Jun 30 2019

The road to becoming a doctor is a long one; paved with ambition, discipline, and dedication from the get-go. However, perhaps above all, it begins with the right drive. On top of academic excellence, a medical student’s motivation in pursuing a career in medicine is paramount. For 86 medical students, the first leg of their journey in medicine ended on Sunday, as RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus (RUMC) held its first conferring ceremony at the Bayview Beach Resort in Penang.

Established in 1996 as Penang Medical College, RUMC is the first Irish Foreign University Branch Campus (FUBC) in Malaysia. An RUMC student’s undergraduate journey is a transnational one; beginning in Dublin, Ireland where they undertake two-and-a-half year’s pre-clinical study at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) or University College Dublin (UCD), two world-renowned medical universities. They then return to Penang, Malaysia for a two-and-a-half year’s clinical training at Penang General Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital, and Taiping Hospital.

With this year’s cohort, the number of RUMC graduates exceed 1,700. Conferred with an MB BCh BAO degree by the National University of Ireland and equipped with the knowledge of the Malaysian healthcare system thanks to the programme’s immersive clinical training, these young doctors are ready to take on their two-year Housemanship stint.

A hallmark of RUMC’s quality in producing academically excellent and high performing doctors is exemplified by the crème de la crème of each cohort of students. Amongst this year’s graduates are prize winners Vivien Tan Chern Yong, Oloruntunmike Otitolola Adetona, Yong Ji Fung, Siti Diana Binti Mohd Daniel Jansz, Jason Teoh, Jonathan Lim Hsien Wei, Divya Gautam, and Muhammad Saifullah Bin Abdul Annuar.

Student Valedictorian, Vivien Tan, was inspired to pursue a career in medicine when she witnessed a horrific road accident and had the urge to help if only she had known how to. It was at that moment she realised that she could make a difference. Tan, who won first place in the Final Examination and in the subjects of Medicine, Surgery, and Obstetrics & Gynaecology advised aspiring doctors: “Passion is the most important element in this field. Without it, one can hardly survive the five long years of undertaking a medical degree let alone the hard work that lies ahead. However, if you have the drive to help people, you will find studying medicine very enjoyable”.

Bagging the award for first place in Paediatrics and Psychiatry is Oloruntunmike Otitolola from Nigeria who was inspired to pursue medicine after seeing how weak and frail patients can become from terminal illness, and the state of her home country’s healthcare system, where people die from various preventable causes. “In the long term, I plan to get involved in health policy making, towards advancing healthcare systems of developing countries. For now, I plan to expand my horizons by taking up opportunities in Ireland or the UK,” said the young doctor.

Jason Teoh, who won first place in Family Medicine, was inspired as a child when his uncle was diagnosed with triple vessels disease and the doctor at the time was not able to offer any treatment. “I felt so helpless then and that was when I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, where I can and will do my best to help everyone who is need,” said Teoh. The freshly conferred doctor aspires to be a surgeon and hopes to specialise in cardiothoracic surgery.

For Divya Gautam, winner of this year’s Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society’s Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Book Prize, the inspiration to pursue medicine stemmed from seeing the health disparities and inequity of healthcare distribution in her home country, India. A strong advocate for women’s health, Divya is in the process of taking the USMLE and plans to apply for an OBGYN residency match. In the meantime, she will continue her work and research with the World Interdisciplinary Forum for Healthcare (WIFH).

“Starting one’s journey in medicine at RUMC is a memorable one. Not only do students reap the benefits from a best-of-both-worlds experience, but they are assured a quality education in their formative years, which is absolutely essential in the making of an outstanding doctor”, said Vice President of Academic Affairs & Registrar Professor David Whitford.

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