Vanessa Liew Hui Shan started her scholarly journey at the International Medical University (IMU) by joining its Foundation in Science (FIS) programme back in 2014. Subsequently, she joined the pharmacy programme at the same university and graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) after four years of hard work in 2019. She then decided to venture into the Provisional Registered Pharmacist (PRP) liberalised R&D Academia track while pursuing her Master by Research postgraduate programme in IMU. Vanessa shares her story on her IMU journey here. Many have asked me why I decided to study IMU’s Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) in the first place? To be honest, without a doubt, IMU has the reputation as the most established private medical and health sciences university in Malaysia. That’s the primary reason that I joined the institution at the beginning, and it has been a wonderful life-changing journey. I truly appreciate that the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) programme allows the students to have an excellent integration of both theories (lectures) and practical (hands-on) sessions in every semester so that we can learn, apply and brush up our knowledge and skills as a pharmacist. Apart from that, there was also a strong emphasis in the curriculum to develop our critical thinking and soft skills. I particularly like the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) sessions whereby students were divided into small groups to discuss clinical cases with the lecturers. I still remember vividly that my course mates and I will always have self-group practice sessions just before the OSCE sessions whereby we will brainstorm the possible questions to ask, medications to suggest and points to ponder. The four-year journey was tough and hectic yet memorable and full of joy.
|Some Advice to Share|
|There is something that I would like to share to you in which I will always remind myself that, “no matter how harsh the terrain of your road becomes, just bear in mind that you will pull through and be transformed for the better because of it.”|
As a student, exams and deadlines stress is inevitable. However, it is important to continuously strive for a good study-life balance. I am glad that I managed to cope with the study stress through my active participation in the various activities organised by IMU such as the annual IMU Cup and Chariofare.
I participated in netball, darts competitions and successfully helped my sport house to gain winning marks. It was such an amazing experience whereby we as a team successfully won back-to-back champion title for darts competition in 2017-2018. The hard work in practising for our competitions for countless days finally paid off. Looking back, IMU certainly provided us with a good platform for a well-rounded student life.
|My Research Attachment in France|
|Being chosen to be a member of Dr Low May Lee’s research team during my final year project has allowed me to explore and gain fruitful experiences. I was so honoured to be given the golden opportunity to visit and to complete my mobility research project at École Normale Supérieure (ENS), Paris, one of the most prestigious higher educational institutions in France. This research attachment offered me the chance to learn more about bioinorganic chemistry research, to widen my knowledge and to enhance my experimental techniques while working in a conducive research environment. I really enjoyed meeting people from all over the world and experiencing the cultural and educational differences between France and Malaysia.|
Some have asked me why do I choose to undergo my PRP training in IMU instead of in a hospital or community pharmacy? My interest towards research has grown so much during my BPharm final year project. Once I graduated, I then had to decide on which journey to venture into, towards the next chapter of my life.
While I was doing that, I met my final year project supervisor, Dr Low, and she asked me to consider enrolling myself into the IMU Master by research programme – MSc in Medical and Health Sciences and work on a new project on photodynamic therapy funded by IMU Pancreatic Cancer Challenge Grant, and, at the same time, do the PRP under R&D Academic track. After the discussion with Dr Low, I was so excited and interested to work on this multidisciplinary research project in collaboration with University Malaya, ENS and Chimie ParisTech. Without a second thought, I said yes and begun my PRP journey with my main preceptor, A/Prof Mohd. Zulkefeli Mat Jusoh (Dean, School of Pharmacy) and my supervisor Dr Low. I started my PRP journey for research module within nine months as per criteria set by Pharmacy Board of Malaysia. With the occurrence of COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO), I had no choice but to delay my compulsory three months clinical module attachment at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
|My Clinical Module Attachment at Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur|
|After the announcement of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), Pantai Hospital resumed the acceptance of PRP and I officially started my training in September 2020. It was daunting to imagine that one must recall and apply everything learnt for the past four years in these three months. I must say it is a very challenging path that I have chosen but I have no regrets as I was able to learn, recall and re-apply the clinical knowledge that I have learnt, putting them to good use. During the hospital attachment, I have worked under the guidance of clinical pharmacist, Jordy Wong Der Yuan, Wong Peng Peng and Chan Li Peng for my clinical ward attachment as well as pharmacists, Huong Yu Seng, Toh Yong Xin and Ong Hui Min for my inpatient and outpatient pharmacy attachment. They greatly inspired me as a pharmacist, and I am very much thankful for their guidance and support throughout my time at Pantai Hospital.|
My past one-year PRP training journey was not easy. It was a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs however, it certainly made me a better pharmacist, researcher and person. I believe that failures are stepping stones to success. I have my fair share of sad and stressful days in which I will cry or exercise to destress myself. Research will involve numerous repetitions to optimise the experimental procedures. It was not an easy task, but I am glad with the ‘Never give up’ spirit that I learnt from the movie ‘Mission Impossible’, I was able to brave through it and made good progress in my project. I am also delighted to be able to publish a review paper in the peer-reviewed journal Molecules. To be the pioneer BPharm alumni FRP under research and development (R&D) academia track, I am thankful to my preceptor (A/Prof Mohd. Zulkefeli Mat Jusoh), my main supervisor (Dr Low May Lee), co-supervisors (Dr Mai Chun Wai, Dr Thiagarajan Madheswaran and A/Prof Kiew Lik Voon), collaborators (Dr Gilles Gasser and Dr Nicolas Delsuc), family and friends who have always supported me in every way they could. On the whole, studying at IMU has been an enriching journey filled with excitement, discovery, achievements and prospects. I can’t believe how much I have grown over the years, both professionally and personally. IMU has shaped me into the person that I am today, allowing me to achieve my dreams and I am always proud to be a part of IMU. Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Written by Vanessa Liew Hui Shan RPh Pharmacy Alumna, MSc in Medical and Health Sciences student and Fully Registered Pharmacist under R&D Academia track