A Doc's Life is a underground Medical Blog about some poor Singapore doctors. They are sibei sian and very buay song. Best practices not observed!
(Warning: Grammar is non existent in this blog. Those obsessively compulsive about good English please go no further and book an appointment to see your psychiatrist in Singapore.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Waiting Game II

Thank you all for the lively debate (quarrel rather) for my previous post. I declare the winner to be Australia. Seems like doctors are fed up with patients and the public even more so with doctors. And everyone thinks that immigrating to Australia is a solution to their grievances.

Until then, you chaps will still be stuck here (too bad) and the long queue in most clinics will not be improving anytime soon. So let Dr Og tell you ten things you must bring along for your next appointment to beat the waiting game!

1) Handphones are a requisite! Other than making calls to tell your boyfriend you will be late (again), girls can call their jie mei and gossip about the latest BGR in the office. You can also use it to knock the head of the chee ko pek who tries to sit too close to you. Most importantly, pretend to be calling the hosptial complaint unit in front of the counter so that they will put you to the front of the queue!

2) MP3 player. Some stupid people will forget to switch off their hp when they pretend to complain and the phone starts ringing from an incoming call! If that happens, you will automatically be thrown to the back of the queue! This is when your MP3 player comes in handy. What better to do than to listen to podcast? (Dr BL Og's podcast of Hokkien Kwa akan datang!) The Ipod is a perfect match for the hospital environment with its white sanitary look.

3) You must bring your favourite tidbits so that you have something to bite as you wait. Melon seeds and peanuts are highly recommended. You can scatter the shells all over the floor and make a mess in revenge for the long wait!!!!

4) Better also prepare some chrysanthemum tea or not wait eat too much nuts very HEATY! (Also please rinse your mouth before you see your doctor. Bad breathe is just not a good way to build rapport.)

5) Mr Bean's mask. Better to wear a mask before you pop your head into the doctor's consultation room to see what the hell he is doing taking so long. Like that he won't recognize you and be nasty later! You might just want to hide your face especially if its the Kelantan Clinic you are waiting at. (Mr Bean's mask is available for SIN$99.95, email me!)

6) Paper. Might as well note down whatever you want to tell the doctor so that you won't miss a thing during the one minute consultation!! Just shove it into his face and he will have to do your bidding!!!! You can also fold paper aeroplanes if you are really really bored (and Dr Og's out of tune podcast hokkien kua does not interest you!).

7) Pen. What do you want to write on the paper with??? Anyway sometimes you might need to sign certain documents and you sure don't want to use the doctor's pen. Who knows where he last poke his fingers????

8) Prepare some coins so as to buy more tidbits and drinks at the vending machine when you run out of your own supply! Coins are also good for tossing: heads means my turn next, tails means I gotta wait longer!

9) Did you know that some hospitals are WAP ready??? Now you can bring your laptop and serve the internet as you wait! Research on your own illness and beat the doctors in their own game!!!!!! (You can also keep refreshing sgdr.blogspot.com!)

10) Bring a mirror. Some of the patients look like ghosts after the long wait (no fault of theirs). Please brush off the cobwebs on your hair before you leave the clinic and go take bus.

You don't want to scare little school children do you????


  1. xiaoming7:24 PM

    loctor, tonite not on call ah?

  2. have been on call the past two weekend wor. don't like that leh, you all get pleasure seeing me suffer isit!

  3. Anonymous7:47 PM

    yah lol, so horrible.. poor docs get on call on wkends. quite scared by the time i graduate from med sch

  4. Anonymous9:43 PM

    I am on call today... reading your blog really makes my call less miserable!! Thanks! :)

  5. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Haha, can please tell patients not to forget to look out for their queue number even if they are making calls/ listening to MP3 player/ munching/ writing complaint letter? I often have to wait and wait after pressing the queue number, wait until buay tahan, then will go out of my room to announce "Mr Blah Blah Blah?". Then have to wait for Mr BBB to return his magazine/finish his call or complaint letter and travel from the other end of the crowded clinic to my room. Think that slows down the clinic as well..

  6. Anonymous2:45 AM

    I am a med student in Australia and i must say that the system in australia is not as great as what people think. in fact, the singapore hospitals are so much better and cheaper as well. like that day i went to see a specialist in a major sydney hospital. i paid almost $200 for a half an hour consultation and had to wait 45 minutes even though there were only 3 people in the clinic.

    and the medical training in australia is not as good. those chow ang mohs only know how to talk big only, they don't really deliver the goods.

    SINGAPORE ROCKS!!! very homesick here in sydney.

  7. Are you seriously a doctor my god!

  8. Anonymous10:23 AM

    one more thing that they can do, bring their nail cutter and trim the nail neat.

  9. Anonymous10:26 AM

    TO the anon who compares the Australian and Singpore health system......

    Well assuming the number of doctors in both countries is about the same, why are Singapore hospitals "better" and cheaper?

    Ans : because the doctors work longer hours, harder hours and are paid peanuts (the REAL peanuts not the $600,000 one!)

    You say you paid $200 for half an hour consultation? Well in Singapore many GPs charge $8 per consult. But they see about 8-10 patients in that half hour period.

