November 2013 – Malaysian pharmacy student, Yip Lin Fong, graduated with a distinction (equivalent to First Class) in her Pharmacy degree from University of Otago. Lin Fong joined the International Medical University (IMU) in July 2009 and studied the first two years of her pharmacy degree at the University. She then transferred to University of Otago in February 2012 to complete her degree in pharmacy, the first student to enter this pathway.
Describing her experience at the University of Otago, Lin Fong said, “It is definitely an eye-opening experience to encounter Western learning environment and lifestyle. The teaching environment in Otago is more casual. Unlike Asian societies, the relationship between lecturers and students is “flatter” or less hierarchical. The campus and the whole of Dunedin are very student-friendly which allowed me to settle down quite well in a short period of time. Not forgetting the added bonus of being able to study in one of the world’s most beautiful university!” Lin Fong believes that the first two years of her degree in IMU has given her the opportunity to learn and develop lots of soft skills. During this time, she enjoyed the case studies in Problem-Based Learning (PBL) sessions and tutorials as they allowed her to think deep and wide, corresponding to the Western style of learning. The clinical sessions in the Clinical Skills Unit (CSU) enabled her to develop communication skills not only with patients but also with other healthcare professionals. She also learnt the importance and skills to overcome challenges under a limited time frame, a crucial component when solving problems in real life situations.
“I was involved in a research about experiences of international pharmacy student studying in Otago as a full year paper in Year 4. It was very interesting to interview international students and explore how they feel about their identity and life in Otago. I have learnt a lot from it”, added Lin Fong, who intends to learn as much as possible in all aspects of clinical and community pharmacy practice and in the future, to take part in missions with Pharmacists Without Borders (PSF) or be part of a team with Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Lin Fong’s advice to students who intends to study pharmacy would be “Do not let the perception of pharmacists being “drug distributors” or businessmen to hinder you from doing greater things. There are many different aspects of pharmacy that you can explore. Go beyond your limits, explore your potentials and do great things for the patients and community!”