A pharmacist and entrepreneur, Tiong Chi Kai (in the photo above), started his journey towards a pharmacy degree at IMU in 2015. After two years at IMU, he took the opportunity to transfer to University of Tasmania for the completion of his degree. Here, he shares his experience at both universities and how he landed up being an entrepreneur in Malaysia.
Firstly, let me put forward my view about the pharmacy course in general. Pharmacist plays a key role in the healthcare system and for one to be a qualified and registered pharmacist, one must hold a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy (BPharm). BPharm is normally a four-year (8 Semesters) programme that prepares us not just with theoretical information but also practical experiences. This programme integrates pharmaceutical science into the practice of clinical pharmacy as well as guides the students on the journey to become a confident and competent healthcare professional who will hold patient safety and well-being as the utmost priority.
Let me now tell you why I chose IMU, Malaysia to pursue my studies. Studying pharmacy wasn’t my dream. I feel that this is a mission to serve the community better as I realised the ease for the public to approach the pharmacist in seeking medical advice on health-related issues. I chose to join IMU BPharm (Hons) programme back in 2015 as the programme at IMU offers credit transfer options to overseas partner universities (University of Tasmania, Australia and University of Otago, New Zealand). This has provided me with opportunity to explore a new culture and study environment in addition to the knowledge exchange with overseas pharmacy students.
Back in 2015, I was offered the credit transfer option with the University of Tasmania (UTAS). UTAS is in a beautiful island state of Australia, located south of the Australian mainland and is one of the pitstop to Antarctica. The representative from UTAS, Dr Li Shean Toh came over to Malaysia to brief us regarding UTAS, its course structure and tourist attractions in Tasmania.
To ensure a smooth transition to UTAS, a transition module was introduced to us at UTAS that gave me an overview about the contents and learning style and allowed us to undertake a 3-hour placement in the local pharmacy. It was quite a challenging experience for me to study abroad due to differences in culture and law and practice of pharmacy in Australia. However, the IMU BPharm (Hons) course structure in which I had spent the first two years in Malaysia, has provided me with a very strong foundation to accept these new challenges.
|My Experience Overseas|
|During my fourth-year pharmacy placement in one of the community pharmacies in Tasmania, I was fortunate to secure an internship (also known as Provisionally Registered Pharmacist (PRP) in Malaysia). My working experience during this placement had greatly convinced me to become a community pharmacist as I was inspired by the compassionate services provided by my preceptor to the community.
It was definitely a rewarding journey for me, having the opportunity to learn at the local pharmacy practice in Tasmania. Although it was very challenging to juggle between the qualification exams, an external course prepared by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) as well as work during the internship, my never-give-up spirit and perseverance had assisted me in overcoming all these challenges.
Other than that, the support provided in the workplace was sufficient for us as there were trainings provided each week to the pharmacy intern. Healthcare professionals who are working in the clinical or community setting would always work in tandem to ensure the patient’s safety and treatment efficacy. For instance, the pharmacists would contact the relevant authorities when necessary to obtain information before dispensing any medications. Undoubtedly, training to be a vaccinator is also one of the best experiences working as a pharmacist in Australia.
After 2 years of working as a pharmacist in Australia, I decided to return to my beloved country, Malaysia during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 to serve the nation. It is interesting working as a pharmacist in Malaysia due to differences in practice. Seeing the potential and growth of community pharmacy has sparked my interest to venture into one. Guidance from mentors and pharmacy owners as well as the full support from my parents give me the confidence to do so. Besides, one of the modules in BPharm does provide its students with business management skills.
Hence, these had eventually led me in the opening of my first pharmacy, GT Health Pharmacy in Eco Grandeur, Puncak Alam. There are many aspects that need to be taken into account as a pharmacist and entrepreneur, such as, managing the medication stock supply, pharmacy daily business and many more. This would be a lifelong learning journey which is very intriguing experience. Finally, my recommendation to those applying for the pharmacy programme in IMU or the partner track. The IMU BPharm (Hons) programme had helped me immensely in establishing myself as a community pharmacist. Also, the credit transfer programme gives the opportunity to an individual to experience the practicing abilities in two countries.