Well, I got carried away in previous post talking about my experience taking entrance exam for Master in Pathology. You can check it here:
That was not my first attention on trying to write such post. My intention was to share on how to get into that entrance exam in the first place. So here it is. A step by step guide on how to get yourself into the entrance exam.
A Guide to Apply for Master in Pathology (Mpath)
1. Make up your mind. I've seen a few of my friends who apply for this pathway and get confused before it begin. Ask yourself, are you really interested in Pathology? Do you know what pathology is? Do you know what kind of work are you going to do in Pathology.
Most of the time, people thought pathology MO or specialist were all just sitting down drinking coffee and chit chat all day long. No work to do. Think again. The best thing to do is to get yourself into the department itself. Work as a pathology MO first, in a few months time you will make up your mind. You will.
2. Ear on HLP. HLP or Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan is a kind of scholarship offered by Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia for all MOH employee that want to further study. Its a scholarship so basically you will be bound to government for a certain period of time if you accept HLP.
Ear on! HLP we page (http://e-hlp.moh.gov.my) only open once in a year. Same like other Ministry, it will be open for a period of 30 days for all the interested people to apply. The server, as usual, will be sucks. What do you expect? Thousands of applicant sending their data to that server in a month time. Lag will be a major issue. But first of all, you need to ear on regarding when this web page will be opened. You can check it regularly, they will post a notice there, or just keep your ear around. Usually rumors and social media information will revealed when this web page open every year.
3. Fill the form. Sound easy. Maybe it is. Just fill up the online form. Everything from your demographic details, up to which University that you want to go to. Obviously which course do you want to apply. In this case, Sarjana Patologi.
Bear in mind, this form will only ask what Master do you want to do and which university. However, in pathology, there were no such thing as pathology itself. The first year of Pathology Master will be general Pathology, then you will have to choose whether you want to do Anatomic Pathology, Chemical Pathology, Microbiology, Hematopathology, Genetics, or Forensic.
HLP will not ask you to state what do you want to do, however, later if you choose a University which did not offer that specialty, you will be in trouble. For example, you want to do genetics, it will only be offered by USM and you cannot simply choose other university for that specialty.
4. Essay. This is a minor thing inside HLP, but it will ask you to write a short essay consist of not more than 100 words on your achievement or whatever you want to write about yourself. For me, I wrote a bit of my biodata, a few words only, why I choose Pathology, which area I want to specialise, and what are my plan if I ever become one. Short, concise , less than 100 words.
5. Get a referee. You need two referee inside the HLP, person who would recommend you to enter the program. If you are in Pathology department, then ask your Head of Department and one other pathologist to be your referee. they will need to write a short notes on your potential and everything. So don't ask Pathologist who hate you to be a referee. Common sense. If you are not in Pathology, then ask your head of department or any specialist to be your referee. Or any specialist who know you the best. Know about your potential and everything.
6. Picture and Print. As usual, all HLP form online need to be printed in about 5-6 6 copies, attach your picture on each form. Why 5-6? One form you need to submit via mail to Bahagian Latihan Persekutuan, and the rest to the Universities. You will be given a choice of 4 universities in HLP to apply. What matter are your first choice. The rest, will be your back up.
7. Get Hospital Director to sign. All of this form need to be sign by hospital director. Usually your hospital will know what to do with all of this form. If you have a doubt, ask 'Unit Latihan'(Training unit). You will need to submit all of this to them for them to provide you with a cover letter, and then get hospital director to sign it, then they will give it back to you. Do this early as this process might take 2-3 days to be completed.
8. Pos Express it. Okay, poslaju or Pos Express may sound lame to you (you fancy those private shipping company), but for me I like that Pos Express hard envelope. I bought like 6 of them, put all my form in each envelope, then submit it according to what have been instructed in HLP web page. You can find the instruction usually in FAQ section.
9. Wait and check. You are done, then wait and check HLP page periodically. Somewhere around October, they will announce the result for you. Just enter your IC number in that page, it will say Congratulations, your application has been accepted, date of interview will be announced later. Something like that.
10. Ear on entrance exam. Entrance exam will be done on January or December (recently). Ear on as they will not call you or email you. Some of the candidate that took entrance exam with me said that they only knew about the exam 2 days before that. So keep your ear on and ask around. Rumours cannot be neglected. If you heard or found out about it, then start calling those who in charged for the exam to send you an invitation email or letter as soon as possible. We get out letter a day before the entrance workshop. It's difficult, especially for us from Sabah...oversea. Haha.
11. Entrance exam workshop. They will be a workshop explaining on how to answer the exam, what you need to expect, and at this workshop you will be brief on every specialty in Pathology. You will need to fill up another biodata form for interview later, this time you get to choose which specialty you want to do either Anatomic Pathology, Microbiology, hematopathology..etc.
In this workshop also, they will held a mock exam session. They will analyse you all on your performance and at this time you will know whether you study enough for the exam.
This workshop on entrance exam usually called MOCK exam. It will be held one month before the real exam or one week before (recently).
12. Entrance Exam. During MOCK exam or the workshop, they will give you the details on when the entrance exam, the venue and everything you need to know about the exam. They will issue a letter during or a few days after that to give details on the exam. You can use this to apply for unrecorded leave.
Entrance exam will be held in a University, my case in UM. Every year they will change the venue. U
It will be a 3 days program. The first day will be the theory paper. The second and third day will be the interview.
13. Theory paper. The theory paper will consist of 2 papers. Each paper will consist of 40 questions, and each questions will have 5 true or false statements. Meaning you will have 400 true or false questions to answer. For each question you answer correctly, one mark will be give, if you are wrong, one mark will be deducted, and if you did not answer, no mark or deduction will be given.
A few topic need to be cover...well a lot of them. Just read those medical books such as oxfords, any clinical books. The question will focus mainly on clinical aspect and applied pathology. Not just pathology itself. It will ask regarding clinical diagnosis, investigation result, management. Something like that.
To be safe, just read first 10 chapters of Robin's Pathologic Basis of Disease. That would be enough. At the same time, read those Oxford mini handbook on clinical medicine, that would help.
And get all the past year question, usually the question will be similar.
14. Interview. If you pass the exam, you will have to go for an interview the next day. The result for the theory exam will be announced by 4pm on the same day of that theory paper was held. The theory paper will be held in the morning, finished after 2 hours, then at 4pm, check the result. If you passed, be prepared for interview.
For the interview, no need to worry much. It's not like Viva or something. It was just an interview. Like a job interview. They will ask why you want to take this program, are you good enough, what will you do if you got it. They like to ask about the job scope of the program that you want to take. For example, if you choose Hematopathology, they will ask what Hematopathologist work are like. If you did not know, then its bad for you. Same like when you apply for a job as a cleaner but you did not know what cleaner do. Haha. Something like that.
15. Done and pray... That's it. After the interview, you can now live your life normally. Get a vacation. Pray and wait for the result to come out. Usually it will be announced on April each year.
There are another way to become a pathologist, i guess, by applying for MRCPath. From what I heard, its difficult to pass, expensive and perhaps not recognise in Malaysia. Not sure about that.
If you did not want to use government scholarship, then you can apply directly from each university, just go to their web page and they will be a link for application. You will still need to go for entrance exam together with everybody else.
I am also waiting for my result now, I pass the exam, done interview and hopefully will be accepted into the program.
* Update April 2017 - I will no longer share past year questions for the entrance exam. This is based from my wife experiences recently that the question were totally out from the past year questions that we have. So, doing the past year question could be pointless as for now. It is still the best to read the first 10 chapters on General Pathology Robin's Pathology or just watch the video lecture on youtube.