    As a medicaly student how long does it take you to clerk a proper history from the patient? Let's give you 5 minutes for your finals long case medicine exam and see how you fare.

    Despite the fact that Singapore hospitals are "better" and cheaper and doctors are paid much less, the public here continue to say doctors make too much money and are paid too much and work too little.

    Please come back to Singapore to replace people like me who are going to Australia to work. I am sure this has more to do with your homesickness than anything else. I for one would love to see you in one of those HO/MO postings where they put you on call over the entire weekend ie Sat AND Sun with no postcall. AND have patients complain why you dun smile when you see then at 3am Monday morning. Then you can come and tell me Singapore is a better place to work as a doctor than Australia.

    medical training in Australia not as good as Singapore? Woo hoo good news for me then cos I got trained in Singapore and am going to Australia. So I'll be impressive there right?

    Bad for you cos you got half-baked training and are coming back to the hell whole stress filled environment of Singapore.

    Good luck man....you GONNA NEED IT!!!

    PS: I remember how a fellow HO who joined me in January (towards the end of my HOship) was so depressed because he could not set plugs, take blood and was overwhelmed by the incredible amount of work. I had to counsel him when he wanted to commit suicide. In the end I spent much time doing the work for him (there is no time to teach).

    I dunno what happened to him in the end.

  10. Anonymous10:52 AM

    To the med student in Australia,

    Which would you rather be? The consultant who gets paid $200 per patient and sees 4 patients a morning, or the one who gets paid $40 per patient and sees 20 patients in the same amount of time?

    Well if you prefer the latter then come to Singapore. Most consultants dun spend more than 10 minutes with their patients!

    Is that good for patients?

    The potential for mistakes happening is higher when you rush through a consult. It is up to you to believe whether there are truly less mistakes made by Singaporean doctors seeing more patients faster than their Australian counterparts.

  11. Anonymous10:58 AM

    At the end of the day ... it's $$$$ again...


  12. Dr Oz bloke11:28 AM

    hello? It is not about money.

    The two consultants earn the same amount $800.

    The one in Australia sees 4 patients and spends 30 minutes with each of them. Quality time with the specialist for the patient.

    The one in Singapore sees 20 patients and spends 10 minutes with each of them. Lots of rushing and little time to explain and talk to the patient.

    It is not about the money. It is about letting the doctos do what they are supposed to do and have the proper amount of time to do it. This is only fair to both the doctor and the patient.

    Consider the downside if the doctor makes a mistake. Is it fair to the doctor since he had been "forced" to rush due to the system? And then is it fair to the patient when the doctor doesn't do the best for him because of the system?

    Who are the real winners in the end? Not the doctor. Not the patient. The hospital. The administration. The government.

    Look at your bills.The doctor's fee is not 100% of the bill. It isn't even 60% of it. There are other costs. Where does that go to?

    Do you know there are more hospital administrators than there are doctors working in the health clusters in Singapore? Do we need that many of them?

    What is more important in health care delivery? Dotors, nurses or administrators?

    I know there are many things that the admin people do. But the way I see it, it won't work as long as the admin do not work on the ground. All I know is that they just sit in their offices all day.

  13. Anonymous11:45 AM

    To the medical student from Australia,

    can I find out from you whether patients in Australia doctor hop a lot? Or do they usually see the same one?

    I have heard of cases where new patients cannot find a doctor because all the practices are full and not accepting new ones. Is this true?

    Singapore patients doctor hop A LOT. I guess there are clinics everywhere.

  14. If YOU were a hospital admin person, would YOU streamline the admin to put yourself out of a job?

    Now compare that to a cardiologist who gives you meds to prevent heart disease so you WON'T have to come in for a cardiac cath to give him extra income.

    Which group do you think fear the possible merging of the two clusters?

  15. Dr Oz bloke12:12 PM

    I would say the administrators.

    But you brought up a good point regarding the cardiologists and cardiac caths. Seems to be very prevalent that cardioglogists will urge patients to go for cardiac cath KIV stent insertion these days. Even when the exercise stress ECG is normal! And what's this with MR angiography? It never seems to be conclusive anyway. Have had a few patients complain they feel ripped off by the cardiologists.

  16. Didn't you read the ST forum? One cardiologist kena complain for ordering a Doppler for ?DVT then decided to ignore the normal finding and continue the woman on ?fraxiparin. The woman insisted on definitive diagnosis and I think a venogram was done which was normal. Now they question why the S$900 U/S when the doctor wasn't gonna take it seriously to begin with!

  17. Dr Oz bloke12:25 PM

    Yes I read that.

    The problem here is that the doctor did not take time to explain the various options in types of investigations and treatment regimes for DVT.

    Some might argue why even bother to do anything if she was going to be on Fraxiparine anyway? Of course that's another extreme.

    But then we also know that Singaporeans are notorious for being ignorant/disoncerted when it comes to involving them in the decision making process.

    They usually say " I leave it to you doctor, I am not a doctor I don't know what you are talking about (I don't want to know what you are talkign about)" And then the smart ones will add "Wait....how much are the various tests?"

