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My Life as a PhD Student and Academic During the Covid-19 Pandemic

12 Oct 2021

Oh my! Movement Control Order (MCO) has further extended. This phenomenon has stricken everyone for the past two years and now, most people have somehow embraced the need to change and adapt to the unpredictable changes happening each day. I had begun to enter my last stage of PhD studies during the first announcement of lockdown in March 2020. Thank God I have already completed my data collection by that time and have started on the chapters write-up. Looking back, I was fortunate that the journey of my studies had gone on smoothly with little ups and downs as it is not easy to take on the role as a part-time student while working full-time as a lecturer cum Programme Director at the International Medical University (IMU). IMU is a well-known private medical university in Malaysia that provide medical and health sciences programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate studies and this is where I continue to grow my academic career in nursing. Many of the people whom I met at the University are professional and have vast expertise in research and in their profession. In fact, it was the IMU culture which has added value for me to further advance my studies while upholding my nursing profession. ` The pandemic has brought a huge impact in teaching and learning worldwide and IMU was not spared from this impact. There are so many changes to prepare and to execute in ensuring teaching and learning activities are continuing without compromising its effectiveness. We turn lectures to online delivery mode using various technology tools in a short period of time. The amount of stress which stems from work/family/studies in addition to MCO restriction of working from home is undeniable. There are times that I feel depressed. I even have thought of quitting my job. I also fractured my toe few days before my viva voce for PhD. But I learn to remain positive in spite of all these challenges. The philosophy I believe in me that “Nothing is impossible to a willing heart” by Abraham Lincoln guides me through in all aspects of my life. I am also blessed with the unconditional support and understanding from my beloved family, friends, colleagues, superior and research supervisor. I am very thankful to my ex-colleague, Yee Bit Lian who inspired me to go extra mile in research publication. The encouragement from peers is invaluable. The good things I gained during the lockdown period are not to a lesser extent.

Some of my academic achievements recently include
 –  Completion of my PhD studies
 – Winner of Best Oral Presentation in The Asia Pacific Conference on Curriculum Studies and Instructional Designing (APSSCID) 2021 International Conference
 – Research publications in Scopus journal and peer-reviewed journals
 – Appointment as reviewer of Journal of Educators Online (JEO), and International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS).

For non-academic achievement, I picked up my drawing skills during the pandemic and produced several art pieces in water colour and acrylic, re-discovering my talent and interest in art since I last held my brush more than 10 years ago. Drawing is a therapeutic way for me to feel good about myself and I’m satisfied with the work I do. Another point I learnt was that everyone has the potential to unlock himself/herself. We need to be resilient to face any obstacle and continue to do the things we love and love the things we do! Certainly, learning is never ending. I will strive to soar higher in tandem with the IMU core values and standard. Looking forward, I hope to contribute more to nursing education and be a role model for young nurses to uphold their profession. Written by Dr Chang Woan Ching, Lecturer/Programme Director of Bachelor of Nursing Science (Hons) Post Registration Programme, Nursing Division, IMU.

Article was also published in:
5 November 2021 IHH Healthcare: Our Stories Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

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