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My Journey as a Pharmacy Student at IMU

11 Oct 2016

My name is Rohen Jayakumar and I am 21 years old. I am a Bachelor of Pharmacy undergraduate from International Medical University (IMU) who would be transferring to a partner university, University of Otago in February 2017. Around 2 years back on September 2014, I joined IMU as a freshman pharmacy student with full of excitement and enthusiasm upon finishing my A-levels. I know many of us could relate when I say we were proud during the White Coat Ceremony with our peers as we managed to get into one of Malaysia’s top medical universities. Another unforgettable moment was when I was selected to lead my batch of pharmacy students into the Pharmacist Oath (pledge of professionalism) & code of conduct as well as the presentation of Mortar & Pestle by the Dean, School of Pharmacy. R2 Why pharmacy you might ask? Among all health sciences, pharmacy is a field which has endless prospects, versatile and has much advancement in the future of healthcare. I am passionate on how fast pharmacy is evolving and there are no limitations on the specific area of field to focus on. Pharmacy has many branches which provide many career opportunities. You could either work in a clinical, hospital and community-based pharmacy or pharmaceutical industries manufacturing medicines and oral products as well as opportunities to own your own business. If you’re passionate about the future of pharmacy, there’s always the research field which makes way for endless possibilities of drug/disease research in the development and advancement of healthcare. Studying pharmacy particularly in IMU is very rewarding in the sense of learning to be independent, having a different perspective/outlook on life, able to cope in stressful situations, thinking out of the box, self-development and most importantly, being professional in every aspect. Besides lectures, tutorials and workshops, IMU has unique teaching methods such as having Problem Based Learning (PBL) using small group discussions, industrial/clinical visits, having fun practical sessions and Pharmacy Skill Development (PSD) using simulated patients from 1st year itself. This actually trains us to think critically, able to communicate confidently and work together as a team, learning how to find valuable facts/information from reliable resources without depending on anyone and having a mutual understanding among lecturers and students without barriers. In the long run, this is effective as it develops our soft skills as well as having a positive transformation from within and learning to make an impeccable impression when dealing with patients and other healthcare professionals.


If one may ask, “Describe how’s a typical day as a pharmacy student?” My answer is simple, it’s challenging like all other courses yet rewarding in the long term. There are days when there are non-stop classes from 8am-6pm as well as days when it’s much more relaxed. However by the end of a long day, nothing beats a good ‘Mamak’ session just right opposite the university with your friends while having a good time. It’s all about time management and setting up priorities and still being able to have a social life. Besides that, if you’re bored from studying and want to take a break, there’s always something fun going on to keep the university vibrant such as activities/food sales organised by various clubs & societies as well as motivational/representative speakers giving talks organised by the University. R7 Speaking of clubs, there’s a wide variety of extra-curricular activities that IMU offers. I was the treasurer of IMU Indian Cultural Society and Sri Lankan Cultural Society where we carried out fun and diverse cultural activities such as flash mobs, Holi festival, movie nights, food sales, providing of free food for orphanages and organising one of IMU’s biggest event of the year “Diwali Week”. I was also one of the English Ambassadors of IMU whereby we actively participated in promoting speaking English throughout IMU as IMU is an English Speaking Campus. Besides that, I was also a part of the organising committee of an orientation event for juniors whereby I was the game master as well as the orientation officer leader. R4 I also provided voluntary service in blood donation drive as well as a volunteer in a senior’s research project. On the other hand, I was one of the few people who represented IMU to participate in the “10th National Gathering of Pharmacy Students (NoGAPS)” organised by Malaysian Pharmacy Student’ Association (MyPSA) at AIMST University in 2015 whereby pharmacy students from universities all over Malaysia gathered together with the deans amd top people from the pharmaceutical line in a 5-day symposium. All these events/clubs that I’ve actively participated in have definitely built me into an all-rounder person as well as instilling leadership qualities in me. In the process I have also met many students/lecturers from various faculties as well as international students and am able to work with them in unity, without boundaries as a team in a professional manner as well as exchange our views on the current and future global prospects in healthcare. This is important and useful later on in the real world as we would be dealing with all sorts of people of different characters and personalities. IMU lecturers have definitely played a vital role in my life. My interactions with them are strong as they’ve always been there to guide me throughout my journey in IMU and there’s so much one could learn from them. I have an amazing mentor who is my source of inspiration and also my motivator. During the 6 months break while waiting for my Otago application, these lecturers have been helpful in finding a place for me to intern, networking, advising on the importance of publications and educating me on life after a basic pharmacy degree (Masters, PhD, research, etc.). I’m forever grateful for that. I would like to take this opportunity to thank these lecturers starting from Mr Rohit (my mentor), Dr Nagashekhara, Dr Anil, Ms Jhamunaa and all the lecturers who have moulded me into the person I am today.

