This One is for The Azman Family


For the past almost four years, it might have seemed like I was wasting my time to you, since I cannot hold a proper job and it takes a long time to get things started. However, you are not walking in my shoes and you cannot criticize something you cannot see. I thank you for some of the help and a lot of my friends have lent me money in order for me to survive. My total borrowed (after my internship and brief stint on the coast, I paid back some of it) accumulated to about 8,000 Euro, which you can see by the attached budget sheet (click HERE) is not a big problem to pay off even earning 1000 Euro per month and living in Croatia, which is an additional 25-35% more expensive than Malaysia. However in the time that I came back to Croatia:

  1. I am hopefully on my way to becoming an EU citizen.
  2. With the help of Dr. Gassend, we changed the first two parts of the laws discriminating foreign doctors.
  3. I finished my internship, paid back some of the money owed, studied for my exam, and started working as a doctor on the coast, despite not being able to extend my contract.
  4. I am trying to amend the next two steps of the law to allow foreigners to get a full license and to specialize.


The medical field changed from the 1990s. It changed from the 1980s.  Not so much in treatment options, methodology or the general scientific part.  More in the politics, bureaucracy and permissions to join this elite group of butchers and mechanics.  In the 2000s, it really changed after September 11, 2001 when everybody decided to close their borders and create more laws segregating and discriminating foreigners. This happened everywhere and it became so evident that even one of my colleagues, who always wants to remain virtually anonymous, cannot go back to England to work. Click HERE to see when I realized that University of Zagreb was a waste of time.  I wrote an article about it to help people decide in these days what to do if and when you want to go to medical school – please click HERE to read this article.

In 2009 when I went back to Malaysia, my stay was not happy. Despite despising the lack of culture, the pollution, the heat and the blatant racism, the school that I graduated from is NOT on the Malaysian Medical Council’s list of Recognized Schools. It was reevaluated in 2011 and the University of Zagreb is STILL not listed. You can find the link HERE.  Also like Hong Kong’s policy, they made one of the hardest medical exams in the world where only 7% of the people who take it pass.  This means I will probably NEVER pass it no matter how many times I try.  I was ready to bike around the world, but Attila lent me money to go back to Croatia to finish off my internship and to be finally licensed. So I moved back and we ran into legal issues and discrimination which you can read about HERE, HERE and HERE.

However after struggling through everything, not having enough money for survival, but having enough friends to support you and make life a little bit more social than being stuck in Batang Kali for months, my life was bearable.  Things had its ups and downs.  I actually was able to fall in love with Ivana Ledenko and that ended horribly, because of another girl’s jealousy and false rumors.  I was very angry and stayed at the hospital entire days to just keep working and truthfully covered most of the internship hours within four months.

So life moved on as normal and things seemed great as long as I was working.  I knew I could not fully cover my debt, but it would be covered as long as I got a job as a medical doctor.  My Croatian got better and I now only understand Malay, but cannot reproduce simple Malay sentences.  My level of languages goes from English being the best, then Croatian, then German and finally Malay.  After the internship ended at the end of September 2012, I needed a legal reason to stay in Croatia for visa issues and I started a company with Šimun Bučan who ended up screwing up a business that was VERY carefully planned out.  Click HERE to see what it was.  I spent 3 months building the bar, then in January, I started studying for 4 months and left the paperwork to him.  However, he failed to hand in the paperwork and in January, I officially resigned from my own LLC and left him as the director, which he was in the beginning anyways.

I spent the next four months in the library, planning to take the exam in March, but being me, there’s always something that goes wrong.  The laws were not changed and we had to mention that to the Minister of Health.  This was because there were elections in 2012 and the previous government “forgot”.  This was fixed within the month, but also took another month to take effect.  So I did the Croatian State Licensing Examination on April 24, 2013.   Which I passed.  IN CROATIAN! Unfortunately, I only had a license to practice during the time I had a work permit.  Without the license, I cannot apply for jobs and without a job, I cannot get a license.

