Friday, 10 December 2021
Saturday, 27 November 2021
Friday, 15 October 2021
I worked as a Teaching Fellow at NUMed from October 2020 to June 2021. Subsequently, I started working as a House Officer in August 2021. You may be wondering, why didn't I just keep working as a Teaching Fellow instead of becoming a House Officer?
Actually, I too wish that I could continue working as a Teaching Fellow at NUMed. After all, the Teaching Fellow job is so much easier and more interesting and it's monthly salary is just slightly lower compared to that of a House Officer. However, there are several reasons why that's not a viable option for me.
The main reason is that my Teaching Fellow contract ended in June 2021. There was no provision for an extension of the contract as NUMed offers Teaching Fellow contracts on a one-off basis only. One of the Teaching Fellows in the previous year tried to get a long-term contract after his contact ended, but he was unsuccessful in that. One of my Teaching Fellow colleagues on the 3-month contract also tried to extend his contract without success. Therefore, I didn't attempt to seek an extension of my Teaching Fellow contract.
An alternative to extending the contract would be to reapply for the Teaching Fellow post for the 2021/2022 academic year. With the teaching experience and the AFHEA qualification I gained through working as a Teaching Fellow, I would have an advantage in the application. However, the post is mainly meant for graduates from the 2016-2021 batch. The 2016-2021 batch had been quite unfortunate and I really sympathise with them.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they missed out on the opportunity to do their Student Selected Components and Electives in UK and there were a lot of disruptions and uncertainties during their Stage 5 of MBBS. I definitely want them to have the opportunity to be a Teaching Fellow. If I reapplied for the Teaching Fellow post, I would be denying someone from that batch the opportunity. Considering how competitive the application is, every single place counts. Therefore, I decided not to reapply.
Even if I could somehow get an extension of my Teaching Fellow contract, there's the fact that Teaching Fellows aren't full-fledged lecturers. NUMed Teaching Fellows are mostly involved in teaching parts of the Year 1 and 2 curriculum, with limited opportunities to teach Year 3 to 5. While the Teaching Fellow job had been very interesting and rewarding for me, it's not my plan to be a Teaching Fellow permanently. Instead, I view it as a stepping stone to gain valuable teaching experience in order to achieve greater heights in my teaching career.
My aim is to become a full-fledged lecturer who will have more teaching responsibilities. Unfortunately, there's no direct upgrade path from a Teaching Fellow to a full-fledged lecturer. To become a full-fledged medical lecturer in Malaysia, one must have full registration with the Malaysian Medical Council, which requires the completion of 2 years of housemanship. Like it or not, I have to work as a House Officer for now.
My transition from being a Teaching Fellow to being a House Officer is like going from heaven to hell. The House Officer job is really stressful with long working hours. However, my Medical Education dream motivates me to persevere with my housemanship. I must survive the hell before I can get to the higher levels of heaven.
Sunday, 26 September 2021
The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Malaysia on 21 February 2021. Soon afterwards, the Malaysian government opened the registration for Covid-19 vaccination to the public. I registered through MySejahtera on 23 February 2021. In the following months, I was waiting for a vaccination appointment. At that time, I was working as a Teaching Fellow at NUMed in Johor Bahru.
In April 2021, following reports of rare thromboembolic events caused by the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the Malaysian government decided to offer it only on an opt-in basis. Data shows that thromboembolic events occur in around 1 out of 100,000 cases. I consider that to be a very low risk and I decided that I would take the AstraZeneca vaccine if given the opportunity.
The 1st round of opt-in registration for the AstraZeneca vaccine was open on 2 May 2021 for those living in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. I couldn't register as I was in Johor Bahru. Subsequently on 26 May 2021, the 2nd round of the opt-in registration was open to those staying in Johor, Penang and Sarawak in addition to Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. I surely wanted to take that opportunity to register.
The registration was supposed to open at 12 noon, but it got delayed until 12:15PM. Then, there were major issues with the registration website due to a large number of people wanting to register. I was able to key in my personal information, but I couldn't select the state no matter how many times I clicked on it. I refreshed the page a countless number of times and I tried using my laptop, tablet and phone, but the same issue persisted.
There were a few times where I managed to select the state, but when I proceed to selecting a vaccination centre and date, a message appeared stating that the slot was full, even though it was still available in reality. I tried registering for about an hour, without success. After that, the website announced that the opt-in registration had closed as all slots had been taken up. I felt quite upset and disappointed.
However on 29 May 2021, I received an SMS which stated that my registration for the AstraZeneca vaccine was being processed. On the next day, I got my 1st dose appointment through MySejahtera, which would be at Persada Johor Bahru International Convention Centre on 22 July. While I was glad to get the appointment, the issue was that my Teaching Fellow job would end on 30 June and I would be returning to my hometown after that.
After giving some thoughts, I decided to stay in Johor Bahru until the end of July so that I could receive the 1st dose of the vaccine. I didn't want to decline the appointment as that would lead to further delays in getting the 1st dose. However, I wouldn't be in Johor Bahru for the 2nd dose. As the interval between doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is 9 weeks, it wouldn't be feasible for me to continue staying in Johor Bahru till then.
On 22 July 2021, I received my 1st dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Persada Johor Bahru as planned. I arrived a bit late as the main road leading to Persada Johor Bahru was closed which required me to take a detour, but that wasn't an issue. The process was quite smooth and well organised, although I had to wait for a while as there were a lot of people. As a matter of fact, I had been to Persada Johor Bahru in July 2019 to attend the NUMed Congregation.
In the morning on 23 July 2021, I started feeling quite lethargic which likely was an adverse effect of the vaccine. I didn't experience any other side effects. On that night, I was feeling a bit better and I could watch the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics online. By 24 July 2021, I had recovered from the lethargy.
I soon received my 2nd dose appointment which would be at Persada Johor Bahru on 23 September. Based on my plans at that time, I would be in Kulim in late September so it would be quite troublesome for me to travel to Johor Bahru. Therefore, I declined the 2nd dose appointment and changed my address on MySejahtera to Kulim, in hopes of getting an appointment in Kulim.
