Not in gainful employment

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Click here for the full article.
It is not shocking. I indeed predicted it.

Every year, thousands of top scorers throughout the nation are vying for a career in medicine. But do they really has what it takes to become a good doctor? I still believe there are flaws that need to be addressed and look into promptly in the process of selection in order to select only the ones with the passion.

By the year 2015, the amount of doctors is going to be one-fold of the amount of doctors today. By then, we would be begging to get hired. It might sound ridiculous, but we might ended up fighting with the nurses just to draw a patient's blood.

For those who are interested to have medicine as their life long career:

If you are a money seeker, fortune hunger kind of person. I would suggest you to leave this journey immediately before you realize that you have made the biggest mistake in your life once you reach the age of 40. This is because there are no doctors who became a millionaire by juggling his time between on calls, assisting deliveries during the wee hours of the morning, struggling to open his eyes after a continuous 36 hours of duty.

If you are looking for job security and employment upon graduation. I suggest that you join the uniform forces for eg the military or the police forces. They need you badly. Based on the news report above, medicine is no longer a prestigious or a profitable career.

Even in the first year itself I realized that if you want to excel in medicine, you need to be grounded. Long hours of mugging, memorizing is inevitable. Trust me, it is sometimes frustrating and totally unrewarding.

Since the competition is so immense right now, I have no choice but to agree with the fact that: Only the fittest survive.

A mentor

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I've got my white coat, Now what do I need?

Professionalism is utmost important to me. Because I know, the first impression that I will portray in front of the patient or during any medically related occasion is crucial in reflecting my competency as a future medical practitioner. I will usually spend significant amount of time in front of the mirror, looking at myself, looking for any flaws that could not be seen public for example my nostril hair that seems to gro
w ridiculously fast. Not to say that I fertilize them. Well this post is not about my narcissism or my self absorption, instead it is about the need to have a mentor, especially in the medical field.

I put on my tie, adjusting the length so that it is proportional to my height and of course making sure that the knot is not too big ( personal preference). Finally, I put on my tie pin and there you have it. A young, not so good looking but decent doctor to be in the making. Thinking of that, I reminisce all the rigorous training I've had, telling myself that I did well, above average I presume. In the process of congratulating myself, I never bother to stop and think about all the people that made it possible.

There are people like my parents, teachers and doctors that I've spoke to. They are the ones that make me try and try even harder. I'
ve passed year 1 with my sanity intact. I think that's my biggest achievement so far. Forget about UPSR,PMR and SPM or even college. Living as a SPM or college top student is never close to live a life as a medical student and the worst news is. Living as a medical student itself is still far fetched from being a house officer or a practicing physician. All these mentors have made a difference in my life. From now on, whenever I put on my white coat proudly, I promise I will think of them. They will be symbolically there, adjusting my white coat, making sure that it fits and I look good in it.

If you are lucky, you'll have multiple mentors. But for me in this medical arena. I have one.

Life is complicated and good mentors usually have some battle scars. They like to advice and more importantly they know how to listen and bring out the best of you.

I hereby introduce you to my mentor, Associate Prof Dr Kelvin Lim. Well, I don't really think that he is aware that I admire him so much as we did not go through the ritual ceremony that is required when a disciple finally found a long awaited master as portrayed in most chinese movies.

His qualification:
MBBS (Newcastle) FRCS (Edinburgh) BDS (London) LDSRCS (England) AMM Consultant Maxillofacial and Facial Reconstructive Surgeon,Gleneagles Intan Medical Centre

I would have to admit that it was his awesome qualifications that impressed me initially. However, as time passes by, I found out that he is not merely a doctor to me. He is somebody that provides advice and counsel hoping that you could make good choices in life. He is undoubtedly good at what he did and is interested in passing it down to the next generation. The passion in medicine and teaching that he possesses is overwhelming, he is generous and terrifically smart. He was once a dental surgeon before he decided that medicine is truly his calling and thus making a bold decision in venturing into medicine hence find himself in agony for another 5 years. I know, the best doctors are those who are keen on the vocation, not those who are in it for reason that they do not seem to understand. Only with the right attitude and mindset, you will come out as a respectable healer. Those who does not have it will still eventually make it through. However, they will cause heartache for themselves as well as their beloved ones.

He was the one who made me realize that at my stage, a little bit of humility would be appropriate. He was the one who exposed me to the hostile world of medicine, telling me that life has more to offer other than taking care of sick people. He was the one who proved to me, in order to be successful, it is sheer hard work and sometimes it is unrewarding. He was indeed the one that instill the drive to be successful in me. " I want to be like him, a renown surgeon" this is the thing that kept me going all these while.

Mentoring is part and parcel of medicine. It is about passing the knowledge to the next generation. Yes, you can see it in the hippocratic oath itself, reiterating the importance of making the next generation as competent as you, if not better.

That just as I have learned from those who preceded me,
so will I instruct those who follow me in the science and the art of medicine.

Isn't it good to have some one that you look up to? Telling yourself that you want to be like him/her someday? Cultivate this relationship, and you will find yourself going the extra miles although you never thought you could do it.

Of Success and Celebrations

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I realised that success is not merely being able to tick off all the resolutions that you've made at the beginning of the year. It is about touching lives and making changes for the better. Christmas is coming. This festival is not merely about commercialised Santa and Christmas trees, It is about the celebration of love. Let's take a moment to remember those who are alone out there. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best Wishes from me.

