Housemanship in Malaysia – What You Need to Know

a Asia doctor and man nurse having a discussion

The general pathway to studying medicine, earning your MBBS degree, and becoming a medical doctor in Malaysia is straightforward. First, you must complete a pre-medical course, like A-Level, STPM, Foundation in Science, after SPM.

Secondly, you need to enrol in an MBBS Degree that’s typically 5 years long. And finally, you must undergo one year of housemanship, a compulsory internship for all aspiring doctors. Once you’ve completed your housemanship, you will be qualified medical personnel.

Most people know a lot about pre-medical courses and enrolling in an MBBS. However, some don’t know much about housemanship in Malaysia. So, what is it all about?


As some people may call it, Housemanship or House Job or Internship is the training program that newly inducted doctors usually go through immediately after graduating from a medical university in Malaysia before beginning their residency or before being issued a permanent license.

Housemanship is the only time where all the requisite skills can be mastered in carrying out procedures such as CVP line, Chest tube, Peritoneal Dialysis, etc.

When it comes to housemanship, it is not business as usual — like when you were still a student, you can skip a class and nothing happens or decide whether to clerk a patient or not. In housemanship, you must take responsibility for your actions. For instance, if you were supposed to transfuse blood and you do not, and the patient dies, you will be held responsible.

It is a time when you have to learn to pass on responsibilities or difficulties to senior colleagues, especially when you are unsure of what to do. You’re not just doing things because you think it’s the right idea; you’re doing something because you’re sure what to do.


Housemanship is a training phase in which you are supposed to be asked questions, and you are also expected to ask questions, both of which allow you to learn more because everything you have read in books is now done practically.

You will be expected to follow a case from the beginning to the end — how a disease’s symptoms began and how the result or prognosis is. While you are supposed to be supervised by senior colleagues or the HOD, some centers might be understaffed (shortage of doctors), so you will be left alone to make decisions.

But you’ll have enough senior colleagues in most centers, especially in teaching hospitals.


Portrait of smiling young male doctor standing in hospital corridor


Rotations or Postings During Housemanship

The Housemanship curriculum runs for 12 months. Every 3 months, you will rotate from one department to another until the 12 months are completed. You may start with Gynaecology and Obstetrics, then Internal Medicine, and lastly Paediatrics and Surgery.

You will also rotate from one specialty in each field, such as oncology to cardiology to nephrology. All these rotations help you gain knowledge of various diseases and are therefore essential.


Malaysia housemanship training logbook


Rules and Regulation During Housemanship

As a houseman, there are laws and regulations you need to know. For each posting, you will be given a logbook. At the end of each posting by the department, the logbook must be signed by the HOD. The Head of Department (HOD) has the right to prolong the training if they think you are not qualified enough to be released.

You will be given 25 days of annual leave as a government servant. These 25 days will be split evenly between the postings you do in a year as a houseman. Any other leaves, including MCs, maternity leave, and emergency leaves, translates to an extension in your housemanship program.


For example, your medical posting would be extended by one week if you take one week MC during a medical posting unless you want to subtract your annual leave allocated for that specific posting.

That is why doctors or soon-to-be-doctors are advised not to get married during housemanship.

Moreover, pregnancy will not decrease your workload because you must complete the same number of calls as your colleagues. All these things only stretch your housemanship program longer.


Final Phase

Finally, after completing your housemanship program, you are qualified for full registration in Malaysia. However, Malaysian citizens would be required to undergo a further two years of compulsory service by the Ministry of Health.

Currently, international students are not allowed to do horsemanship in Malaysia. As a result, many international students chose to finish their internships overseas or other places where they are accepted.