I returned to Subang Jaya on 1 August 2021. On 4 August 2021, I unexpectedly got the news that the start date of my housemanship would be brought forward from October to late August. I decided to do my housemanship at Kluang hospital. Once again, I had to change my address on MySejahtera to Kluang. However, I never got another 2nd dose appointment on MySejahtera.
During the orientation for housemanship, I was told that house officers who hadn't completed their Covid-19 vaccination could get the vaccine at Kluang hospital. However, the AstraZeneca vaccine isn't available in Kluang and the only vaccination centre in Johor with the AstraZeneca vaccine is Persada Johor Bahru. I regretted declining the 2nd dose appointment at Persada Johor Bahru, but I couldn't reinstate it. Consequently, my 2nd dose of vaccine was in limbo.
I contacted MySejahtera helpdesk and the Johor state health department to seek help regarding the issue, and they both told me that I could just walk in to Persada Johor Bahru for my 2nd dose of AstraZeneca vaccine on my original appointment date. Despite that, I was still a little worried as I didn't have an active appointment on MySejahtera.
On 23 September 2021, I went to Persada Johor Bahru to get my 2nd dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. Johor Bahru is about 1 hour and 20 minutes drive from Kluang. As it turned out, the staffs at Persada Johor Bahru are very helpful and friendly. They allowed me to walk in after I explained my situation, and the process completed smoothly. I was happy to go back to Johor Bahru, as I had the opportunity to taste some of the food there which I miss so much.
With that, I have finally completed 2 doses of Covid-19 vaccination, 7 months after I first registered for it. On the following day, I once again felt quite lethargic. The lethargy lasted until 25 September 2021, requiring me to take 2 days of sick leave. Still, that was a relatively minor adverse effect which is totally worth it considering the protection against Covid-19 given by the AstraZeneca vaccine.
In late 2021, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 emerged. Its symptoms are significantly less severe, but it spreads significantly faster. 2 doses of Covid-19 vaccine is no longer sufficient to protect against it, a booster dose is needed. The Malaysian government started offering booster doses of Covid-19 vaccination to the public. Initially, the booster dose was given at 6 months after the 2nd dose, which meant that I would be getting my booster dose in March 2022.
Later, the policy was changed such that the booster dose can be given at least 3 months after the 2nd dose. Many vaccination centres in Malaysia were also allowing walk-ins for the booster dose. Despite that, I wanted to wait until March 2022 before getting my booster dose, as I had read that the efficacy of the booster dose is greatest if given at 6 months after the 2nd dose.
In late January, the number of new Covid-19 cases daily in Malaysia was increasing very rapidly due to the spread of the Omicron variant. Therefore, I considered getting my booster dose earlier. After some reading on the internet, I concluded that getting the booster dose at 3 to 6 months after the 2nd dose will not significantly decrease its effectiveness. I decided to get my booster dose as soon as possible.
At that time, Kluang hospital asked all staff members who would like to receive the booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine to fill up a registration form, and I promptly did so. On 7 February 2022, I received my booster dose at Kluang hospital. This time, I was given the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Once again, I experienced lethargy after getting the vaccine, which required me to take 1 day of sick leave.
In June 2022, Kluang hospital opened the registration for the 2nd booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine to all staff members. I promptly submitted the registration. The 2nd booster dose was to be given at least 6 months after the 1st booster dose, which meant that I would be getting it after 7 August 2022. However on 2 August 2022, I unexpectedly got called for my 2nd booster dose.
As it was just a few days short of 6 months after my 1st booster dose, the effectiveness will not be significantly affected. Therefore, I went ahead with receiving my 2nd booster dose on that day. Once again, I got the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. After the vaccination, I experienced lethargy which was worse compared to the last 2 doses, so I had to take 1 day of sick leave.
I am glad to have completed 4 doses of Covid-19 vaccination. The AstraZeneca + AstraZeneca + Pfizer + Pfizer combination provides good protection against Covid-19, including the Omicron variant. While the number of new Covid-19 cases daily in Malaysia is still high, vaccinations have greatly reduced the severity of Covid-19 infections and allowed us to return to our normal lives just like before the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope everyone will receive their booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
Wednesday, 18 August 2021
I worked as a teaching fellow at Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) for 9 months from 1 October 2020 to 30 June 2021. During my teaching fellowship, I lived at EcoNest which is located quite close to NUMed. Here, I am sharing my experience working as a NUMed teaching fellow. In this post, I will be using a two-letter pseudonym to refer to each particular person.
I received the offer for the teaching fellow post on 25 September. There were 7 teaching fellows for the 2020/2021 academic year, me, LG, GC, NR, TM, AL and KT. TM was on the 3-month contract while the rest of us were on the 9-month contract. Unlike the previous years, the teaching fellows this year wouldn't be offered the Postgraduate Certificate of Medical Education (PGCertMedEd) as the programme was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On 30 September, I met a lecturer for Year 3 EoCP induction.
I started the teaching fellow job officially on 1 October. The 1st week was mainly induction sessions. On 2 October, I went to Hospital Sultan Ismail to help coordinate the first hospital visit of the Year 3 students. I began delivering teaching on 5 October. At that time, I was adapting well to my teaching fellow post. From 5 to 22 October, I delivered only 2 sessions, spirometry skills session and orthopaedics skills session. Both were Year 3 EoCP sessions taught in small groups at the NUMed campus. Every day, I delivered the same session 3 times to different groups of students.
At that time, I wasn't close to my colleagues as I didn't know them well. Still, I would talk to them whenever we met on campus, and occasionally we would have lunch together at the NUMed Garden Café. On 14 October, my NUMed staff email was activated. The delay was due to a cyber attack that Newcastle University was suffering from at that time. On 16 October, the office for teaching fellows was ready. I was in the same office room as LG, GC, NR and TM. I didn't quite like the office as it's a bit old. Instead, I preferred to go to the NUMed library.