It took me a few days to find a job in Zadar and I eventually moved there.  it took 2 weeks to get my visa and work permit, and I could only sign a contract for 3 months.  I took a spot on the Croatian quota for TEMPORARY DOCTORS and then this happened: Click HERE and HERE for the story.  I then quickly called my second choice and started working on Cres.  I only had a contract for 2 months, but I got the last spot for the quota for PERMANENT DOCTORS.  Note: In this country (which is different from ALL the other countries), it is an UNWRITTEN “rule” that you need to take a new spot in the quota if you change employers!  After my contract ended, I could not extend my contract within two weeks and so I am stuck without a visa.

I went to Austria for the MSF meeting to see if I could work, but I do NOT have 2 years of experience.  Note: most places require minimum 2 years of experience, and the other places require minimum 5 years of experience.  How do I get that if I cannot work?  It is the same in the pharmaceutical industry.  That is why I am having trouble finding a job internationally.  Because of the reasons I listed HERE.  So that is where I am at now and here are the things that I am going through at this moment.

  1. I have no trouble obtaining a position (click HERE) in Croatia, but the only thing that is blocking me is the quota regulations by the Ministry of Interior (see picture below).  I cannot work until January, but since my visa ends in December, I have to follow Shengen and leave the country for 3 months (mid-March).  Since I have a non-profit organization, I can PROBABLY apply to stay here until January.
  2. I recently washed my passport out of my own tiredness and stupidity and have no money to get it back, and now there seems to be issues because I just used the money that Mak sent to pay for Fedex.  Fedex just called and said that Mr. Faizul Mustaffa at JIM London will not release the passport to them.
  3. Since I cannot work to support myself, I have to wait and survive while fighting for rights.  I constantly apply to job positions all over the world (even Pharmaceutical companies in Malaysia), but have not gotten any positive responses back.

So when you’re confronted with problems, what do you do?  Click HERE to read my fight and responses to the situation with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior and Hrvatska Lijecnicka Komora.  I am currently putting together a packet with all this to amend the last two points:

  1. Attend the internship,
  2. Do the state licensing examination,
  3. To be regularly licensed, and
  4. To be able to specialize.

I have included His Excellency Dato’ Yean Yoke Heng in all my emails regarding this matter, but have not gotten any invite for meetings.  I think that maybe the discrimination of third national Asians is not important enough to take a little bit of time to meet with the Minister of Interior, Mr. Ranko Ostojic or Dr. Hrvoje Minigo, the president of HLK about the issues deterring people who

  1. Graduated from the University of Zagreb Medicinski Fakultet,
  2. Interned at KBC “Sestre Milosrdnice”,
  3. and passed the Croatian State Licensing Examination

from obtaining a FULL license and to specialize.  If you read the comments HERE, you will see that this does not happen ANYWHERE else in the EU and possibly the world!


Reason for Anger

I know the family could not financially support me because of other financial obligations. That way the process just needed more time. I borrowed 10,000 Euro over the period of three years, and that is the TOTAL cost of doing the USMLE and going to the US and starting a specialization. If I could have had 10,000 Euro from the beginning, I would be in my 3rd year of specialization and next year, I would be a full-fledged doctor in the US earning approximately USD $120,000 per annum. That is minimum pay for a specialist.

Since there was no understanding, research on your end or the fact that you did not take the time to listen to my logic, I ended up wasting 4 years. However, I did manage to scrape good things out of the bad situations that I have been through. If you just walked a LITTLE bit in my shoes, you would be very skinny and healthy. If I had Abang’s EU passport, I would not have any trouble and would already be in my specialization for 3 years and next year, I would be a full fledge doctor and earning 48,000 Euro on average in Europe or 18,000 Euro on average in Croatia as a specialist.

The Breakdown

Staying in Croatia

Since my tourist visa only allows me to stay in Croatia until December 3, 2013, I have to leave next month not to break Shengen Law if I cannot get this job and I have to come back in December to apply.  That way,  I will have one month until I have to be out until half a year passes by from September 10, 2013.


The cost of application for licensing is 390 Euro.  It will take up to 4 months and I am not sure if the application will go through or if I will have to take the exam which costs 1040 Euro.  However since that will take about 5 months until I get the reply and have to take the exam at certain times of the year, I still need to work and the only place that is viable so far is Croatia, considering the fact that I need to take language courses to get the needed certification for other EU countries.  If I do language courses in Croatia, it will take 6 months and I will have to find means to support myself, then cost of moving.  Click HERE for IMC reference.

