‘Why Psychiatry?’ by Dr. Afiza Azmee

You see, even my own mother questioned my decision to devote myself into this field. Her argument consisted of “okay, you know you can do whatever you like. Not like I can force you about anything. But what would people think?”

That was when I would look at her with a raised eyebrow and gently inquired, “What exactly would people think, mother?”

And furthermore, if I ever become unhappy with my life, would those people whose opinion we care about give a damn about me?

Nope, they won’t.

My misery would be my own.

And therefore, this decision would have to be based on myself and my preference alone.

Besides, nowadays it is no longer considered de rigeur to seem too desirous for the good opinion of others. Haha. And thus, when I filled up my form to choose psychiatry as my field of dedication, I did that thinking about myself alone.

There are times when I received statements like ‘Sayang laaa hang masuk psychiatry…”

I just smiled. I have a secret that they haven’t found out.


I knew I could be happy as an MO of anything. Compared to housemanship, life as any MO would be rosy. After two years, FINALLY, I could wave goodbye to the life as a Hamba Orang (HO).

But being an MO of a field that you actually like, would make you even happier, right? Why become just happy when you could become happier?

When I was a student, I had short-listed 3 rotations that I had an interest in. One of them was O+G (can you believe it?) But after my first posting, I have thrown that option beyond the realm of comprehension.

Another one of my interests was A&E and that was why I made A&E as my last posting. I really truly enjoyed my posting in A&E and I wouldn’t mind being retained there.

Last but not least, I had really truly loved my psychiatry rotation when I was in my 4th and 5thyear. When I was in my 3rd year, I even made psychiatry as my elective. The patients were deuced entertaining. When they became aggressive, I just pretended that life had become less mundane and more adventurous. The staffs were laid back and funny. The meetings were hilarious, at times. There was no stress at all. I could devote so much time for one patient. I could listen to amazingly creative stories (romance and sci-fi all rolled into one) and have a chuckle about it among ourselves.

How on earth could I resist liking psychiatry, you tell me? I never stood a chance.

Besides what other field would suit me, really? I could’t do medical…I am not that brilliant nor am I that rajin. Look at the way they do casualty call. Tabik spring, beb! I couldn’t do that.

I couldn’t do any sort of surgery, Ortho included. I am clumsy with my hands. When I was in my year of PMR, my Kemahiran Hidup project was terrible. All the carpentry and the sewing….I hated them. It stands to reason that I would really suck at stitches and any sort of handcrafts. It is diabolical to think about how many possible ways I could ruin my patients’ life with my lack of hand skills. So surgery and Ortho are not for me.

As for paeds …I have zero interest in paeds. As a student, I was not very good at it. My professor at the John Hunter Hospital didn’t really think I was cut out to become a paediatrician and I agree with her.


I was broken-hearted when I found out that I was placed in ENT. Without trying to sound like I had an auditory hallucination, I could actually hear my heart shattering into tiny little pieces.(hmm, if that doesn’t make me sound a bit histrionic, I don’t know what does).

At first, I thought I should just give up and consign myself to my fate. I mean, ENT is not bad, right? I have nothing against ENT. I have some friends there. Furthermore, I know that the department is made up of nice people when I was attached there as a surgical houseman. I could like it after given some time, I thought.

But, Wallahi, I couldn’t rest easy. I am not good at ENT; I knew that almost instinctively. And I could no longer force myself to do something that I am not good at. I would be miserable. It would be like doing Add Maths and Physics all over again….you can obtain an A in those subjects, eventually (if you try hard enough), but the toiling and the journey will not be enjoyable. It will not be…fun!

Thus, I resolved to meet with the Pengarah and appealed for psychiatry. Initially, she said that there was no more empty spot to be filled up in psychiatry. I then insisted that if that was the case, then put me in casualty. Let me float in casualty until there is a spot for me in psychiatry. As I have mentioned before, I enjoyed A&E as a HO; imagine how much more enjoyable it would be as an MO, haha. And besides, I would be able to a see large spectrum of cases in A&E, which would be an experience that I could apply to my psychiatry patients who are sure to have a variety of underlying diseases other than their psychiatric illnesses.

But somehow, someway (Thank God!!) they finally decided to put me in Psychiatry, after all. And I remembered thinking that AT LAST!, I will know how it feels to love one’s job.


“Make your passion your occupation and you don’t have to work for the rest of your life,” said somebody wise.

And here I am, following those words of wisdom; turning my passion into my occupation.

So far, the journey has been great. No regrets.

Well, at least, not yet.



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