15 Oct 2020 Journey as a Student Leader in MDSA and IMU
“Embrace your infinite potential, because you are your only limit to becoming a better self”.
– MDSA 2019/2020
Being a part of MDSA has been an incredible and fulfilling journey which has enriched my life as a student during my undergraduate years. MDSA, also known as the Malaysian Dental Students’ Association, is a student-led association which aims to connect dental students from different universities across Malaysia and, represent the voice of dental students nationally and internationally.
My passion in organising events coupled with the drive to contribute to the dental students have motivated me to take the leap to apply for the President-elect of MDSA in 2018 and I was successfully elected. After a year of learning the ropes of managing the administration of MDSA, I took on the role as the president of MDSA for the 2019/2020 tenure.
Being a student leader comes with shouldering a heavy weight of responsibilities involved in leading an association while having to juggle between my studies, patient management in clinics, research and more! It was truly a test of my time management. I have always believed in the value of being active and participating meaningfully in activities with my peers, as it helps with the development of my soft skills such as communication, leadership and organisational skills which are important attributes and values gained beyond academics. These values enhance our growth as a person and shape us into becoming all-rounded individuals who will be able to contribute purposefully to the community and our profession in the future.
Malaysian Dental Students’ Association Executive Committee 2019/2020
In MDSA, learning never stops. I find myself developing new skills set along the journey. The biggest learning curve for me was in decision making. Through MDSA, we are able to expand our network not only among students from other universities, but also establish connection with dentists and some of the major stakeholders of dentistry in Malaysia such as the Malaysian Dental Association, Dental Deans’ Council and the Oral Health Programme of Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
This journey would not have been possible without the unwavering support from my peers and lecturers in IMU. My university life has played a pivotal role in shaping me into becoming a better leader. IMU provides an array of opportunities for students to take on leadership roles in organizing some of the major events in the university.
I was involved in organising IMU’s annual charity run, Chariofare and was part of the organizing committee of conferences held by IMU such as the APDSA congress 2018 and SEAADE 2019. One of my most fulfilling events was organizing the National Dental Intervarsity Games (NDIVG) in 2019. It was the first time that IMU played host to organizing this prestigious intervarsity sporting event which gathered 1000 participants all across Malaysia where students connected through our common love for sports.
Taking on the role as past president of IMU’s Oral Health Committee has given me the opportunity of leading a team of 16 members and representing the dental students of IMU at various platforms. This opportunity, coupled with other learning experiences from different events and working with my peers and lecturers, has provided a stepping stone for me to learn and gain my confidence to undertake bigger responsibilities to represent the dental students in Malaysia through MDSA.
Although gaining various experiences from extracurricular activities is important, academics will always be placed as my top priority as a student. I always strive to excel in my studies and constantly hone my clinical skills as I work towards my goal to becoming a competent dentist.
IMU emphasises a lot on self-directed learning and experiential learning which helps me in becoming an independent and inquisitive learner. We were exposed to clinics at the end of second year of my studies, which gave us an additional advantage of starting clinical work earlier. This provided us with more valuable opportunities to learn from our experienced specialists at our multidisciplinary clinic.
My clinical years in IMU was the phase which I found to be the greatest steep in my learning curve. As I progressed to higher semesters, I saw myself meeting a different set of expectations as I played a bigger role in the decision-making processes of managing my patients. Case discussions and reflections with my lecturers were some of the learning opportunities that I value a lot. Through this, I am able to identify my gaps in knowledge and learn from my mistakes which is a part and parcel of learning. Although we are constantly faced with the stress of having to meet higher expectations, it motivated me to further improve my clinical skills by reflecting and being more self-critical of my work.
Being in IMU and MDSA has encouraged me to be a more proactive learner in order to constantly improve to becoming a better version of myself. Armed with my personal experiences and IMU’s nurturing, I strive to continue my passion and dedication in my practice in the near future.
DT116 cohort of IMU School of Dentistry
Written by Jacklyn Ng Zhi Ling, President of Malaysian Dental Students’ Association 2019/2020 who is a final year dental student at the International Medical University.