My ideas on how to improve medical school

I have several drafts waiting to be written, but I haven’t had the chance to actually finish what I started. Among them is this topic.

But let’s digress and tell you about my day today. Today we had mindfulness gym, it’s a sort of cognitive behavioural therapy program that teaches medical student how to relax and de-stress. I don’t want to go too much into the details, but the program was designed by Dr Phang Cheng Kar, who is a UPM medschool super senior and psychiatry lecturer. He’s one of the most radiant and positive lecturers I know. He’s fast becoming one of my favourite lecturers in UPM, especially in Psychiatry.

If I had to choose the lecturers that’s my favourite in each major posting (most other lecturers are good too! Don’t get me wrong):

  • Medicine: Dr Joseph Anthony
  • Surgery (well actually he’s an ENT specialist, but they still go to OTs, right?): Mr Yap
  • Obstetrics & Gynaecology: Prof Rafaee
  • Paediatrics: Dr Johan Aref
  • Orthopaedics: Prof Manohar

The thing they have in common is not that they’re “baik.” Sure, they come across as warm, wonderful and kind people, but they’re not passive, they’ll criticise me if I do something wrong. The main thing I particularly find endearing about them is that they have never forgotten they were medical students. It’s apparent in the way they talk to you, the way they look at you and the way the say what they think. They remember their roots, and they’re so humble that you can’t help but be ashamed of yourself. You’re encouraged to say what you think, even if you’re wrong.

I’m not saying this because I think I’m better than everyone. I’m just telling my preference for learning. I’m sure everyone has their own, and we can’t force our traits and preference to everyone. A lot of specialists, MOs and even HOs sometimes talk to us lowly medical students as if we’re lower than the faeces of cockroaches. “I hate medical students. Some more, UPM medical students. UPM is a shit medical school.” I also hear things in the form of I-was-a-much-better-medical-student-than-you variety, “Awak takkan tak tahu benda ni, saya belajar 20 tahun dulu pun saya ingat lagi?” Hell, it’s true. Not going to deny that. We’re dealing directly with lives, someone has to be strict. But along the way of ascending the hierarchy of the medical world, we forget the essence of what makes us human. That we’re all the same, and there’s nothing particularly special about any of us, not a silly postgraduate certificate, not a 34D cup, nothing really. We’re all here to love someone/something and to preoccupy ourselves with something that makes the world just a little better. That’s not to say that we must look at everything ordinarily. In fact, the opposite, we have to pay extra attention to ordinary things so that the ordinary becomes extra-ordinary. (That’s what I learnt from the Mindfulness gym today.)

In short, If I were to become a lecturer, I hope so, if my specialty someday isn’t too far out, I’ll never forget where I came from. I will never forget that I was a simple and silly medical student.

i really wanted to put a somewhat relevant picture

Another thing about medical school I’d like to change is that if I was the dean, I’d organise an elective program for medical students to reflect on who they are and the future. A semi-motivational program, and also a chance to learn who they are and how to turn their natural traits into strengths. We change our opinions all the time, even the most rigid and unimaginative among us. Who we wanted to be 4 years ago, is so different to who we are now. I wanted to be an Emergency Medicine specialist when I started out medical school. But I’m also into research, public health and clinical duties now. Now, I’m confused as to what path I should take. Lately, I’ve been reflecting more and more about my inherent essential nature and how this best translates into the best doctor I can be.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more issue about the curriculum I don’t agree with, but a debateable post about medical school curriculum calls for another post in the future. There’s the subtle racism among lecturers/students alike that I find counterintuitive. Don’t even talk to me about the Hospital Serdang issue.

Until then, that’s all. Just the two suggestions for now.

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