On 19 October, NUMed informed that teaching fellows could apply for Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) or Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). I and my colleagues were interested to apply, as it would be a good alternative to the PGCertMedEd which we couldn't get. To get the AFHEA or FHEA, we had to complete a written assignment. The FHEA is of higher level than the AFHEA, but is significantly more difficult.
On 22 October, I submitted my UK Foundation Programme (UKFP) application. On 25 October, my friend IL passed me my MBBS certificate which she helped me to collect previously. From 26 to 28 October, I delivered the EoCP acute care simulation session and orthopaedics skills session. During a session on 28 October, one of the students kept laughing while the other students weren't engaging well, which made me feel a bit annoyed.
I received my first salary from NUMed on 28 October, which felt so good. On 29 October, I submitted my application for Foundation Priority Programme (FPP) of UKFP. On 30 October, I, LG, GC, NR and TM filmed a tutorial video for an upcoming Year 1 session. After we were done, they invited me to join them for lunch at The Tribus @ Puteri Harbour and I agreed. That was my first time going out with my colleagues, and it brought me closer to them.
The start of November marked some significant changes to my teaching fellowship experience. Year 3 EoCP had just ended, which would be followed by MACS. Only LG, GC, NR and TM were involved in the teaching for MACS, while I would be teaching Year 1 and Year 2 moving forward. The Year 1 and Year 2 sessions were supposed to be a mix of online and face-to-face sessions. However, Johor Bahru became a Covid-19 red zone at that time. As a result, face-to-face sessions at NUMed were no longer allowed and all sessions had to be moved online.
For the first 2 days, I delivered the virtual hospital visit debriefing sessions. The sessions were quite boring and I didn't have much to talk about. From 4 to 10 November, I delivered several sessions on hearing loss. Although those sessions were interesting, I very much preferred to deliver them face-to-face. I and my colleagues had planned to deliver Written Skills Examination (WriSkE) practice sessions for the Year 3 and Year 4 students, but we had to scrap the plan due to suspension of face-to-face teaching. Instead, I shared a compilation of WriSkE resources with the students.
I chose to deliver many of the online sessions from my office as the internet connection there is very stable. At that time, I began to like my office a lot and I went there quite often. There was a focus group discussion on 6 November where I and my colleagues gave our feedback about the NUMed MBBS programme based on our experiences. On 7 November, I and colleagues had a dinner with a senior lecturer at Alam Seafood Restaurant. SF, a teaching fellow from the previous year, joined us as well.
On 8 November, Johor Bahru ceased to be a red zone. However, the government had decided to implement the Conditional MCO (CMCO) in Johor. Under CMCO, no face-to-face sessions were allowed and students also weren't allowed to use the NUMed library, but staff members could still enter the NUMed campus. On 11 November, I delivered a Malay language support session for the international students. On the week from 16 to 20 November, I had no sessions at all. I felt quite bored and I really wished I could teach Year 3 MACS.
On 21 November, the CMCO in Johor ended and the number of active Covid-19 cases in Johor Bahru was close to 0. With that, face-to-face sessions at NUMed could resume on 23 November and I was so delighted. Unfortunately, the number of new Covid-19 cases in Johor Bahru increased rapidly right after that. Just a few days later, Johor Bahru was a red zone again and face-to-face sessions once again had to stop. I didn't have the opportunity to deliver any face-to-face sessions during that period of time, as I was only involved in 2 online sessions on 23 and 24 November.
Around that time, several clinical teaching fellows (CTFs) from UK started working at NUMed. Between November and December, I delivered 2 online revision sessions for the Year 3 students. On 26 November, I attended a support session for AFHEA and FHEA. I decided to apply for AFHEA during the April 2021 submission period. Starting from 30 November, I was quite busy again as I had online teaching sessions on several days every week. As a teaching fellow, I like being busy. I had become quite close to my colleagues at that time and we often went out for lunch or dinner together.
As the number of new Covid-19 cases in Johor Bahru kept increasing, I had to accept the reality that face-to-face sessions at NUMed wouldn't be allowed anytime soon. I decided to embrace online sessions and I aimed to deliver them as best as I could. On 7 December, the CMCO was reimplemented in Johor Bahru. Unlike the previous CMCO, both students and staff members were allowed to enter the NUMed campus to use the facilities. Strangely enough, interstate travel was allowed for the whole country except for areas under Enhanced MCO.
On 5 December, I and my colleagues had a dinner with the CTFs at The Spice Kitchen. Despite being in Johor Bahru for more than 6 years, that was my first time going to The Spice Kitchen. Throughout November and December, most of the sessions I delivered were history taking and clinical reasoning sessions for Year 1 and Year 2. I also delivered a few advanced communication sessions for Stage 5 P4P. I really enjoyed delivering all those sessions. Based on the teaching evaluation I received, most of my students liked my teaching as well.
On 11 December, AL missed out on a session he was scheduled to deliver due to some issues with the timetable. As I was delivering the same session with another group of students, I told his group of students to join my session. On that afternoon, there was a support session for teaching fellows on Teaching and Learning in Classroom. I and KT voted to have the session face-to-face, GC and NR voted to have it online, while LG, TM and AL didn't vote, resulting in a 2 vs 2 tie. Later, KT defected and voted for online instead, breaking the tie. In the end, the session was carried out online.
On 17 December, I took the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) for UKFP. The SJT was held online through remote proctoring and I used a computer at the NUMed campus. On 18 December, I marked the online Year 1 oral presentation. That was the last day of the 1st semester and TM's teaching fellow post came to an end. There was 2 weeks of winter break from 19 December to 3 January, during which the NUMed campus was closed. I returned to my hometown for the break.
