Of Medicine, Canoes And A Funny Language

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Leaderonomics

22-09-2013

3 min read

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Photo credit : Don Debold | Flickr

After graduating from my South Australian Matriculation (SAM) studies at Taylor’s College, I spent a long time wondering how I was going to fulfil my dream of studying medicine in a Malaysian-recognised institution.

Why medicine? It may seem clichéd, but I have always been interested in being a doctor. I suppose being part of my school’s Red Crescent Society drove my interest further. I love the adrenaline rush when we raced against time to help a victim. Later on, I realised that I wanted to be directly involved in the human healthcare industry because I wanted to do hands-on work and witness the results before my very eyes.

After many obstacles, I found myself questioning if this was the right path for me. However, while on a family trip to a famous Chinese temple in Kuching known for its accurate divination sticks, I was told that if I continued to persevere, I would eventually achieve my goal. My trust in the divination an agency that was the bridge for three medical faculties in the Czech Republic.

When I studied the conditions for eligibility, I found that they had recently decided to accept SAM students. Without hesitation, I applied and studied hard for the entrance exam. After much waiting, I was offered a place in the course of my dreams!

Now that I have been here for a few years, I am very happy and grateful for the opportunities and lessons this course has granted me. I have had the honour of dissecting the head and neck of a generous donor, practicing blood- withdrawal on my classmates, and to my personal dismay, using rabbits to measure blood pressure directly. This summer, I will also have the chance to study the healthcare system of the Czech Republic for two weeks.

Living in the Czech Republic can be a fun and interesting experience if you open yourself to accepting different people. For instance, my friends hail from all over the world. Not only do we get to learn about each other’s cultures and languages, we also have the opportunity to opine on our countries’ healthcare systems and expound upon our countries’ common health problems with our friends.

There are a number of Malaysians here as it is one of the institutions where government-sponsored students are sent to pursue medical degrees, and we meet frequently. My cooking skills have improved considerably as many Malaysian friends here are chefs in their own right. I also needed to satisfy my cravings for Malaysian food!

My faculty also offers sports and activities like canoeing, basketball, swimming, and belly dancing. The natural surroundings in this country are breathtakingly beautiful, leading me to participate in canoeing during my first year. It was during this time that I had the most encounters with Czech students. It was hilarious – we were trying to communicate to each other with my broken Czech and their minimal English. My earnest canoeing instructor, who could not speak a single word of English, mostly used international sign language to direct me!

I have compulsory practical lessons and seminars every day of the week. A plus point of studying here is that during anatomy practicals, we get to deal with plastic models as well as cadavers. This is something I am very grateful for because studying real bodies makes a lot of difference in understanding the human anatomy; it becomes the basis of our physiology and pathophysiology studies.

In the second year, as a complement to our Basis of Patient Care subject, we will be assisting with hands-on work on real patients, such as inserting a urethral catheter or performing an enema.

Our faculty also collaborates with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and each year, a selected number of students from their third year onwards have the chance to spend their summer doing a research of their interest in Mayo Clinic. As part of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a great number of research internships, summer schools, and community work opportunities are also available to those interested.

The exam system here is oral-based, and we pick our own exam dates. It is during this period that each of us goes through not just a test on our knowledge of what we have studied, but also a test of faith in our own abilities, and whether we want this enough to follow through.

So if you have the passion to pursue medicine, all the best to you! If you are ever in doubt about whether you have the right characteristics to be a doctor, medical school is probably the best time to find out what you lack and develop your skills.

Ng Mei Yee, 22, is currently pursuing a medical degree at the Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. Having discovered her passion for medicine at a young age, she often finds herself being put to the test with situations before and after entering the medical field of study.

Note: The above entry was written in 2010 for What’s After SPM?, published in 2011. This non-for-profit book project is a collaboration between Leaderonomics and a team of young Malaysians. Click here for details on the project and authors.

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