Of Medicine

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In medicine, as in life, there are ordinary relationships as well as extraordinary ones. Extraordinary ones teach us about ourselves, and connect us deeply to other people, providing ample space for us to grow and to mature. They make a difference as they remind us of each other's humanity. It seems to me that the relationship between Salai , me and the fellow refugees was extraordinary.

Salai was the leader of the student activists back in Myanmar. He was the one who believes that he, as the young generation of Myanmar could make a change by participating in direct actions to make changes in the government and the social conditions of his country. Unfortunately, his activities were tracked down by the Myanmar military, forcing him to make a drastic decision- to leave his country and to abandon his family.

Student activists were hunted by the government officials. They were captured, tortured. Salai, a law student managed to crossed the boarder, and eventually ended up in Kuala Lumpur, a city that is different from his hometown, living in despair, hopes and dreams were vanished. Deep down in his heart, he know he could not fulfil his dream of becoming a lawyer. What he can do now is to survive.

I had lunch with him the other day. We went to a not-so-fancy restaurant near the clinic to dine in. We were chatting about the political predicaments in Myanmar most of the time. Through his eyes, I can see the hardships that he is facing. A salary of 500 per month is just sufficient to keep him alive. The fear of being captured by RELA officers haunts him. The refugees deal with human traffickers at the boarder very often. Senior citizens were killed, girls were either raped or forced into prostitution, men were beaten up brutally. They begged for their undervalued life. They begged for survival.

The chances of getting an UN card is extremely difficult. The standards and the application process that one has to go through in order to be registered as a legal refugee is stringent and rigorous. Once they are registered, they are entitled for a 50% discount for health care in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, If you are well established and rich, girls will come to you.
In the refugee community, If you have a UNHCR card ( United Nation Refugee Agency), girls will come to you.

Irony isn't it?
"Calvin, you are very lucky to be able to stay with your family" he uttered.
"Yes I know, I count my blessings everyday." I winked at him.

When these kind of words hit me. I was too lost for words. In life, you need people to wake you up and make you realise of the facts and truths of life. Words from Salai were truly an eye opening. It made me realise that a little bit of humility and appreciation is appropriate in life. My goal in life is to become a world renown surgeon and his, is apparantly to survive. The incongruity is obvious.

Not everybody can go to university like Salai back in Myanmar. Not everybody has the chance and opportunity to be literated. Even for people in Myanmar, they know that education is the only way they could lead a better life in the future. Due to the lack of education among the people, deadly diseases like AIDS/HIV is common among the refugees. It is very hard to pin point the prevalence of AIDS /HIV among the community, but It seems that It is on the rise.

I am always struck by how much is medical condition is also a social condition. For those on anti-retro viral treatment, daily rituals include punctuating each day with pill taking and of course appointments with the doctor monthly.

For those who are not aware that they are infected with the virus, they contribute to the spread of the epidemic in such a way that they are not aware of. This is where the health care providers come into picture. Contact tracings are done extensively, counsellings are done, to salvage as much as they could. Yet, we could not ignore the fact that people are dying everywhere, especially in the rural areas where accessibility to health care remains a problem. People like the refugees are isolated from information that might have could save them. Even when they have to information, are they able to convert those valuable information into treatment or prevention?

I don't know.

I spoke to a man who had a wonderful homogeneous relationship for 10 years. He was diagnosed to have HIV. And yet, he doesn't seems to be worried. Denial? I suppose so.

One advantage of being in medicine is that you realise It is indeed a crazy crazy world out there. You see more than others. Medicine is not a course, It is a calling. And deciding to become a doctor means devoting your life in helping the sick and underprivileged ones. As a doctor, you are determining the fate of your patient. I do believe, because I've seen it in my own life, when love and compassion is shared with a patient, the patient can see a world bigger than the disease itself. And thus they can summon the will to live in the world that they see.
Salai wrote a poem that seems to reflect the inner turmoil he and most persons in his situation feel on an almost daily basis. Enjoy my friends, this is not something that you read everyday, appreciate it and put yourself in their shoes.
Salai ZT Lian is an ethnic Chin from Burma who seeks justice and freedom for his people. The Chin are 90% Christian and they suffer persecution in the hands of the Burma army.

There will be enemies:
Those who force my loved ones to go the wrong way,
Those who treat my loved ones carelessly,
Those who cause my loved ones to cry with anger
Those who insult my loved ones' dignity, and
Those who destroy my loved ones' dreams.
There will be friends:
Those who take care of my loved ones kindly,
Those who help my loved ones in sad and unhappy times,
Those who make my loved ones smile after crying
Those who uplift my loved ones' dignity, andThose who encourage my loved ones to dream sweetly.
There will be my loved ones:
Those who live selflessly,
Those who sacrifice life for right and justice,
Those who sympathize with the poor and disabled,
Those ready to help the troubled, and
Those who create an environment for people to dream sweetly.

On Vacation

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Will be on a short hiatus since I am off to Hong Kong for a holiday. Lazing around and doing nothing at home is certainly not my type of tea. I miss the patients, I miss the refugees. Well, I guess spending time with my family is the least I could do as an obedient son.

That's all for now, will be back 5 days later for more updates. Till then, happy holidays and best wishes from me.