The 2nd semester of my teaching fellowship began on 4 January. In January, the Year 1 and Year 2 students were having exams so there weren't any teaching sessions for them. On the 1st week, I delivered 2 Prescribing Safety Assessment sessions for Stage 5. On the 2nd week, I conducted online interviews for a few students who were applying to study MBBS at NUMed. On 15 January, I helped perform a test run of the online surgical bad-day-on-call session planned by the CTFs for Stage 5. The CTFs gave me valuable feedback on my performance during the session.
The MCO 2.0 was implemented on 13 January due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in Malaysia. Under MCO 2.0, face-to-face sessions were allowed for medical students undergoing clinical training. Students were also allowed to use the NUMed library, but staff members had to request for permission in order to enter campus. NUMed allowed me to deliver online sessions from my office after I explained that the internet connection at EcoNest wasn't very stable.
On 19 and 20 January, I was involved in the Stage 5 surgery acute care simulation session as a simulated patient. That was my first face-to-face session since 28 October. On 21 January, I delivered an online session on History of Medicine for the Foundation students. On the following week, I marked the Year 1 and Year 2 Short Answer Paper (SAP) exams. The exams and the marking were both done online.
On 2 February, I started delivering teaching sessions for Year 1 and Year 2. Clinical skills sessions were conducted face-to-face while clinical reasoning and history taking sessions were conducted online. There were several replacement sessions for the clinical skills sessions that couldn't be held face-to-face in the previous semester. I was so glad to meet my Year 1 and Year 2 students in person for the first time after having taught them entirely online in the previous semester. On 4 February, I marked the online oral presentation for the Foundation students.
The Chinese New Year was on 12 February. I couldn't return to my hometown as interstate travel wasn't allowed under the MCO 2.0 . Dining in at restaurants was allowed at that time, so I celebrated the Chinese New Year by going to several restaurants for my lunch and dinner. As I didn't have any red shirts, I went to AEON Bukit Indah to buy one. I bought Chinese New Year cards and gave them to my colleagues. On 15 February, I attended the OSCE examiner training session.
A few of my batch mates created the Come Together (CT) programme to help the Stage 5 students in their preparation for final exams and I decided to join it. Under the CT programme, I would be mentoring 2 students. Around that time, replacement sessions for Year 3 MACS were scheduled. I and my colleagues were supposed to deliver those sessions, but NUMed later decided to let the CTFs take over the sessions. As a result, we were no longer involved in teaching Year 3.
On 19 February, I marked the online Year 2 oral presentation. On 23 February, I, LG and GC had lunch together for the first time since December and we had a long chat. On 27 February, I and my colleagues had dinner at Rosmarino Italian Restaurant. At that time, we had become very close. Between February and March, I delivered a total of 5 online lectures for Year 1, which were Understanding Asthma, Drugs Used in the Respiratory System, Treatment of Asthma & COPD, Antibiotic Resistance and Skin & Systemic Diseases.
I took over the eye examination session from NR on 4 March as I really wished to teach eye examination. On 5 March, the MCO 2.0 ended and was replaced with the CMCO. With that, staff members were no longer required to seek permission to enter the NUMed campus, while face-to-face sessions were still allowed at NUMed. Around that time, I, LG, GC and NR chose to participate in a research project led by our senior lecturer. Our role would be to perform data analysis. I, LG and GC went for lunch at 安记酿豆腐 in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah on 11 March.
On 11 March, the UKFP allocation was out. I got allocated to Northern Foundation School which was my 1st choice. However, my application for the FPP was unsuccessful. My SJT score was 35.5 out of 50. Coincidentally, I was told to do the hospital selection for the Malaysian house officer programme through the e-Housemen system on the next day. As I wanted to complete my teaching fellowship first, I chose to defer the start of my house officer training by 6 months.
On 13 March, I and my colleagues jointly conducted an online MOSLER practice session for our mentees in the CT programme. On that night, we had dinner at Carabao Restaurant, where we jointly celebrated me, LG and AL's birthdays. GC offered to let me take over her mental health seminar on 18 March as she would be delivering a webinar on Orthopaedics for the NUMed Medical Education Society, which I gladly accepted.
On 21 March, I, LG and GC went to Mount Austin to meet up with our friend NB and we had dinner together. I had not seen NB for quite some time and I was happy to meet her. On 22 March, I and my colleagues filmed several tutorial videos for the upcoming Year 2 sessions. My birthday is on 23 March. Many of my friends wished me, including all of my colleagues, several of my 2015-2020 batch mates and several of my students. On 24 March, I met a few Year 1 students to do the sign-offs for their clinical skills.
On 26 March, LG was having dinner with a few Year 2 students at a restaurant near EcoNest and he invited me to join them. I had a great conversation with my students, enabling me to know them better. When walking back to EcoNest, we coincidentally met a few Year 1 students and they said hi to us. After that, I started getting a lot of followers on Instagram from my Year 1 and Year 2 students and I followed all of them back. There were 2 weeks of Easter break from 27 March to 11 April. I didn't return to my hometown as interstate travel was still not allowed.
On 28 March and 3 April, I delivered online sessions on IV Fluid Management and Acute Red Eye for Stage 5 students under the CT programme. The NUMed library remained open throughout the break and I went there almost every day. I was busy writing my AFHEA assignment. I also did the statistical analysis for the research project I and my colleagues participated in, using R software which I learnt during my SSC1 in Stage 4. I let NR take over my Increased Intracranial Pressure and Brain Death lecture on 14 April as she was really interested in delivering it.
I delivered the Basic First Aid session for Year 1 on 14 and 15 April. On 16 April, I and my colleagues had a very long conversation at our office and we skipped lunch. I, LG and GC then went for a heavy dinner at Spiced Mala Hotpot on that evening. The AMSA Medical Myth Quiz was held on 17 April for the Year 1 and Year 2 students. I and LG contributed many questions for the quiz. After the quiz, we provided the explanation for each question to the participants. On 18 April, I finally completed and submitted my AFHEA assignment.
