9 Aug 2016 My Journey towards a Career in Medicine
I remember very clearly the day I was in my doctor’s office. I was a patient at the age of 8, and I was told in the next few hours that I am going to be blind very soon due to an illness. I was in pain, worried about future, at the age when others’ biggest worry is not being able to watch their favorite TV show.
Thanks to the medical advancements a few years later, I didn’t go blind. In fact I now have 20/20 vision (after multiple surgeries). But that changed the way I am. I always ask “Why me?” Why I have to go through so much pain at such young age, why I need to worry if I will have eyesight in the future while others were travelling around the world. The experience also fueled my desire to be a doctor.
In 2009 , I received a JPA scholarship to study medicine at IMU. The experience I gained in IMU is more than any medical textbook can teach. Any medical school can teach medicine, but only some can teach us to be a better clinician. And IMU is definitely one of it. In clinical school, I get to discuss with some of the top clinicians in Malaysia, being taught by them on empathy, passion and ethics. They were amazing role models, and just by observing them we learn to be better in what we do. If there is one thing I am proud about IMU is the quality of our academicians and I am so lucky to have formed lifelong connections with them.
In 2014, I was elected as the President of SRC of Clinical School. I was actively involved in transforming the SRC in Clinical School. I was very passionate about making a change within the Clinical School. I drafted a new constitution, organised a fair election, lead the renovation of student lounge, and ensured students’ academic welfare is well taken care of. During my term, I had the opportunity to brush shoulders with excellent academicians and leaders in healthcare. I learnt so much from there on how to run an organisation. I have a special interest in medical education, thus I took the opportunity to learn the qualities that are needed in an academician.
Remember how I used to ask myself “Why me?”. That question was answered when I received distinction in my final MBBS exam and was listed under Dean’s List for Academic Excellence. Why I have to suffer? Because I am so blessed. Blessed to have a loving supportive family, blessed to have the best medical services available to treat me, blessed to have the sufficient financial support. That’s the reason. Isn’t it better for me to go through it rather than someone poor, and homeless? We suffer because we have the sufficient courage and blessings to make it through. The sufferings make us better.
I can proudly say the brief period (10 years) of being a patient, has taught me how to be a better clinician. I learnt that as a clinician, I should never leave my patients’ bedside without alleviating their fear and worries. In clinical school, when I see patients in the ward, I make sure every patient will smile before I leave their bedside. I make sure they do, and I make sure they know their illness is temporary if it is. And every time when the patients say “thank you Dr”, I believe I am being blessed by them. And I believe that’s the reason for my good results in exams. Of course the crazy wee hours studying, and guidance from our lecturers helped. But my lecturers’ and patients’ blessings surely gave me the extra push.
I was just a medical student, I did not change anything, and I did not prescribe any medications. I just made them feel comfortable and most of the time that’s something they really need. To feel comfortable, for someone to hold their hands and say “It’s going to be alright”. The only reason I know this is because, once I was a patient in need of my doctors to say “my dear, it’s going to be alright”.
My advice to juniors, always be loving to your patients no matter how high your position is. It’s not easy in our busy schedule, but we must try. They are scared, and worried. They have family to feed, partners to love, and future to build. Love them regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Don’t ever judge them, we don’t know what they are going through. Every one of us is suffering, it’s subjective. A homeless or a millionaire, both have sleepless nights. We must love every one of them, care for them as though they are our family members. It might not give us a pay raise, but the blessings we receive from them will bring us very far in life. I firmly believe in that. We must also engage ourselves in discussion about humanity and justice every day. The world is changing, we should come out of our comfort zone, irrational religious/cultural constraints and learn every day.
If you are going through a hard phase in life, hang in there as it is going to be alright. One day, you will be given an answer for all your sufferings. Remember, the universe is preparing you for something great. They need a captain and you, the captain need rigorous training.
For those who are blessed with success and love, please look behind and bring along those who are not as lucky as you. The only reason we are blessed is because we are supposed to share it with others. Let us always share our love, blessings and always be passionate about working hard to improve others’ life.