship and be rotated through different departments. After completing a year of internship, the pharmacist continues on to complete a year of government service based on a posting order issued by the MOH. A posting order places a pharmacist in a hospital run by the MOH and may be located anywhere in Malaysia. Next, he or she will have to go through a Pharmacy Forensic/Jurisprudence Examination before being able to specialise or practice.
For a list of the universities that are recognised www.pharmacy.gov.my
Medicine is not an easy course. A medical student has to complete five long years of degree programme, and once they graduate, have to work for long and stressful hours. On top of that, other people’s lives are in their hands, so they would have to be very careful about the decisions they make and the things they do. Yet, this is one of the most rewarding professions to be in, which explains why so many school leavers are rushing to get medical degrees.
The minimum requirement for getting into a course in medicine is quite stringent. According to the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), students have to obtain at least Bs in SPM in biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics (or additional mathematics), plus one other subject. In pre-university, a student has to achieve a CGPA of at least 3.0 or equivalent.
The first three years of a degree in medicine are spent in the classroom, learning the theories. After that, the students have to undergo clinical practice in government hospitals for two years – each institution that offers a medical degree will have tie-ups with hospitals where their students can carry out their clinical practice before they graduate. The journey does not end there, though. Upon graduation, they have to apply for a provisional registration to the MMC and complete a housemanship for a minimum of two years before being able to receive a practicing certificate from MMC. They then have to go through a compulsory service with the government for a duration of two years before finally being able to join a private practice or specialise in a field of choice.
Students who are hoping to go into medicine have to keep in mind that the institution they choose has to be recognised by the MMC, be it local or foreign, or they might end up disappointed and stuck with a useless degree.
For a list of the accredited institutions and hospitals www.mmc.gov.my