On 20 April, I and my colleagues jointly conducted the 2nd online MOSLER practice session for our mentees. On 22 April, I delivered a session on knee and foot examination. As foot examination wasn't actually in the Year 2 learning outcomes, the students were only required to feel for the bony structures in the feet. However, I felt there was no point in just learning that, so I decided to teach my students the foot examination in full. While they acknowledged that it's difficult, they still performed it quite well.
At that time, I decided to apply for FHEA during the next submission period. One of the CTFs had strongly encouraged me to go for it. Although I knew it's difficult, I wanted to give it a try. On 23 April, I delivered a session on sensory and motor examination. The session was supposed to last 2 hours, but as the examination is really long, it took me 2 hours 30 minutes to finish. Right after that, I had another online session which I had to delay the start by 30 minutes. Thankfully, it didn't clash with the students' timetables.
For the next sensory and motor examination session on 26 April, I tried to save time by telling my students to watch the tutorial video beforehand, but the session still went overtime by 15 minutes and the lab technician got quite annoyed about that. There was one more sensory and motor examination session on 27 April. This time, I used a different strategy and managed to finish the session within 2 hours. AL still hadn't finish the session when the 2 hours was up, so I took one of his students to help save time.
Around that time, my colleagues remarked that one of the shirts I wore had a few holes on it. They advised me to stop wearing it, but I told them that I really liked the shirt. They then decided to give me a makeover by getting me a new shirt. On 25 April, I and my colleagues went to Oriental Kopi in Johor Jaya for breakfast followed by JWC for lunch. We then went to Mid Valley Southkey where my colleagues chose 2 really nice shirts for me. On that evening, we had dinner at 豪享痴卤肉饭. It was a really interesting outing.
During the abdominal examination and cardiovascular examination sessions on 28 and 29 April, my students requested to take photos with me and I gladly agreed. On 28 April, I and LG conducted an acute care simulation practice session for our CT programme mentees. On 29 April, I took over the clinical reasoning in bowel disease session from AL and KT. On that night, I and my colleagues had dinner with a senior lecturer at Carabao Restaurant. I love my teaching fellow job so much and at that time, I made the firm decision to pursue Medical Education in the future.
I delivered an online lecture on Nutrition in Elderly for Year 2 on 4 May. I played badminton with LG, KT, AL and the CTFs at the EduCity Sports Complex on 5 May. On 6 May, I, LG and GC had dinner together at Oven & Fried Chicken. That was our last outing before the MCO 3.0 was implemented on 7 May. Under the MCO 3.0, dining in at restaurants wasn't allowed. Face-to-face sessions were still allowed for medical students undergoing clinical training, while staff members had to request for permission to enter the NUMed campus.
On 7 May, there was a face-to-face session on Falls in the Elderly, which I and my colleagues had been planning for weeks. The session provided the Year 2 students with MOSLER style practice. I chose to take over the clinical reasoning in genetic disorders session on 10 May, as I really liked genetics. I was an examiner for the Year 2 OSCE on 11 and 12 May. On 15 May, I, LG and GC conducted an online Q&A session for Stage 5 students under the CT programme, as they would be having their final exams soon. On 17 May, I was informed that my AFHEA application had been successful.
My last ever face-to-face session was on 18 May. Around that time, I received teaching evaluation from the Year 1, Year 2 and Stage 5 students, who gave me very positive feedback. On 20 May, I marked the Year 2 SAP exam. The exam was paper-based but the marking was done online. GC bought some pastries for me and LG on that day and it was really good. From 24 to 27 May, I delivered online sessions on Urine Dipstick for Year 2 TCBL. On 27 May, I marked the Year 1 SAP exam. Throughout May, I regularly conducted online MOSLER practice sessions for my CT programme mentees.
On 1 June, the Full MCO was implemented. Under the Full MCO, entry into the NUMed campus by students and staff members was only allowed for exam purposes. Since then, I didn't have the opportunity to meet GC and NR in person again. On 2 June, I withdrew from the UKFP. I took over the online TCBL Mock Round session on 4 June from one of the CTFs. During the session, I conducted a case-based discussion on heart failure with my students. That was my last ever teaching session.
On 8 June, it was the Year 3 Exemption OSCE and I volunteered to be a simulated patient. On 16 June, I marked the online oral presentation for the Foundation students. That was my 4th time marking oral presentations. During the Year 4 MOSLER on 22 and 23 June, I once again was one of the simulated patients. That was officially my last session as a teaching fellow. Between June and July, I and my colleagues had several meetings through Zoom.
The final exam results for Stage 5 was released on 23 June. Both my CT programme mentees passed Stage 5 and I was so happy about that. However, before they could graduate, they had to replace the hospital assistantships they missed out previously due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I went to my office on that day and left a message for the future teaching fellows.
Around that time, I started writing my FHEA assignment. It turned out to be not as difficult as I had expected. On 25 June, I finally received my AFHEA certificate. On 26 June, I had an online discussion session with my CT programme mentees about the teaching fellowship application. My teaching fellowship contract ended on 30 June. I got the permission to enter the NUMed campus on that day to take out my personal belongings from my office. I definitely felt very emotional about that.
I continued staying at EcoNest until the end of July. On 6 July, the teaching fellowship application for the next academic year opened. Both my CT programme mentees were applying and I wrote a reference for them. On 13 July, I completed and submitted my FHEA assignment. The outcome of my FHEA application would only be known in November. On 22 July, I went to Persada Johor International Convention Centre to receive my first dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. The only adverse effect I experienced was feeling lethargic.
On 1 August, I moved out of EcoNest and returned to my hometown. After staying at EcoNest for 3 years, I finally had to leave permanently, which made me feel very emotional. My NUMed staff email was disabled on 2 August, which marked the end of my teaching fellowship at NUMed. On 9 August, both my CT programme mentees were offered the teaching fellow post for the 2021/2022 academic year and I was so glad to know that. They started their teaching fellow job on 16 August.
