From Rap Songs, to Treating Preeclampsia: A Student Gets Personal About His Experience In Medical School

Published by Afterschool.my on Aug 29, 2022, 12:25 pm

As fancy as the title holds, there are reasons beyond the surface why Asian parents urge their children to pursue careers as doctors. From employment stability to continuous exposure in medical advancement, being a doctor allows one to experience a lifetime of career enrichment that proves to be intriguing for many.

While there's no denying that being a Doctor carries many perks, it is not to say that this is a profession for everyone. "Medicine is not your career if you are in it for the pot of gold. Healthcare financing isn't something medical students think of if it isn't clear enough on news headlines. My passion for patients' care, well-being and recovery is always at the top of my mind. Every disease studied would be wasted if one does not foresee a patient falling ill, from risk factors to clinical presentation of their illness (i.e., pain, fever, concerns), investigations and management for the patient. It makes one think twice if they should study harder so the patient recovers," says Jonathan Leong, a 4th-year MBBS student. From his clinical posting exposure, being a doctor is about putting your patients first, as everything else comes secondary. "Learning to care and express empathy is of utmost importance, alongside being a team player, a good communicator and a heart filled with curiosity. Through all that, don't forget to stay humble."

Although he ticks all the boxes of a compassionate, friendly-neighbourhood doctor you'd trust your life with, the thought of doing medicine has never crossed his mind. "I was the kid they cheered on to do engineering back in school. I pursued MBBS because of family reasons, where I spent two months in a hospital, and it changed my life. Looking into how doctors work as a team to optimise patients' care inspired me; as the saying goes, every helping hand grows a healing heart."

Having gone through an eye-opening experience, Jonathan currently pursues his new dream of becoming a medical practitioner through MAHSA University's 5-year MBBS programme, which he finds very engaging and up-to-date. "Honestly, the medical syllabus in MAHSA is excellent, and most lecturers are enthusiastic about teaching. Some even came up with a rap song for Kreb's cycle. That pretty much sums up the syllabus in year 1 and 2. As for the aid to transition from preclinical to clinical, it is a completely different ball game. Nobody in clinical school will ask you about any gene mutation or biochemical pathways like how they do in preclinical school. Unfortunately, there is no easy trick to aid your transition as it is something one has to go through. Year 3 will be a buffer time for all students."

Jonathan (back row, second from the left) poses with his fellow MBBS batchmates from MAHSA University

With MAHSA's complete line of facilities and equipment, medical students can apply their classroom learning in a hands-on environment to prepare for their practical training. For Jonathan, Early Clinical Exposure (ECE) is a crucial learning stage to survive during clinical practice. "ECE is all in the name. Your history-taking covers the chief complaint, among other aspects, using acronyms like OLDCARTS/SOCRATES. History taking and physical examination are vital in clinical school. ECE covers all the topics at least once, so thoroughly go through and appreciate all the classes. Problem Based Learning (PBL) is the closest thing a preclinical student gets to experiencing clinical school. Trigger-based case discussion is precisely the right train of thought in evaluating every case in the ward and clinics. With 5-6 different triggers, the most critical skill is coming to a proper diagnosis. Advancedly, investigation and management for the patient can be further discussed as part of the learning process."

Besides the lecturers in MAHSA practising an open-door policy that creates a conducive learning environment, Jonathan emphasised that good discussion sessions on particular topics allow students to reinforce their memory and information taught in class. He added that "medical students should wean off spoon feeding practices as clinical school is a completely different environment, where personal initiative determines how far one performs as a safe doctor."

As stimulating as the class learning sessions can be, Jonathan highlights that having a solid learning strategy outside the classroom is just as crucial for medical students to excel. "Study every night; even ONE lecture counts! It takes only 20 to 30 minutes MAXIMUM, if you’re not procrastinating. Besides that, try to make short notes of every topic learnt. It's also important to remind yourself to have fun and spend some me-time after studying hard. Give yourself 1-2 days off to reward your good efforts."

For Jonathan, filling his personal time with extracurricular activities gives him meaning rather than merely turning pages of Anatomy books 24/7. A truly active student, Jonathan joins societies (in-house, national and international), participated in ambulance dispatches during COVID-MCO 1, was an interstate medical volunteer (MRA) with the orang Asli, and was a health trainer and medical volunteer in the community (MERCY). He is currently a senior medical volunteer in a refugee clinic based in Seri Kembangan for the past two years. Besides that, Jonathan also completed an internship with a policy think tank to learn how to draft health policies for the ministry of health.

"I will never forget the patients I have treated and met throughout medical school. After months, I saw a patient again, and the patient said, ' Thank you, doctor, now I've recovered much more than before.' There was also that one time I caught a high-risk preeclampsia (hypertension in pregnancy) case in time before the patient risked seizure within the week."

Jonathan with the orang asli at a mobile clinic in MRA Perak

While serving as a medical volunteer for MERCY, taking a patient’s medical assessment 

Jonathan's medical journey is only getting started, as the rewarding feeling he derives from helping others motivates him to weather through the storms and strive to excel in this field. "Sometimes, the fear of failing my patients and their family holds a weight inside me. I often overthink and put myself in their family's shoes; what if I mistreat them, like if my family members get mistreated? These thoughts motivate me to study a few more chapters most nights." 

If a Doctorate programme piqued your curiosity, click here to learn more about MAHSA's comprehensive 5-year MBBS programme.

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