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Allison Hoh Gar Ooi’s Journey in Chinese Medicine

03 Jun 2022

Author of this article, Allison Hoh Gar Ooi (in the photo above) is currently working as a Chinese Medicine Practitioner  in Petaling Jaya

“Don’t be afraid to take new or unfamiliar paths. Sometimes they’re the ones that take you to the most beautiful and magical places.” Growing up in a family of business and accounting backgrounds, choosing Chinese Medicine as my degree and my future career path is never an easy decision. But, I am glad that I have chosen this path with the strongest and fullest support from my family. Like many people, I joined an education fair to survey on the different universities and compare the different degrees on offer. Somehow by coincidence, I decided to pursue and start my fruitful yet challenging journey of Chinese Medicine in IMU. “Is Chinese Medicine boring?” “Is Chinese Medicine hard to study and master?” These two questions are the frequently asked questions whenever I tell anyone I’m studying Chinese Medicine. The truth or the answer is, no. It is neither boring nor easy to master it. Each course definitely will have its own difficulties and challenges or obstacles. While studying for the Chinese Medicine course, we are not only required to learn about all the herbs and acupuncture points but also learn the basics of western medicine, from radiology, pharmacology to psychology.

Author of this article, Gar Ooi (back row, third from right) with her CM114 batchmates at the IMU Bukit Jalil campus

So is it difficult? Yes. But is definitely interesting and useful to learn, especially to apply all in the future clinical practice. Journey of learning is therefore really tough and challenging. Sometimes, there will be days where I will doubt myself, my ability and feel miserable for my future, but gladly, there is mutual support and encouragement from family, lecturers and friends along the way. Those days where we worked hard together to organise the IMU Chinese Medicine Week, survived all kind of difficulties together, and passed those semesters’ final exams together – my CM 114 batch mates definitely made my university life even more memorable and remarkable. “Strength and growth come only through continual efforts and struggles.”

Upon graduating with a Chinese Medicine degree after 4 years in IMU, I decided to complete my internship in Shanghai, China for 1 year. Throughout the 1-year internship at ShuGuang Hospital, I had more exposure to how western medicine and Chinese medicine are integrated and practised under one roof in China.

I was assigned to different departments for clinical training in both western and Chinese medicine. I also had the opportunities to enter and join surgery sessions which I have always wanted to do. During my internship in Shanghai, I also met lots of excellent and famous doctors who are generous in sharing their clinical experiences with me. In hospital, they taught and shared with me plenty of interesting clinical cases. I also met new friends from different provinces in China and Hong Kong. They are all friendly and we always hang out together to explore Shanghai city and food-hunting trips for dishes or food items that are a must-try when visiting Shanghai like Xiaolongbao or Soup Dumplings! In addition to that, one of the most obvious benefits of having international friends is the opportunity to share your languages and cultures. I had learnt some simple Shanghai and Chengdu dialects where I can mix around and communicate better with the local doctors and patients! After one whole year in Shanghai, I came back to my homeland, Malaysia with even more clinical experiences and more unforgettable, precious memories.

Now, I am working as a Chinese Medicine Practitioner at a TCM Centre in Petaling Jaya. I have been treating patients from the young to the elderly, from locals to foreigners, from general pain and sprains through to internal medicine, cosmetic acupuncture and mental health issues. Upon starting my career as Chinese medicine practitioner, the pressure and responsibility are not easy to handle, as many patients question my ability because of my age and look. The challenges as a physician can be as tough as studying at university. However, I will always use my professional understanding to explain to them patiently about their problems and devise the best treatment plan for them.

My experience is that sometimes instead of using herbal medicine or acupuncture treatment to treat patients, it is more important to spend some time to communicate, listen to their feelings and problems and then give comfort and encouragement to them. This can often alleviate the symptoms of patients or improve the efficacy of treatments. Whenever I received those messages or gifts of gratitude or good news from the patients, I felt that all the hard work and patience are totally worthwhile.

Besides, I feel grateful to the patients who trusted me, having confidence in my treatment plans and coming to the centre for follow-ups regularly. I am also grateful for the experiences and knowledge that I gained from IMU and the clinical internship in Shanghai. I apply these experiences and knowledge in my daily clinical cases and have been able to assist more patients for better health and well-being and thus achieving better quality of life. Patient feedbacks and improvements are my biggest motivation. It made me not regret my initial choice of choosing Chinese medicine. All great achievements require time. Any great achievement is preceded by many difficulties and lessons. Never be afraid of failures as great achievements are not possible without them. I will keep learning and continue to help more people with the intention of making the society healthier and happier. Written by Allison Hoh Gar Ooi

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