I definitely had a very great experience working as a teaching fellow at NUMed. It surely is my most favourite year out of my 7 years at NUMed. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions I delivered as a teaching fellow, as I love interacting and sharing my knowledge with my students. My teaching fellow colleagues are truly sincere in friendship, and we spent a lot of good time together. I am extremely grateful to NUMed for giving me the opportunity to be a teaching fellow. The imperfection of my teaching fellowship was the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to face-to-face teaching. However, the online sessions I delivered were still quite fun. I will always remember all the memories I had throughout my teaching fellowship. I hope that not too far in the future, I will be able to return to NUMed as a lecturer.
If you liked this story, you may want to read this too:
For more information about the MBBS course at NUMed, go to this link:
Tuesday, 10 August 2021
On 10 June 2021, I had really weird dream.
In my dream, I was going for breakfast with 2 of my Teaching Fellow colleagues, LG and GC. We went to a restaurant at Taman Tasek, Johor Bahru. GC was driving while I and LG followed in her car. On the way to the restaurant, we stopped somewhere for ice-cream. LG and GC ordered the regular size of the ice-cream, while I ordered the large size as I really like ice-cream. The ice-cream was really good, so I took my time to enjoy it.
When we arrived at the restaurant, LG and GC had finished their ice-cream but I still haven't finished mine. The restaurant was located at the 1st floor and there were many customers. As many restaurants don't allow outside food, I didn't want to bring in my ice-cream. I suggested that LG and GC enter the restaurant first to get a table while I continue having the ice-cream in the car, and they agreed.
A few minutes later, I finished the ice-cream and went into the restaurant. I looked around the restaurant, but LG and GC were nowhere to be seen. I then went from one table to another and I still couldn't find them. I couldn't call or message them as I had forgotten to bring out my phone from home. I thought that LG and GC might be playing a prank on me. There was an empty table, so I sat there and waited for them to show up.
After waiting for some time, LG and GC still didn't appear. I was getting hungry, so I didn't continue to wait and I ordered my food. When I was about to finish my meal, I suddenly noticed that LG was sitting at a table not too far away from my table. I immediately approached him. LG told me that he had been sitting there and waiting for me all the while. Strangely, I didn't notice him at all before that and he too didn't notice me, even though our tables were at obvious locations.
I then asked LG where was GC. However, he said that GC didn't join us for the breakfast at all and that it was just the 2 of us right from the beginning. That sounded so unbelievable as I was so sure that GC was with us earlier and she was the one driving. For some reason, I was feeling very tired at that time, so I thought that I might be hallucinating things. I walked out of the restaurant to see if things were real, only to find that GC's car was no longer there.
I got so confused that I woke up from my dream.
In reality, throughout my Teaching Fellowship at NUMed, I often go for lunch and dinner with my colleagues. However, that ended after the MCO 3.0 was implemented on 7 May 2021, where dining in at restaurants was no longer allowed. I really miss going out with my colleagues, which is probably why I had this dream.
Interestingly, I and my colleagues never had breakfast together. We also never went to Taman Tasek, although we passed by the place several times. The only restaurant I know at Taman Tasek is George & Dragon Café, which I tried only twice. George & Dragon Café is located at the ground floor rather than the 1st floor, and it doesn't look like the restaurant in my dream at all.
Monday, 2 August 2021
The NUMed managed accommodation is located at EcoNest. I stayed at EcoNest for almost 3 years. I first moved into EcoNest on 26 August 2018 when I began Stage 5 of MBBS.
The NUMed managed accommodation was previously at Horizon Residences, but it got moved to EcoNest in 2018. My first impression of EcoNest was that it looks much nicer and has better facilities compared to Horizon Residences. My unit was at Tower C of EcoNest. I particularly liked the washer-dryer provided by NUMed in my unit, as it makes it very convenient to wash and dry my laundry.
Despite that, initially I didn't like EcoNest and I still preferred Horizon Residences. The area surrounding EcoNest was rather isolated which made me feel uncomfortable. There weren't many shops nearby, so I had to travel quite a distance to Bukit Indah for my meals which I found quite troublesome. Worse still, NUMed didn't provide a cleaning service for EcoNest, and instead wanted us to be responsible for the cleanliness of our unit.
However, those negative feelings didn't last long. Soon, I had gotten used to the area surrounding EcoNest and I was no longer uncomfortable with it. In fact, I realised that even though the area may seem isolated, it's actually good in the sense that it feels close to nature. As EcoNest is located quite near the NUMed campus, I don't have to wake up so early on the days where I have sessions at the campus.
A few weeks after moving into EcoNest, I had liked this place so much that I preferred it over Horizon Residences. Then in October 2018, in response to students' feedback, NUMed finally introduced the cleaning service for EcoNest. At that point, I felt that the NUMed accommodation at EcoNest just became perfect.
As time went on, more and more shops opened in the area surrounding EcoNest. With that, I no longer had to travel to Bukit Indah very often. In fact, almost all kinds of food is available near EcoNest now, including Chinese food, Malay food, Western food, Nyonya food, Indian food, Arabian food, Thai food, Japanese food and Korean food.
From September 2018 to December 2018, I had only one housemate in my unit. Although I wasn't close to him, I didn't have any issues with him. In December 2018, he moved out permanently as he would be doing his medical electives outside Johor Bahru for the following semester. Therefore, I could have the entire unit in EcoNest for myself, which is a privilege that not many students get.
In June 2019, with the end of Stage 5 of MBBS, I was supposed to leave EcoNest permanently which made me feel quite emotional. However, it turned out that I failed my Stage 5 final exam and had to repeat Stage 5. I definitely wanted to continue staying at EcoNest for my repeat year of Stage 5. NUMed offered me another unit at EcoNest and helped me move my personal belongings to the new unit.
My new unit was at Tower B. It's larger compared to the previous unit, but this also meant I had to live with more housemates. I really disliked one of my housemates because he often brought his girlfriend to the unit and they were quite noisy. In January 2020, it got worse as he started bringing a large group of friends and they liked to talk loudly even past midnight. I made a report to NUMed without hesitation and thankfully it put a stop to that.
