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An IMU Scholar’s Journey to Become a Qualified Pharmacist in Malaysia

05 Jul 2019

I believe most are able to relate to this: the pressure from our parents, and the feelings of uncertainty and excitement that almost overwhelm us as we are deciding on our next step in life. While some were clear of where they are headed to, I had not made up my mind even after completing matriculation. Time was running out and I began to feel stressed up, not knowing what will happen in the future. I seem to have many interests in different areas which made it hard for me to pick a specific one as my career option. After a few months of discussion, reflection, and visiting open days, I eventually picked pharmacy out of several other courses. I was intrigued on the working mechanisms of medications, which are able to have such an enormous positive effect by just being in a tiny form. Furthermore, I was also attracted towards the manufacturing and formulation processes of these medications performed by pharmaceutical companies. I thought I knew everything about what a pharmacist does at that time but I was so wrong.  I realise this when I joined IMU and was exposed to the various roles of a pharmacist and what it takes to be a great one early in the pharmacy programme, ensuring that we had the proper mindset and expectations. Pharmacists are also versatile and have plenty of career paths to pick from, apart from the more traditional ones. My parents have always believed that education is of upmost importance and they strive to provide the best for my siblings and I. Since IMU is known to be one of the leading private healthcare universities, IMU had always been one of my choices to pursue a degree in. I finally made the decision to enroll in IMU due to their excellent track record in producing top quality pharmacists and the chance for a full scholarship. Thankfully, I was awarded the scholarship by IMU and was offered a place in February 2015 intake.

Throughout the past 4 years in IMU, some of the most enjoyable times that I had was participating in activities outside the classroom organised by the vast varieties of clubs and societies available. These activities were my way of relieving stress and connecting with those from other IMU programmes. Some of these activities were outdoor based such as cycling, and hiking up Broga Hill, while others were educational based. One of the more memorable memories came from volunteering in Christmas celebration with the folks of Rumah Charis. A group of volunteers went to decorate and clean their home, and had entertaining activities for them to participate in such as a photo booth and mini games. It was a fulfilling and heart-warming experience to be able to see them so happily participating with their funny poses and jokes. Another particular memorable event was taking part in frisbee competitions in IMU Cup. I started learning about frisbee in IMU and had since really gotten  into the sport, to the point of attending trainings during the study break for my finals. I also had the opportunity to lead the team once in a frisbee competition, where I learned the importance of teamwork and dealing with setbacks. Although we did not win in that particular year, there was satisfaction knowing that we did our best and we bonded closer from playing as a team. Apart from just participating in events, I also took the opportunity to challenge and improve myself by being in the organising committee for various events. Despite facing some tough challenges and frustrating times whilst planning for an event, I am grateful that I managed to pull through with the help and support from my committee members and friends. I strongly hold on to the notion that the journey before reaching a destination provides an equally enriching and valuable experience that will contribute to our growth.

The toughest part of my journey in IMU was during the final two semesters, where we worked on our research topic and prepared for attachments. It was a hectic and stressful time due to the workload of completing assignments and revising in preparation for the attachments. Nevertheless, by having the right mindset and support of my friends, it was definitely easier to go through that period. Despite those stressful times, I am glad to say that my whole cohort pulled through and we all successfully graduated together. After 4 years of studies, I finally graduated on the 29 June 2019. It was a very pleasant surprise when I received the email from IMU informing me about the awards. The awards are a testament to the blessings, assistance, and support that I have received throughout my studies in IMU. I thank God for my parents, girlfriend, my close friends, classmates and colleagues who, in one way or another, had played a role in motivating and supporting me to always do my best in all that I worked on. I feel delighted and honoured to be selected as the recipient of the awards from the School of Pharmacy, IMU, the place where I grew in wisdom and received knowledge, especially from my dear lecturers.

Awards Won
Board of Governors’ Gold Medal
Duopharma Biotech Berhad Award for Excellence in Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Boehringer Ingelheim Award for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Chemistry
Kotra Pharma Award for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Technology
Kotra Pharma Award for Excellence in Research

(Note: Keng Wah was also in the Dean’s List of Graduands with High Academic Achievement) 

Several months after completing my finals, I joined the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia to undergo my training as a provisionally registered pharmacist (PRP). I have attached to several departments and it has been an eye-opening experience as the expectations are now different and I am able to truly see the impact of the roles that pharmacists play in a hospital setting. Although there are still plenty of new knowledge to acquire from the training, I am confident that IMU had prepared me with the relevant skills needed to do so.

Last but not least, for those who are interested in pursuing pharmacy, talk to a pharmacist and get to know what it really takes to be a great one. Leave behind any preconceptions and understand the importance and roles that a pharmacist plays in contributing to our society. If you strongly believe you have the passion to be one, welcome, and all the best in your future to you!

Written by Foong Keng Wah

Related article: The International Medical University Confers One of its Founders with the Honorary Doctor of Medical Education

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