IMU alumnus, Yong Wen Peng started his foray into medicine when he quit studying Engineering and joined IMU as a medical student. After 2.5 years at IMU, he then transferred to University of Southampton, one of IMU’s partner universities for completion of his medical degree. He is currently working as an ENT (Otolaryngology) Junior Clinical Fellow in Addenbrooke’s Hospital and an Anatomy Demonstrator in University of Cambridge. We managed to catch up with him recently and interviewed him on his journey to where he is now. Current employment Working as an ENT (Otolaryngology) Junior Clinical Fellow in Addenbrooke’s Hospital and an Anatomy Demonstrator in University of Cambridge is a dual role position. Half of my working time, I work as an ENT doctor in the hospital. This involves doing on-calls covering admissions and referrals, running clinics, looking after patients on the wards and of course, assisting in theatres.
The other half of my time is spent in the Anatomy Department at the University of Cambridge. The University of Cambridge teaches anatomy via lectures and cadaveric dissection. Each group of students is provided with a donor (cadaver), which they dissect according to the teaching topic and learn as they do so. My role as an Anatomy Demonstrator involves delivering a short tutorial to the groups and assists them in cadaveric dissection. During off term time, I am involved with research projects usually involving anatomy and medical education. Experience studying at IMU My time in IMU remains to be one of the best times I had as a medical student. Looking back, every memory in IMU is significant. From orientation to mountain hiking, to revising for EOS, to passing Semester 5, each one of them is dear to me.
It started off with the decision to switch from Engineering to Medicine. Followed by the famous IMU orientation, where every junior gets their egos challenged through the two-weeks-long series of activities (and yet, it remains to be the best experience etched in every IMUian’s memory) to attending the 2 hours lecture a day and spending the rest of the day in the library studying *ahem* and revising with your peers for EOS and OSCEs.
I sometimes wonder whether IMU Bukit Jalil was intentionally designed to be small to encourage interaction between different disciplines – multidisciplinary integration we call it.
The two and a half years in IMU has also flourished my life outside medicine. Being a part of the Infinity Milers family has not only brought me through hills and valleys and completed kilometres long runs; it has also provided me with the opportunity to forge valuable friendships. Even when I go for my routine jog these days, I am always reminiscing the times when we jogged together, scaled mountains together, sang the Miler’s song proudly together “… because we love our school, and we want it to be good, to be good…”
During my time in IMU, I was also a Student Ambassador (SA). That was the first year IMU introduced the role. Due to my busybody-ness and my involvement in various extracurricular activities, I somehow managed to get myself into the SA programme. I am not sure how SA has evolved to now, during my time, we were told that the Student Council represents students and Student Ambassador represents the university. We participate in leadership camps and grooming courses to ensure that we have the right quality to represent the institution. Being a Student Ambassador has also given me the chance to dine with Dean’s from Partner Medical Schools, which was a rare opportunity.
Experience at Partner Medical School in UK Doing clinical years in the UK is an entirely different ball game. Not only that you are studying in a difference environment and culture, but you are also going through the transition between pre-clinical years and clinical years. I came over with a group of my batchmates and junior batchmates, which I am grateful for. There is a Chinese idiom that goes “you depend on your parents when you are at home, you rely on your friends when you are away.” Despite having to do clinical placements in different areas in the region, we always make time to celebrate birthdays and festive seasons together. We also continued with our IMU senior-junior spirit by organising mock OSCEs for our juniors. Learning culture is one big difference in Malaysia and the UK. In Malaysia, we are known to be more spoon-fed, while in the UK, it is mainly self-directed learning. In my humble opinion, there are pros and cons with both systems. One that was evident to me when I first came over was that IMU students seem to have a more solid knowledge base. However, comparing to the locals, we are less eloquent in communicating them. Why did you choose this particular partner university? I chose the University of Southampton for various reasons – Fees, Friends, Degree. Yes, in that order. Without sufficient funds, you won’t be able to complete your degree; without friends, you will be too busy thinking about the fun times you had in IMU, Malaysia; and of course, the qualification that you will be graduating with. During my days in IMU, University of Southampton has one of the lowest fee structures in England, so that was one tick. When it was my turn to rank the PMS, a few of my seniors from IMU are already doing the 3rd year in Southampton, the second tick. And finally, which I subsequently found out, you graduate from Southampton with a double degree! Memorable experience in Southampton One of my memorable experiences in Southampton was when I found out that I passed my 3rd-year exams. Due to tight schedules, I had to fly back to Malaysia for my electives before the release of my exam results. And to make things more interesting, the results were due to come out as I was flying back to Malaysia. On arrival, everybody was busy connecting to the KLIA’s wifi. And to my delight, I passed. Greatest achievement so far From my point of view, I consider being offered a job to teach at the University of Cambridge one of my greatest achievements to date. The University of Cambridge has always been an institution that I have dreamt to be in one day, and here I am. Cambridge is a place full of history and inspiration, hosting notable people such as James Paget, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, James Watson, Francis Crick and much more! Forefront researches are constantly ongoing in each department. As for me, one of the studies that I am doing now might change the context of anatomy textbooks. Moreover, I was surprised and honoured at the same time when I found out that Prof David Riches, who is an ex-Dean of IMU, is one of the senior anatomy demonstrators in Cambridge. How often do you get to say that you are your Dean’s colleague? The position that I am taking up at the moment is not part of the national training programme. One of the reasons I applied for this position is the intention to expand my experience in research and medical education with plans to pursue specialisation in neurosurgery. Where else to gain experience in teaching if not at one of the best university in the world?
I am the first non British doctor who got offered this position. I found out that they had to go beyond to hire me due to my visa status. They never had to do it before this.
|Your future plans|
|At the moment, I aim to pursue my speciality training in Australia|
|Advise to students aspiring to be doctors|
|The medical profession is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a lot of commitment and dedication. However, if you are someone who has a glowing heart and is keen to utilise your skills to make someone life a tad better, you are considering the right field.|
We would like to thank Wen Peng for taking the time to answer all the questions and we hope that his story will inspire future doctors.