In March 2020, the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented in Malaysia. My annoying housemate moved out permanently right before the MCO started and I was so glad about that. Throughout the MCO, I stayed in Johor Bahru instead of returning to my hometown. As I hardly went out, I spent most of the time at EcoNest. Thanks to the fact that EcoNest is a very nice place and has excellent facilities, it made the MCO much more bearable for me.
There are some cafes at the ground floor of EcoNest, but for a long time I didn't bother trying them. Since the MCO started, only one of the cafes remained open. In April 2020, for the first time I ordered takeaway from that cafe, and it's quite good. Since then, I had been ordering food from there regularly. After the MCO got replaced with the Conditional MCO, that was the first place I went to dine in.
EcoNest has a swimming pool. Between August 2018 and June 2020, I walked pass it several times but I never used it. In July 2020, I finally used the swimming pool for the first time. However, I found it a bit underwhelming. Although it looks quite nice, it somehow feels more like a fish pond than a swimming pool. The swimming pool is the one thing where EcoNest loses out to Horizon Residences.
My repeat year of Stage 5 was supposed to end in June 2020. However, the final exams got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so I stayed at EcoNest for another 2 months. It's a good thing that NUMed didn't charge me extra for that. When I completed my MBBS course in August 2020, I thought I would be leaving EcoNest permanently, which no doubt made me feel very emotional.
Later, I got offered the full-year teaching fellow post at NUMed, which meant that I would be in Johor Bahru for another year. Unlike students, teaching fellows are unable to apply for the NUMed managed accommodation. However, I could directly contact the agent that manages the student accommodation at EcoNest. One of the previous year's teaching fellows recommended a unit at Impiana for me.
I chose to stay at EcoNest again as it's cheaper and I really like the place after having stayed there for 2 years. I got a new unit at Tower A and it's of the same size as the previous unit. The facilities provided in this unit are almost as good as the units managed by NUMed. My new housemates were quite nice. Although I wasn't close to them, I never had any issues with them. In October 2020, a new cafe opened at the ground floor of EcoNest and I really like it.
Just like the previous year, I had to experience periods of MCO, which once again was much more bearable thanks to EcoNest. I delivered several online teaching sessions from my room in EcoNest. Occasionally, my teaching fellow colleagues would come to my unit where we had lunch or dinner together. They really liked EcoNest as well, and one of them remarked that he regretted not staying at EcoNest.
Throughout my teaching fellowship year at NUMed, I used the EcoNest swimming pool several times. Although I didn't really like it previously, I began to appreciate it's uniqueness. I even recommended it to my colleagues. With the implementation of the MCO 3.0 in May 2021, the swimming pool had to be closed and I never had the opportunity to use it again.
My teaching fellowship came to an end in June 2021. However, my Covid-19 vaccine appointment would be in Johor Bahru on 22 July 2021. I didn't want to reject the appointment as that would cause further delays. Therefore, I decided to stay at EcoNest until the end of July. I had been treasuring every moment of my stay at EcoNest as I knew I would be moving out permanently before long. Despite that, time still passed so quickly.
On 1 August 2021, I finally have to leave EcoNest permanently for real. Needless to say, I feel very emotional about this. I definitely have a lot of great memories at EcoNest over the past 3 years. I won't be returning to EcoNest again anytime soon, as I am not doing my housemanship in Johor Bahru.
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Friday, 23 July 2021
There have been some drama going on with my Google account.
I had always refused to enable 2-step verification for my Google account. I found it inconvenient and I was sure that my account would be safe as long as I don't give out my password to anyone. Most importantly, I was worried that if I were to lose my phone, 2-step verification would prevent me from using Find My Device to locate my phone, as I wouldn't have my phone for the sign-in process. Unlike Apple, Google doesn't allow you to bypass 2-step verification for Find My Device.
Problems started in mid-April 2021. At that time, I received an email stating that my Google Ads ID had been suspended due to suspicious activity, and another email stating that I had successfully set up a video ad on Google Ads. Google Ads is a service where users pay Google to do advertising for them. Since I definitely don't use Google Ads, I thought those emails were just spam. In the following days, I received several more emails with similar content. I then realised that the emails were sent from Google itself so they couldn't be fake.
I did some checking and found out that a total of 20 Google Ads IDs had been created under my Google account without my knowledge! Some of those Google Ads IDs had been suspended due to suspicious activity, but the rest were still active and had accumulated charges ranging from RM30 to RM150 for each account. Worse still, as I had added my debit card to Google Pay for my previous purchases on the Google Play Store, those Google Ads charges were ready to be charged to my debit card anytime!
Someone must have gained unauthorised access to my Google account and created those Google Ads IDs. Strangely enough, when I checked the login history for my Google account, there were no logins other than those from my own devices. All my devices have passcodes and I never let anyone use them. I really had no idea how it all happened. I immediately changed my Google account password and enabled 2-step verification.
I tried removing my debit card from Google Pay before it could be charged, but I couldn't as there were outstanding charges for Google Ads. I also couldn't disable the Google Ads IDs as the Google Ads user interface is really complicated. I had to report the whole issue through Google Ads help center. There was no live chat available and the only option was to fill up an online form. The form asked for the Google Ads ID, where I could only key in 1 ID, but I explained in the main text that there were 20 IDs in total.
The Google Ads support team replied me a few days later, but only for the 1 Google Ads ID where I filled up in the online form. They disabled that ID and stated that I would not be charged anything for it. I then asked about the other 19 Google Ads IDs. They promised to get back to me in a few days, but they didn't do so. Later, I managed to navigate through the Google Ads user interface and cancel all of the Google Ads IDs. After that, I was able to remove my debit card from Google Pay. I thought the whole issue was over.
