Hi there! I am Sok May, a private hospital pharmacist working in Sunway Medical Centre, Bandar Sunway. I completed my Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) in 2016 and started my career as a locum pharmacy technician at Sunway Medical Centre for 4 months. Then I got my offer as Provisionally Registered Pharmacist (PRP) at IHH Healthcare.
After completing my one-year PRP in Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, I was transferred to the sister hospital, Gleneagles Hospital Medini Johor, and practiced as a pharmacist for 3 years, where I had an opportunity to be promoted to a managerial role -acting chief pharmacist. In 2022, I decided to relocate to my hometown and work at Sunway Medical Centre, Bandar Sunway.
I was thinking deeply about the inadequacy of my bachelor’s degree in terms of my future career advancement. I decided to further my studies at the master’s level in pharmacy or management programme. I enquired and found out that most of the pharmacy postgraduate programme requires students to attend classes on weekdays, which lacks flexibility for working professionals. As most of the campuses are in Klang Valley, it was inconvenient for me to travel as I was working in Johor Bahru then.
Fortunately, during the pandemic in 2020, I learned that IMU offers a Master in Pharmacy Practice (MPP) with classes conducted during the weekends and online due to COVID-19 pandemic. I enrolled in this programme and chose the Pharmacy Management stream. This stream fits into my choice of studying both pharmacy and management.
Prior to enrolling in the MPP programme, I held the expectation that I would be capable of juggling a full-time job alongside my pursuit of further education. With the flexibility of part-time study for 2-6 years, I was able to complete my degree in 2.5 years.
During the course, I learned to manage my time and set my priorities. As a working adult, I spent my time during the day at work and nights are dedicated to preparing for assignments. It was challenging as I needed to invest considerable effort and engage in extensive reading to gain further understanding and complete the assignments.
Besides that, it pushes me further as I leave my comfort zone to venture into something new – Research. It is something new as I had not done any research in my previous education, and I always dreamt of writing a thesis and presenting in a conference one day.
The preparation of research was tough, but my supervisors are always there to guide me and advise me. My supervisors also encouraged the research students to participate in conferences to sharpen their oral presentation skills. I enjoyed the weekly discussion with my supervisors and course mates to catch up on our research progress. The weekly discussions were bittersweet memories as we tried our best to meet our weekly target progress and prepare for the conferences and assessments.
We witness the growth in each other as we progress from having limited knowledge about research to our viva voce examination. My hard work paid off when my thesis was accepted by the examination office, as exemplified by the proverb “No pain, no gain.”
Throughout my master’s programme, I had the opportunity to present my research project at two international conferences, which were the 9th International Postgraduate Conference on Pharmaceutical Sciences (iPoPS) 2022 and 28th Federation of Asian Pharmaceutical Associations (FAPA) Congress 2022.
The master’s degree helps to broaden my perspective. Not just those working in a pharmacy setting but also collaborating with other professionals in healthcare institutions to improve patients care.
As most of the assignments and discussions revolved around presentations, I have learned to enhance my oral presentation skills and I’m more confident to share my ideas in a constructive manner.
In addition, I had the opportunity to conduct a survey on patient safety culture among healthcare professionals as part of my research project in both my past and present hospital workplaces. This endeavor not only raised awareness regarding patient safety but also provided valuable insights into the existing patient safety culture within the hospital settings. It helps me to understand more about quality care and I have gained interest in the quality of healthcare.
The knowledge of human resource and financial management learned throughout the degree, helps me to understand more about staff training, satisfaction, profit and loss as well as inventory management. In the Entrepreneurial Leadership course, I learned to design a new service and market the product/services to our target audience. This helps me to analyse the strength and weaknesses of health services provided and how to improve to meet the patient’s needs.
My journey at IMU was fruitful, I have learned a lot from the programme and my peers, certainly, it helped me to achieve my dream goal. The confidence of my supervisors and lecturers in my ability boosted my learning thirst and finally crowned me with a master’s degree.
Written by Cheong Sok May
Reviewed by Dr Palanisamy