Director-General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (right) at a dialogue with Malaysian medical experts in London last Sunday.

LONDON: A second attempt to go home and serve the country by Endocrinology Consultant Dr Mohamad Saiful Bahari Mohd Kassim looks set to become a reality soon, 39 years after being away, thanks to TalentCorp.

Dr Saiful, 43, has been away from Malaysia since he was 12 when he was sent to study at Marlborough College in Wiltshire, where he developed an interest in medicine.

He went on to study medicine at the National University of Ireland in Galway. His first attempt to return and work in Malaysia found him unemployed for six months.

“So I came back to Ireland, and started working in the medical field and specialised in diabetes and endocrinology,” said Dr Saiful, who worked at the Derriford Hospital in Plymouth and quite recently at Torbay Hospital.

Like many others in TalentCorp’s Returning Experts Programme, the pull factor for Dr Saiful and his paediatrician wife, Dr Yohan Sabri, was their ageing parents.

“My mother is 74 and she can no longer come to visit her granddaughter, Aleesya. My father-in-law just had a stroke, so this is really the right time to go back,” said Dr Saiful, who attended a dialogue session by TalentCorp to engage Malaysian professionals working in the United Kingdom.

Dr Saiful’s second attempt to return, facilitated by TalentCorp, was also made easy by the fact that he had his specialisation, an issue that continually crops up among Malaysian medical professionals who attended the engagement at Park City Hotel last Sunday, with the highlight being a dialogue with Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Although Dr Saiful, like many other Malaysian medical professionals in the UK, was courted by hospitals in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore with lucrative offers, he had made his final choice to return to look after his and his wife’s parents and contribute to the country.

About 100 Malaysian professionals, among them cardiologists, dermatologists, geriatricians and academics, turned up during the two sessions.

Dr Noor Hisham told attendees that while these were exciting and challenging times in the transformation of healthcare in Malaysia with the increasing use of technology, those intending to return need to manage expectations.

He told those who want to continue to develop their careers in the UK that it was important they remain connected.

Sharing his experience as a returning expert was Dr Helmy Haja Mydin, a consultant respiratory physician at Pantai Specialist Hospital in Kuala Lumpur who returned after 14 years in Scotland.

Questions raised during the sessions were familiar to him — apprehensions about the system in Malaysia, the level at which they needed to apply to return, salaries and children’s education.

“The general rule of thumb was that you come back at a point where you are able to be a bit more independent and able to contribute more as well,” said Dr Helmy.

“It is useful to come back after you have completed training in a specialty, so that you can contribute on a different level as opposed to someone who needs training.”

Since TalentCorp started in 2011, it has facilitated about 7,000 Malaysian professionals globally and about 4,000 have been approved. The number who had returned is more than 2,000.

According to TalentCorp chief executive officer Shareen Shariza Abdul Ghani: “It is good that we go out and speak to Malaysian professionals, and when they decide to return, TalentCorp will have the process that will help them.”

Present were TalentCorp partners from Clinical Research Malaysia, Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council, Island Hospital Penang, KPJ Healthcare Bhd, Mahkota Medical Centre & Regency Specialist Hospital, Sunway Medical Centre, Tropicana Medical Centre and Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

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