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Top Student Achieves his Dream to be a Medical Doctor

17 Jul 2018

My dream to become a doctor started when I was in primary school during my Bahasa Malaysia oral examination. I was thrown a question by my fellow classmate, “What do you want to become when you grow up?”. As a 9-year-old student, at that time, I was not prepared to answer that kind of question. But I confidently replied “I want to become a doctor.” It might sound spontaneous but deep down, there are stories behind it Everyone has their own reason why they choose to become a doctor. For me, I attributed it to my two late grandfathers who both passed away due to heart attack when I was still in primary school. My family used to go to our hometown in Kajang every week to visit my paternal grandparents. My sisters and I would sit and watch my late grandfather take and swallow his pills. But when we lost both of them, I came to realise on the importance of health and the care my parents need when they grow old. My uncle, who is a neurologist and physician at KPJ Damansara would always look after the health of my grandparents. He would advise and monitor their medications meanwhile my father would bring them to the hospital. My mother also took her time off and brought our late grandmother to the hospital in Kuantan when she was not feeling well before she passed away in her sleep last year. Looking at how my parents put all their efforts to care for our grandparents had touched my heart and sooner it would be my responsibility as their only son to take a good care of them too in the future. Hence, I decided to take up medicine so that I would not only be able to contribute to my family, but also the people who need good medical care. This is the principle I have held throughout my journey to become a doctor. Did you face any challenges when you wanted to study medicine and during your studies? The journey to study medicine is never an easy feat. You have to start planning your career even before you sit for SPM examination. I did doubt myself whether I could carry the science subjects because they require a strong memory to remember all the scientific terms and biological processes which I was lacking. However, it did not break my spirits to continue learning and improvising the ways of studying science subjects. I also received good support from my teachers and friends who had helped me with my studies. Throughout my journey studying medicine in IMU, there have been moments where I felt down and stressed out because of the pressure from assignments, examinations and high expectations from all the lecturers for IMU students. Whenever I encountered stressful situations especially during examination weeks, I would sit back, pray to Allah and ask for prayers from my parents to help me sit through examinations with calmness and ease. I always remember a verse from Al-Quran shared by one of teachers, Ms Aniza, “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” (Surah Al-Baqarah: Verse 286). I would always hold to this verse to remind me that Allah would never place us in a difficult situation that we cannot handle. How did you feel when you were informed that you are an award winner? When I was announced as the recipient for the Dr John Joseph Bosco Memorial Gold Award by our exam coordinator, Dr Kavitha, I was surprised and had goosebumps. It felt surreal because never had I thought to receive such prestigious award throughout my entire course of studies. I knew that all my hard work has finally paid off and there was definitely a moment of big relief. I immediately called my parents to share with them this great news and they were excited as well. Nevertheless, graduating from university is just the beginning of another journey in my life. This award serves as a reminder for me to always work harder and improve myself in the future.

Awards won at 30 June 2018 Convocation
Dr John Joseph Bosco Memorial Gold Medal Professor Guan Chong Book Prize in Surgery

Who is the source of your inspiration? My parents and family have always been my source of inspiration since the beginning. They have always supported me and put their faith in me to pursue medicine. Their life journey from childhood to what they have become today has always motivated me in every way. They work day and night to support our family and make sure their children get good education. I might not be able to pay them back but I would definitely try to achieve the best in my studies and make them proud. Apart from that, IMU lecturers played an important role in shaping us to become competent and credible doctors. I am amazed and impressed by their work experience and determination to improve the landscape of our healthcare system during the early days of Malaysia as well as the contributions that they had given to the community before joining IMU. Some of them are still active in the humanitarian work and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) helping the people in need either locally or at the international level despite having busy schedule. I hope I could also be part of the altruistic activities in the future and provide my services to the people. What is your motivation to achieve success in your studies consistently? To be successful in life, one must learn from mistakes and to learn from mistakes, one must not be afraid to give a try. Success is a result on ongoing failures and mistakes. If you make mistakes, you will remember it for the rest of your life. I have been holding to this principle to help me achieve success, especially when it comes to studying medicine. I participated actively in ward rounds and classes, asked for feedback from my lecturers and discussed clinical cases with my friends.

If asked, who is my biggest motivation, I would definitely say my patients. As I talked and examined patients, I would always learn something new every day. They taught me about their diseases in the simplest way a person could understand and most importantly the value of care and compassion which I could never get from anywhere else. Often their concerns are not only about getting better, but how the disease would impact their life once they get home. I’m always touched by their life stories and struggles that they have to endure every day. They helped me stay motivated and determined all the time to ensure that I reach my goal to become a doctor.

How do you manage to have a balance in your studies and other activities?  The key to have a balance in education and other activities is good time management and knowing how to set your priority right. I always make sure that I can enjoy doing my favourite activities in my spare time while putting studies as a top priority. I would never procrastinate on my assignments and homework. After class, I would spend time exercising in the gym, listening to music and playing the piano to help relieve stress and encourage my brain to be more creative. In the weekends, I would go back to my hometown in Kajang so that I could spend time with my family. I also took part actively in debate, both in Malay and English. My most memorable moment in debate was when my Griffin house team emerged as the champion for debate competition in IMU Cup 2014. I believe debating helps improve critical thinking and communication skills, which are essentially needed in my challenging medical profession as a doctor.

What are your future plans? Throughout my clinical years, I have developed my passion and interest in surgery because I really admire their work ethics, self-discipline, dexterity and the rewarding experience they get once their patients are recovered from surgeries. At the moment, I’m in the midst of preparing myself for the membership of Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) examination so that I could sit for the test during my housemanship training. Once I completed my housemanship training after two years, my plan would be to further my studies in surgical specialty and hopefully with the MRCS qualification, I could enrol in the master programme in any local or international universities. My dream career is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon. I had the opportunity to meet some of the notable cardiothoracic surgeons such as Dato Hamdan, Mr Hamzah and Mr Arif during my 4-week elective posting at the Cardiothoracic Department in Hospital Serdang. They shared with me the challenges of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon and I also got to observe and assist some of surgeries in the operating theatre. As I’m reaching my goal to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, I also hope to contribute actively in the public health for the betterment of Malaysian healthcare system. Your advice to those who want to study medicine? If you are passionate and want to take up medicine, then go for it. Nothing comes easy in life and hence always anticipate difficulties as you embark on the journey in medicine. But do not ever give up your passion and learn to embrace challenges because these will only make you become a better and stronger person. Once you are in this journey, always remember to keep yourself humble at all times and be respectful towards others. If you be nice to people, they will pray for your success and cheer you up. Written by IMU medical alumnus, Muhammad Anwar bin Azrin. Related article: IMU Celebrates Convocation Ceremony and the Installation of its Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor

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