RX Plus Vol 1: Beyond Limits

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By Alan Tan Miao Thong

"Be a rubber dummy, not a sandbag. When you get hit, bounce back up." Currently completing his PRP in HSA, Alan is fond of easy write-ups, hot cups of tea and sleep.

“So… what’s the plan after our contract ends?”

“Meh, it’s a long way more.  I’ll think about it then.”

The above conversation is pretty much the answer I got from each PRP (and to a certain extent, FRPs) that I meet. In case you wonder why that sounds so familiar – well, that’s because it’s what we’ve been telling ourselves since the first day we started pharmacy degree. (Hey, which stream do you want to go? -Meh, probably hospital. But we’ll see when we graduate.)

With the November cohort approaching, a large number of us will be wondering – I’m done with my contract, what now? Where do I go? Try my luck for permanent posting? Go community? Industry? Further my studies? And that, is where our story begins. This new series will look at some pharmacists who decided the mainstream was not for them and forged new pathways for themselves. Let’s hear their story.

1. Give us a brief introduction of yourself and your career journey so far

My name is Khai Yong, and I’m a pharmacist-turned Digital Marketer. I started my PRP training in 2008 in Hospital Muar. Back then, the digital scene in Malaysia was in its infant stages and I knew it was going to be the next big thing. I wanted to be part of it. I dreamt of living the digital nomad lifestyle which allows me to work from anywhere in the world, whenever I wanted. Hence, I spent my nights at home self-learning how to become a digital marketer and internet entrepreneur, while working as a pharmacist in the day.

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2. What was going through your mind when you were considering the switch, and what made you take the leap of faith?

Working in a pharmacy, being on the ground helping people was a great experience. However, I wasn’t fulfilled. I wanted to make a bigger impact on the world and I wanted to accomplish more, outside the confines of the hospital setting. I saw the internet revolution as my vehicle and that motivated me to spend close to 3 years, self-learning everything I needed to make a leap of faith.

3. What challenges have you faced while making this switch?

Learning stuff online was difficult back then. There were no organized courses on digital marketing and everything was a gamble. You had to learn from online marketing “gurus” but most of them were not legitimate. Most were teaching others how to make money without having made real money themselves. I decided to focus on growing my skills instead rather than chasing a money figure. The other challenge was preparing for “plan b”, in case things didn’t work out. I had to make sure I got my pharmacy license and other options if I planned to quit government service. I did just that, landed myself a job at a global internet-based education company (despite having no formal education in marketing) and the rest was history.

4. For those who are planning their next career destination and are looking to venture into something foreign, what advice do you have for them?

i) Passion is super important. I wouldn’t be where I am currently if I wasn’t certain this was what I wanted to do. Thankfully it worked out well for me. 

ii) You can learn pretty much almost anything online nowadays, it’s a great place to equip yourself with essential skills when embarking on a new career trajectory.

iii) When you feel you are ready, just go for it! There’s no “best time” to take action. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.


Editor’s note: This mini-series was a blast to edit – even I am excited to read what comes next. Well, spoiler alert – rolling stones may not gather moss, but they do gather momentum that snowballs. Stay tuned!