Mustafa Sharief Sayed Mohammed have had his interest in Medicine as early as pre-school. However, coming from a family of doctors; his late father a neurosurgeon and his brother a medical student at the time, he saw how stressful and demanding medicine can be as a career and take its toll on a person’s life. That fear, compounded by his love for ‘speed’; finishing school and university as fast as possible, caused him to stray away from medicine initially. So, after graduating high school at the age of twelve, Mustafa moved to Malaysia to continue his studies in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Nearly four years later, he learned the long and hard way that without interest, every career would feel stressful and demanding and worse yet unsatisfying. Mustafa then quit engineering school, moved back home to Sudan and took a gap year. During this gap year, he explored other fields but settled on none. Eventually, Mustafa succumbed to his passion in medicine and decided to answer the calling and whatever hardships may follow. He has not looked back since. In 2020, he was awarded the Dr. John Joseph Bosco Memorial Gold Medal, having achieved the highest academic excellence throughout his degree and the Professor Guan Chong Book Prize. Mustafa shares his experience here. Prior to joining IMU, I attended Taylor’s College at Subang Jaya and completed the Canadian Pre-university Programme with a Merit Scholar Award. My family initially suggested that I pursue medicine in Canada. However, I had grown fond of Malaysia and its people and also the long years I would have had to endure in Canada before securing placement in a medical school was least to say not at all tempting. IMU was recommended to me by a trusted and dear family friend and I never hesitated or questioned the recommendation as every search I did on the institution yielded only excellent reviews. The fact that it was recognised by the medical council back in my country significantly weighed in on my decision as well. My Fantastic Journey at IMU Studying Medicine My IMU journey was an absolute blast! My time in Bukit Jalil for the duration of Phase One (2.5 years) was filled with overwhelming joy. I forged lifelong friendships with friends and loved ones from more than eight different countries. The shift to the Clinical Campus in Seremban for the second phase of my journey was exciting but not without hardships. Settling into a new city, having to learn the local language ‘Bahasa Melayu’ in addition to adapting to the new dynamic and interactive methods of learning from the patients and life in a hospital. In spite of the hardships, I found the latter phase of my studies far more memorable and illuminating from an academic and personal growth perspective. One element amongst many that is worth highlighting about life in the Clinical Campus and IMU in general is full of endless possibilities, the sky is the limit! There is no limit to what any student can accomplish. We the students set our own heights, we push and test our limits and we do so with the relentless support of the faculty and Student Services staff. No idea is too farfetched and no obstacle too great to hinder us reaching new heights. It is this very element that shaped the whole of my experience at IMU as it provided room for wonderful opportunities.
Extra-curricular activities / Achievements / Support by IMU I took part in various extra-curricular activities during my time at IMU, most of which were during the second phase of my studies. Being an avid football player, I participated in many intravarsity sports events. I was appointed Football and futsal captain for House Griffin in 2016. Upon moving to the Clinical Campus, I became the event coordinator for the newly found sports club and successfully arranged weekly sport sessions for the students. Besides that, I was also a member of IMU’s First Trauma Team, along with some of the finest minds in the IMU ME1/15 batch and under the supervision of Dr Rosdara Masayuni the Emergency Medicine Specialist. Our trauma team took part in multiple competitions and conferences, all of which were fully funded by IMU. We even won 1st place at the ‘Intervarsity Emergency Quiz and Trauma Moulage Competition 2019’ at AIMST University Kedah. We also attended and participated in the Trauma Moulage Competition at the ‘First Borneo Trauma Update Conference 2019’ held in Sabah. We were the first ever and only team of medical students to compete against nine other teams of trained doctors, it was truly an invaluable experience as we managed to secure 2nd and 5th place in the quiz and moulage respectively. The team had the opportunity to attend the ‘1st Malaysia Trauma Conference 2018’ at Putrajaya where I had a chance to present my case (Missed occult hip fracture with devastating sequelae: The importance of realizing the “Red Flag”) for oral poster presentation. We were also the 1st runner up in the ‘Platinum 10 Trauma competition 2018’ organised by the IMU Orthopaedics Society. Somewhere before all the trophies and between all the tension, these team members became more than friends, more like family. Those memories will forever be cherished! Another memorable moment for me was when I was elected president of the IMU Surgical Society 2018/2019. With the help of my extremely dedicated committee members and the guidance of our dear Advisor, Prof Dato Dr Kandasami Palayan and the rest of the surgical department faculty members, we succeeded in organising multiple events at an Intra/intervarsity, national and even international scale. My contribution to this society is one of my proudest and most memorable achievements.