    There will be those who will baulk at the final bill and then ask to be educated on the various types of tests and treatments available.

    It takes 2 hands to clap. The doctors have to be proactive and try to explain and the patients and relatives should make an attemp to understand and take part in the decision making process.

  18. Anonymous2:40 PM

    a million thanks to my fellow colleagues when i was doing housemanship in s'pore. i was like that poor HO, couldnt' set plugs well , couldn't take bloods well, overwhelmed by the heavy load of work when i first started my housemanship after graduating from med school overseas. they helped me a lot. so to the med student overseas, life here is hard but you will make it through.

  19. Anonymous8:22 PM

    From The med student in Australia

    wah....didn't expect so many people to make so much comment about what i said.

    Ok lar, i know life will be tough in singapore but really the only reason why i can truly say i want to return back after i finish my training is because i love my country and family and friends.

    Life is more than just about money and career right? it is also about being with people you love and helping your fellow country kaki nang right?

    i know our gahmen sucks lar but seriously where else in the world can you feel such a sense of belonging.

    living overseas has taught me that there is really no place like home.

    PS: it is not true that ang moh guys are cuter than the yandao singapore guys we have back home. :)

  20. Don't do your housemanship here. You are not ready.

    The 'worst' housemen are the Australian and Irish-trained ones.

  21. you come back don't worry, we whip you into shape!

  22. Anonymous10:48 PM

    if you cannot make it to medicine in the local university then dun come back for housemanship. its not worth it

  23. Anonymous3:06 AM

    By: another medical student in Australia

    why are all of you so harsh to all us students in australia? eh, are foreign-trained students really so lousy? if so why?

    actually we all singaporeans studying medicine overseas damn jia lat also leh.

    sometimes we cannot get into singapore med school because of pure bad luck or because we did not do the correct subjects in school. then we dun wanna give up on our hope of being a doctor.

    so how? boh bian, must say goodbye to everyone we like back home and come to a foreign land all alone to study.

    Then in a foreign land, the ang mohs here treat us like outsiders. then when we return to sg, trying to get back into the singapore system, we face unkind people like those above.

    so sad right or not?

    dr Bl Og, mabbe you should write something about foreign-trained students.

    by the way, i agree with the med student in australia, ang moh guys are not good looking lar. really miss the selection of local guys in singapore.

  24. eh see my introduction from the HO survivor guide. The HO from Hell was from Australia. Think he went thru his postings and destroyed all credibility of Australian grads.

    There is alot of prejudice here lah, so take it easy. Its only a matter of getting use to the culture. Many of the senior doctors I respect are trained in Australia.

  25. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I nvr realised there is so much prejudice against foreign-trained doctors....

    I thought I get along well with my colleagues here....

    May be I've been fooled...

  26. Dr Oz bloke10:35 AM

    I think the reason why the first medical student from Australia who posted here got such responses is because she made the comment "and the medical training in australia is not as good".

    Now it does her no favours to admit that she will return to Singapore and work as a HO who is not as well trained. What does that say to her future colleagues? And it gives a little hint of her attitude towards the whole thing. She might be thinking that she will return to become trained.

    Well all I can say is that the last thing a busy HO wants to do is to have to train his fellow HO/colleague!

    I have personally worked with wonderful and terrible foreign trained medical graduate HOs. I have also worked with wonderful and terrible locally trained medical graduate HOs. However it is true that the terrible ones tend to more often than not be foreign trained.

    Another tip for foreign medical graduates coming back for HOship. Try to start work at the same time as the new local NUS medical graduates. ie start work in May. DO NOT try to start work say in January. The reason is because it is much better to start off with everyone else who is new and greenhorn. That way you don't stand out as much. If you join in January, the HOs are all well oiled machines already and you will stick out like a sore thumb! Let alone your foreign MBBS status!

    Take a break and join up in May. You'll be thankful you took the break.

    The other reason I think the medical student got that response is because her comments about how "Good" the system here in Singapore is compared to Australia is way off the mark. And we all know that.

    I'm sure she's going to be in for a rude shock when she returns.

    Personally although I was locally trained, and was "prepared" for hte tough life as a HO. Nothing will erase the memory of the inital 4 months of my time in the Old TTSH as a HO. I was on call on the very first day of work. I will tell you it is NO JOKE to clerk 40 cases on your very first day of work, discharge 20 patients (new paper work to deal with) be totally inexperienced in ordering management for patients, resuscitate 5 patients who collapsed, answer over 300 pages from the nurses, take blood samples from 70 patients, set 50 plugs and all the while get scolded by the MO and registrar on call and the Ward nursing officers!

    So much for trying to ease your way into a job! They do throw you into the deepest abyss of the ocean. There is no waddling pool!

    NOTHING can prepare you for that, regardless of whether you are trained locally or not. But at least acknowledge that it is going to be HELL. I think the phrase "it is going to be tough" is still too mild.

  27. To clarify, I don't mean that Australia-trained doctors are lousy doctors.

    I mean that they are 'not ready' to work as housemen under the local system.

    So if you can do your housemanship in Australia and start as an MO when you complete it, I'd say do it. It's less painful that way.