I have many memorable events in IMU and one memory in particular which I would forever cherish is probably my last day at IMU after a hell-breaking Semester 4 examination. It was memorable to me because at that point of time I felt a huge relief, satisfaction and proud of how far I’ve progressed looking back from my very first day in IMU. I would also cherish the wonderful support and motivation I’ve received from my beloved friends and all our effective study groups and role play sessions.

To me, one of the main benefits of studying in IMU is the ability to transfer to their wide variety of linked prestigious partner universities from around the world. The reason I chose to transfer to University of Otago in particular is because it’s the “Cradle of Research” as it has 150 years worth of research collection. I’ve always find research very fascinating and would definitely want to pursue my career into clinical and industrial research. I’m determined and I believe that by taking this step with a leap of faith, I can fulfil my goals and ambition in Otago. R8 Lastly, my advice for the juniors or anyone in IMU is to make the best use of their time. As youth, this is the time where we build ourselves and discover our true potential in becoming a global citizen. Make use of your time by volunteering or working in a field related to your job scope. Build your resume with experiences from now onwards and don’t be afraid to take risks and grab opportunities. Don’t study just for exams but for the future of your job scope and learn with passion. Learn to be able to write professionally and be brave enough to face any challenges which come in your path. The real world out there is very competitive, so always be a few steps ahead of the rest. The most important of all, make good use of your lecturers and mentors. They serve as an inspiration and excellent role models with their impeccable qualifications and experiences. Have a good relationship/friendship with them without barriers and there’s so much you can learn and achieve in the future. Connect with your lecturers and peers on social media such as LinkedIn and keep yourself updated with the latest news in healthcare as well as the future of your job scope.

“Every risk is worth taking as long as it’s for a good cause, and contributes to a good life”- Richard Branson

R9 So what have I been doing during my break so far? I’m now currently working as a stroke research assistant for a PhD candidate under Dr Joyce at Neurology Department of KL government hospital as well as volunteering as a dispensary pharmacist in a free welfare clinic under Kelana Jaya Rotary Club. I’m also currently working on my very first publication before leaving for Otago. All these opportunities have been a wonderful experience to me as it helped to broaden my views on pharmacy and the advancement of the job scope in clinical/industrial research in the future. When I started working under clinical research and dispensary sector, I can say that I have a whole new perspective on pharmacy compared to my views when I’m just a student. I do enjoy what I’m doing at the moment and I believe all these experiences would indeed be useful when I graduate. Although I’m just a 3rd year pharmacy student, I do have so many plans for the future of pharmacy and hopefully I can contribute my interest, knowledge and views on both clinical/industrial research and make my dreams come true!

My motto in life: “As a pharmacist, I believe in always being professional and ethical as well as equipping myself with the latest knowledge in healthcare and be up-to-date with the current global status in every aspect. I Strive Towards A Professional Pharmaceutical Excellence.”

Comments from Mentor and Lecturers Being a mentor of Mr Rohen Jayakumar, I enjoyed my role as a mentor. I observed that he is very insightful and inspirational for peers. He never give up and always work towards a goal. I still remember the White Coat Ceremony when Rohen had accepted to read pledge for cohort. I asked him, Are you comfortable? with a little smile he responded me sir, if I don’t know about the assigned job, I love to accept and then learn. Rohen, continue your leadership, I personally feel that the pharmacy profession needs more leaders. – Rohit Kumar Verma R6 I know Rohen Jayakumar from Semester 1, when he volunteered to lead the students of his cohort to White Coat Ceremony. He has good communication skills, which I observed during many interactions with him and has all the qualities of being a leader. He is enthusiastic and willing to help needy people which demonstrates his character. I wish all the best for his studies in University of Otago and career. – Dr Anil Tumkur Related Articles: Instilling Professionalism in Graduating Pharmacy Students

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