United Kingdom

The cost of application for licensing is GBP 390, the total cost of PLAB is GBP 615, and the IELTS (even though English is my native language, since I hold a Malaysian passport and graduated from a Croatian school, I need to take an English test) is 200 Euro in Zagreb.  PLAB and IELTS are held during different times of the year, so it would be better if I had a job.  Plus I will have to travel to the UK to take the examinations.  Click HERE for GMC reference.

United States of America

Now the USA is the most expensive option, but the highest end yield.  The TOTAL cost of USMLE and its exams are USD 2455.  It us usually DOUBLED for international students.  This has to include a flight to the US TWICE for Step 2 CS and Step 3, which can be done within a month of each other.  Thus I have to be in the US for at least one month.  After that, the costs of registration and residency application totals up to USD 500.  Most forums count it all as USD 5,000 to 10,000.

Click HERE for the cost comparison.

The Best Solution

Looking at the financial breakdown, you can clearly see that the best course of action is to work in Croatia and get the required minimum years or experience, apply for Ireland and hope to find be placed as a specialization trainee, which after 4 years I am a full-fledged doctor at the age of 39.  Since the salaries are higher, I can save up enough money to do the USMLE and then move to the United States of America as a specialist, which is a better option instead of having to constantly retrain.


Since December 31, 2009 to now, I have been through a lot, wasted too much time fighting to work as a doctor, and the solution is the help from family.  There are a lot of ifs that I can list out, which never happened and probably never will, because of the lack of passion from the people needing to do it to help me out in my endeavors to be one of the best doctors in the world.  I am not blaming anybody for what I have to go through.  I just wish that I could get any type of concrete break!

  1. If I was the British citizen instead of Abang, then I would be in my 3rd year of specialization.
  2. If I moved schools when University of Zagreb got rid of Harvard Medical International, then I would be in my 3rd year of specialization.
  3. If I had financial support to take the USMLE and move back to the US from the beginning, then I would be in my 3rd year of specialization.

I can keep going, but the most important thing is to fix the issues at hand now.  I know that I will be wasting time and have already burned about 10,000 Euro that I have to pay back.  However since nobody was smart enough to predict September 11 and the subsequent crash of the banking sector in 2008, we all were surprised by how the value of our assets fell.

Where Am I?

On October 25, 2013, I think I got a job with a private polyclinic.  Then I came home and got that letter pictured above.  I tried to call my friend who has helped me before for advice, but I am not sure what will happen in Croatia.

See above for the choices of what I have to do if the worst case scenario happens.  Now I am having to start THIS and hope see if I can survive for a month and a half.  I also sent THIS to the Ministries, the Ombudsman and the Malaysian Ambassador, and hope that I will get some sort of reply.  THIS is the petition.

Note: I also accidentally washed my passport and JIM London seems to be worse than MUP or MVEP, because after a few days, they said my passport was ready for pickup, then they held it for no reason.  I got a lecture from the third secretary, Mr. Hanapi Hussin, who said that I have no right to be angry.  However, since they are holding the passport for no reason, they are not allowing me to apply with MUP.  So I am VERY close to losing this job opportunity that I JUST acquired!

Note: The reason why ALL other countries give regular licenses is because even if I want to volunteer, I can’t!  So what does HLK expect?  For me to hold a full time job so that I can volunteer?  Why can’t I find a job overseas?  Because I do not hold a license!


Now You Have to Ask!

Is it more important to have all those materialistic goods (even though I understand that you worked for all of them and I am very proud of the family) or to share the wealth and make sure the family is stable for the future?


  1. Poštovani dr. Azman,

    Budući da ste se službenim putem obratili stručnim službama te predsjedniku Hrvatske liječničke komore, prim. Hrvoju Minigu, u vezi Vašeg zahtjeva za izdavanjem licence smatram da je to jedini ispravni način rješavanja navedene problematike.

    S poštovanjem,

    Mario Malnar,

  1. 1 This is Just Getting Ridiculous | Medical Advice and Life Blog

    […] jobs all over the world and in Croatia, just in case I lose this position, to follow the plan in my last blog article, because I cannot afford to do all these exams. I need to work to pay back and save up for exams to […]

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