|How did I feel when I was told I am the top student in my class?|
|Dumbfounded!…definitely blessed! I had only learnt about the Gold Medal prize at the start of my final year as it was never the goal. It was definitely one of the happiest, most memorable moments for me as it was announced by one of my favourite lecturers, Dr Abdul Rasyid Sulaiman and I was surrounded by many great friends and dear batchmates.|
|What are other achievements have you had during your time at IMU?|
|Apart from the Dr John Joseph Bosco Memorial Gold Medal award I was also awarded the Professor Guan Chong Book Prize for the most outstanding student in surgery, a prize that I am especially fond off in lieu of my passion for surgery and my intention to pursue it as a career. Prior to that I was on the distinction list in Semester 9.|
|What is your motivation to achieve this?|
|I was raised by an extremely loving and determined single mother after the passing of my late father when I was eleven years old, along with four of my brothers. My mother worked tirelessly since to ensure that we received only the best education. Being a teacher herself ‘there is no price too high for good education’, she would always say. I was financially and morally supported by my mother and four brothers who spared no expense but it was not without hardship. More importantly, in spite of my earlier indecisiveness and lack of vision in choosing a career path, my mom always saw potential and supported it, even at times when I myself couldn’t. The thought of her undying belief in my ability is the very thing I drew strength and inspiration from to help me push through my darkest days. In fact, my main goal in life has always been to put a smile on her face through my achievements. I think I just might have! My fellow batchmates, friends and loved ones have also played an instrumental role in helping me get through the daily struggles, without them this achievement would not have been possible.|
How do I think my degree will prepare me for the future? In this day and age, medical resources are readily available online and no matter which country or university we choose, most of us study the same material. IMU however has provided me with more than academic excellence, It was as much a part of my upbringing and personal development as it was from an academic perspective. It is my genuine belief that the clinical experience passed on to us from who I strongly believe to be the finest clinicians and minds in Malaysia is what distinguishes the IMU Clinical Campus from any other. Resilience, maturity, independence in learning and professionalism amongst many other traits are the kind of lifelong lessons that I picked up during my time in Clinical Campus which I feel will be of utmost importance in helping me succeed in my future endeavours.
|Where I am now and my future plans?|
|I am currently back home in Sudan, spending time with family and friends as I await my housemanship placement. During this waiting period, I also plan to explore alternative pathways to reach my ultimate goal, which is to become a surgeon. There is a lot of uncertainties during this period, the only thing certain is that I feel well equipped to handle whatever comes next. Thanks to IMU and the love and support of family and loved ones.|
Advice to Students My advice to those interested in Medicine is, if you are choosing it as a career make sure it is your own personal choice and that your choice is mainly inspired by passion and pure interest, otherwise it would be a tedious and unforgiving journey. For those currently fighting through the pick, a wise professor of mine once cited a famous quote ‘Direction is more important than speed, many people are going nowhere ..fast’. Pace yourself. Set small goals. Don’t compare yourself to others, focus on yourself instead. Don’t compete, but if you must, then be kind and do it to better others around you. Most importantly you must learn to enjoy this journey because only that would make it worthwhile. Hear what Mustafa has to say in this video. Related articles: Golden Opportunity for IMU Medical Students at 1st Malaysia Trauma Conference IMU Medical Students Shine in Intervarsity Clinical Emergency Quiz Competition 2019 IMU Lecturer and Students Shine at 1st Borneo Trauma Update 2019 Conference and Trauma Moulage Competition