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I Am Now a Covid-19 Frontliner!!!! – My Experience as a Postgraduate Student While Battling a Pandemic

15 Sep 2021

IMU’s Master in Pharmacy Practice student, Annaletchumi Arrumugam (left), at work with one of her collegues.

What?? Movement Control Order!!! It was a shocking surprise as former Prime Minister YAB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the commencement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything was to be shut down and all the economic sectors came to a screeching halt. However, the health sector was to take the limelight and be at the forefront in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Malaysian Ministry of Health was now front and centre with its top priority of battling and containing the onset and spread of the COVID-19 virus. Government medical personnel were the first line of defence to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. At this moment, I was no longer just a pharmacist at a government hospital, I was now a part of this massive effort by the MOH to bring order and resolution to this newly emerged chaos. I am now a frontliner!

Void space in my life

It wasn’t always like this.

My everyday life was pleasant, and everything went on smoothly. My job as a pharmacist was great being surrounded by good friends and colleagues. I had a balanced work and personal life, and one may think everything was fine. However, I realised something was missing and this void had to be addressed.

I wanted more out of life, I wanted more out of me, I could feel there was still potential in me to be achieved. An upgrade, an improved version of me if you will. After nine years as a pharmacist in the government sector, I had decided to go back to school and pursue my postgraduate degree.

The journey began as I researched and reviewed possible options of schools at which I could pursue my postgraduate degree. This was easier said than done as the school selected would have to fulfil a range of criteria’s such as being recognized by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, flexible enough to cater to my working schedule, possess a comprehensive and quality syllabus that would support my career growth and especially value for money. Fulfilling my requirements, International Medical University (IMU) was the inevitable choice as IMU’s Master in Pharmacy Practice provided everything that I sought for in a postgraduate programme.

Master in Pharmacy Practice at IMU

It wasn’t easy working and being in school at the same time. It was sometimes a little overwhelming but the flexible scheduling of classes on weekends made it easier for me to pursue my studies despite having a full-time job.

I would travel to KL from Penang via flight or sometimes I would drive down. It would be like a mini vacation as I left Penang and headed for classes in KL during the weekends. Traveling as such had its cost, however, thanks to the affordable postgraduate programme at IMU, I was able to cope and get the best of both worlds, education and meeting new people at IMU.

The peers I met were professionals from various backgrounds and this enriched my learning at IMU. The professors and teachers at IMU are some of the best I have had the pleasure of meeting. They are very professional and added with their vast experience and knowledge, had contributed to an amazing learning experience at IMU.

Everything was fantastic and going on smoothly until Malaysia was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a pharmacist with the Ministry of Health, I am now a frontliner in the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health sector is considered an “Essential Service” and went into overdrive while all other sectors were shut down by the Malaysian Government to contain the spread of COVID-19. This included the education sector, physical classes at IMU had to be ceased until further notice from the government.

IMU always has the best interest of their students at heart. Despite the physical classes being instructed to be stopped, IMU adapted and utilised the technology at hand. Classes were diverted to an online platform. Now not only will IMU classes be conducted as per schedule, but it will be in a safe manner for everyone.

Transition During MCO
The transition from physical classes to online classes has not changed anything drastically in IMU for my postgraduate programme. Assignments, tests, tutorials, and deadlines were quite feasible as from the beginning of the semester all dates for important submissions are discussed and informed to the students. This has been a tremendous help for all of us in the postgraduate programme as it allows us to plan and schedule our work, group discussions, and assignment submission dates.

IMU lecturers are very professional as they would monitor and communicate with us regularly to ensure we are up to par on our studies and assignments. Communication is constant via group emails, TEAMS meetings, and WhatsApp to ensure all students are updated accordingly. In addition, the attention from lecturers coupled with the words of encouragement and wisdom keep us motivated during these trying times.

Life must go on even though Covid-19 happened. Emotionally it is a roller coaster ride as the pandemic has yet to be brought under control in Malaysia. Nonetheless, I would have to concur that IMU has made my education journey an incredible as well as an efficient one despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic – this is proof that even COVID-19 will not stop the learning at IMU!

I would have to applaud and credit the fantastic management, staff, and academicians at IMU for their wonderful support and understanding during the MCO period. I am very thankful and blessed to have chosen IMU, their immense dedication towards my education and ensuring my success has been unwavering during the pandemic, especially with understanding my challenges of being a frontliner who is simultaneously pursuing a postgraduate degree.

Finally, I am blessed with a wonderful family as they stand as a pillar of support while I am a frontliner battling the COVID-19 pandemic and concurrently at the last phase of my postgraduate programme at IMU towards achieving the goal of being

Annaletchumi Arrumugam, Master in Pharmacy Practice.

Written by : Annaletchumi Arrumugam

Reviewed by: Dr Palanisamy Sivanandy

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