27 Sep 2018 IMU: A Chevening Catalyst!
As we exited the graduation hall, the warm Scottish summer sun welcomed the P106 cohort. It showered us with light that seemed to suggest that hope and opportunity lie awaiting for us as we enter the world as graduate pharmacists. After all, our past 2 and a half years at the International Medical University (IMU), Malaysia and final year at the University of Strathclyde, UK has endowed us with knowledge and confidence to challenge anything. Reflecting on my journey to date, I can testify that both universities did a great job.
My journey as a pharmacist started back in September 2009. I was posted to Sungai Buloh Hospital to train as a Provisionally Registered Pharmacist. I was subsequently retained and throughout the next 7 years served as an outpatient pharmacist, inpatient pharmacist, inventory control pharmacist and a therapeutic drug monitoring pharmacist.
While working at the Inventory Control Unit, I was given the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars where I discovered my passion for Health Economics. This passion sparked a chain of events which I spearheaded to help manage the hospital’s drug expenditure. I helped establish a Pharmacoeconomics Evaluation (PE) Committee to regulate drugs entering the hospital formulary. As a founding member, I contributed significantly by conducting training sessions to educate my department on PE skills and evaluated drugs entering the formulary. During a severe drug budget crisis in 2016, I proposed and led the preparation of an annual hospital pharmacy operating budget report with drugs classified based on criticality. The report strengthened the justification for additional fund applications from the State Health Department which we eventually secured. In recognition of my team’s effort, I was invited to give an inventory management lecture to Inventory Control Pharmacists in Selangor.
Apart from Health Economics, I am passionate in research and thus transferred to the hospital’s Clinical Research Centre (CRC) where I work as a clinical research pharmacist. After a year, I decided that it was time to academically improve myself. As I was searching for potential Universities to enrol for a Master degree in Health Economics, I stumbled upon a scholarship called Chevening.
The Chevening Scholarship is funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Office in the United Kingdom (UK) and is one of their long standing programmes that promote diplomacy and human resource investment among the Commonwealth nations. Scholars are required to return back to their respective home countries for at least 2 years for nation building after completing their studies. The Scholarship covers the fees for any 1 year Masters course in any University in the UK. It also provides a monthly stipend which is adequate to cover both food and lodging. Enthralled by this opportunity, I immediately applied!
The Chevening Scholarship is open for applications annually from August to early November. Personal details and documents are keyed in and uploaded online onto their web portal. The core of the application lies in the 4 mandatory essays. The first essay is on leadership, i.e. how you may be a future leader or influencer in your home country. The second essay focuses on your networking skills and capabilities. The third essay inquires upon your university and course selection (you are allowed 3), and how they relate to your previous academic or professional experience and plans for the future. Finally, the last essay requires you to write your short and long term goals after achieving your Master degree. After multiple versions, corrections and proof readings, I successfully clicked the submit button.
Following the online application, preliminary results were released in February the following year. I was delighted to know that I was selected for the next stage, which was an interview session. The interview was held with 3 interviewers at the British High Commission. They mainly asked about my essays, but in greater depth. After that, it was another waiting period until early June. Final results were announced. I was overjoyed! I had achieved a Chevening Scholarship award!
I will be going to London to pursue an MSc in International Health Policy (Health Economics) at the London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2018. Additionally, I soon discovered that 2 other pharmacists from IMU, Khor Wei Ping and Devi Shantini Rata Mohan, received the award to pursue their MSc in Clinical Pharmacy at University College London.
On hindsight, I must admit that my experience in IMU has helped me in securing this Scholarship. IMU is very much built on a culture that promotes independent learning while fostering maturity and creative thinking. Classes like problem based learning helped me develop critical thinking to apply knowledge gained from classroom to solve real world problems. The Personal Skills Development (PSD) Module helped me to take initiative and explore unfamiliar territories in my life to improve myself. Apart from classes, IMU offers plenty of student activities to participate in. Be it as a participant of the IMU Cup (our University’s annual sports championship), joining student societies and organising charity events, these activities helped me develop my networking and leadership skills while promoting responsibility and accountability toward peers.”
“Moreover, IMU provides a very valuable tutoring system that matches groups of students to a lecturer. My tutor, A/Prof Kang Yew Beng, played the role of a life coach who was very supportive in giving valuable advice and guidance towards personal development. Even after graduating for more than 9 years, we still maintain close contact as friends and his continual mentorship significantly influences my personality and ambitions.
In summary, exposure in IMU has enabled me to think critically about problems at work while empowering me to take initiatives to explore and be creative at offering effective solutions. My participation in student societies has given me confidence to lead and network with others to ensure planned endeavours can succeed. Coupled with the motivation to continuously improve myself from a trusted mentor, IMU has honed my leadership and networking skills whilst giving me clarity on career development and purpose in life. These are the recipes required for the Chevening Scholarship, all of which I am very grateful for. May IMU continue to positively impact and influence many more future graduates to come!
Written by: Nicholas Hing Yee Liang, IMU P106
In 2018, three pharmacy graduates from IMU, Nicholas Hing Yee Liang, Khor Wei Ping and Devi Shantini Rata Mohan, received the Chevening Scholarship to pursue their Master degree at a university in UK. They were chosen from the 50,000 Chevening scholarship applicants worldwide this year.
Read about Wei Ping’s journey at Achieving My UK Dream with a Chevening Scholarship.