The Journey to Becoming a Medical Specialist

Time commitment in medical school

Medical school is a long-term commitment. It can easily take over a decade for a person to become a medical specialist. Obtaining a medical degree alone will take five years. Furthermore, unlike other professions, medical graduates will not yet be considered qualified medical personnel. In Malaysia, it is compulsory for them to undergo housemanship for two years, during which they will rotate among specialist wards like General Medicine, General Surgery, Orthopaedics, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Emergency Medicine.

Subsequently, pursuing a master’s degree in medicine to specialise takes another four to five years of studying and two years of on-the-job training. This adds up to at least 13 years of medical education for one to become a specialist.

A career of continuous learning

As there will always be new challenges or treatments emerging in the field of medicine, there is always a possibility that prior knowledge gained may be outdated by the time students officially start practising, or even throughout their medical career. This is where a love for lifelong learning is essential. Doctors have to constantly be on top of things, and one of the best ways is to further their studies.

To specialise or not to specialise?

Malaysia is presently facing a shortage of medical specialists. The country requires 10,614 specialists but currently only have approximately 7,000. Thus, doctors are strongly encouraged to specialise to meet this demand.

Those who are keen to specialise can choose programmes that provide them with the flexibility to juggle work, personal commitments and further study at the same time. For instance, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) offers highly interactive online postgraduate courses in Clinical Research, Oncology and Palliative Care studies, as well as Medical Education. Students are able to study at ease, anytime and anywhere. These programmes are developed and administered by Newcastle University, UK, allowing students to receive quality UK education and gain worldwide recognition at a significantly lower cost, without having to leave Malaysia.

Newcastle University is among the best British universities for medicine and has gained a global reputation for research excellence. The university ranks among the top 10 universities in the UK for overall quality of research in Pre-Clinical and Clinical Medicine 2019, and was awarded 5 stars in research from QS Quacquarelli Symonds 2018.

For more information on NUMed’s postgraduate studies, visit

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