Some of the cancelled Google Ads IDs still had outstanding balances, which were still showing up in Google Pay. I didn't bother about that since my debit card was no longer linked to Google Pay. However on 8 May, RM34 was charged to my debit card for 1 of the cancelled Google Ads IDs. That meant I surely would be charged for the other Google Ads IDs as well, which would be several hundred ringgits in total. I immediately called my bank to block my debit card and request a chargeback for the RM34.
After I got a new debit card, I did not add it to Google Pay as I was worried that the outstanding balances for Google Ads would be charged to my new card. Later, I wanted to buy a custom domain for this blog. Among the domain providers, I felt that Google Domains is the best as it is cheap, reliable and can be integrated with Blogger easily. However, I couldn't make the payment for Google Domains without adding my debit card to Google Pay.
I wanted to know whether I would be charged for those cancelled Google Ads IDs if I add my debit card to Google Pay, so I seek help through Google Pay help center. Live chat was available, but only for Google Play developers. Although I have an app on the Google Play Store, the system somehow couldn't recognise it and wouldn't let me access the live chat. I had to go to the live chat for Google Play Store help center and ask them to connect me to Google Pay help center, which they reluctantly did.
The Google Pay support team told me that since my issue is with Google Ads, I should contact Google Ads help center. I argued that since the outstanding balances were showing up in Google Pay, it should be their job to do something. They insisted that they couldn't help me with that, and they couldn't give me an answer on whether the balances would be charged to my new card if I add it to Google Pay. As the Google Ads help center doesn't have live chat, they couldn't connect me to it.
I had no choice but to go to Google Ads help center and fill up the online form. Once again, the form asked for the Google Ads ID and I keyed in 1 of the cancelled Google Ads IDs. A day later, the Google Ads support team replied me that the Google Ads ID I keyed in was invalid and asked me to provide a valid ID. I then sent them a screenshot proving the existence of the 20 Google Ads IDs. Despite that, they insisted that none of the IDs were valid and asked me to provide a valid Google Ads ID.
I reiterated that all those Google Ads IDs had been cancelled but still had outstanding balances. I told them that instead of arguing about the validity of the IDs, they should just answer my question on whether those balances would be charged if I add my new card to Google Pay. They claimed that for security reasons, they must verify the validity of the IDs before they could proceed. They suggested that I create a new Google account if I am concerned about the outstanding balances and told me to fill up the online form again if I had further questions.
Creating a new Google account is definitely not an option for me, as I am using my current account for so many online services. At that time, I found a number to phone Google Ads support. However, the person I spoke to said that her job is only to help users set up their Google Ads campaigns. She insisted that she couldn't help me with my case and that my only option was to fill up the online form on Google Ads help center. I complained to her about how unhelpful the help center is, but she replied that there was nothing she could do about it.
Outraged by that, I filled up the online form once more. This time, I stated clearly that all of the Google Ads IDs had been cancelled so they most probably would be invalid. I also attached several screenshots to the form to prove that all those IDs were linked to my Google account. The support team got back to me, repeating that the Google Ads IDs were invalid and that I had to provide a valid ID. They added that they would not accept screenshots for verification.
It's clear that the Google support team isn't going to help me no matter what, simply because they won't make money from that. The amount of money I would pay for Google Domains is simply too insignificant for Google. Google is only interested in earning big money from Google Ads and Youtube Premium. Google has been nagging me to subscribe for YouTube Premium at a ridiculous price of 12 USD per month! For users who don't pay for that, Google shows more and more disgusting ads and denies them the most basic feature of background music playback.
Later, I managed to close down my Google Pay profile, which erased all of the outstanding balances from Google Pay. However, it stated that I would still be responsible for those balances. The question is if I create a new Google Pay profile and add my debit card to it, will those outstanding balances be charged to my card? There's no point for me to ask Google Pay or Google Ads support about that. Instead, I have decided that I will never add my debit card to Google Pay or buy anything from Google again.
I decided to buy my blog domain from Namecheap. It is cheaper than Google Domains, and although it has to be linked to Blogger manually, it's user interface is quite user friendly. I am currently using a Google Pixel 2 phone, but I intend to get a new phone within the next year, and my next phone will definitely be an iPhone. After I get an iPhone, I will never have to use the Google Play Store again. I am also using AdBlock Plus when browsing the internet to get rid of all ads from Google.
Friday, 9 July 2021
Sunday, 4 July 2021
Between March 2021 and June 2021, there have been a number of incidents involving my car.
In late March, one of my friend came to Johor Bahru to visit me and we went for dinner together. I let him drive my car since he was interested to try it out. He commented about the brake of my car, saying that he had to step the brake pedal quite hard before the car would slow down. I had never noticed that previously and I realised he was right. However, I wasn't really concerned as I thought it had always been like that and I had gotten used to it.
One day in early May, when I was driving up the EcoNest multi-storey car park, I accidentally hit the edge of the ramp. It wasn't caused by brake failure, it was me being careless. I heard a loud noise, and as expected, one of the car tyres was punctured. I called a mechanic for help. He fitted the spare tyre and drove my car to his workshop to change a new tyre. He then mentioned the same thing my friend had previously said about the brake.
The mechanic said that the cause was either low brake fluid or faulty brake pump. He offered to refill the brake fluid and I agreed. However, it brought little improvements, which meant the issue was with the brake pump. He said that he would check the price of a new brake pump and let me know, but he didn't get back to me. Since the brake had been like that for quite a long time, I didn't bother replacing the brake pump.
In early June, the full MCO was implemented. For the first few days, I didn't drive my car at all. Then one day, I wanted to go to a restaurant in Bukit Indah to buy my lunch. As I was driving down the ramps of the car park, I suddenly found that the brake wasn't working. Even after stepping the brake pedal all the way to the floor, my car wasn't slowing down at all. Luckily, the brake could work after I let go of the pedal and stepped it again. Otherwise, it might lead to another punctured tyre.
I tried driving around EcoBotanic at low speeds. I found out that each time I wanted to brake, I had to step the pedal twice. It was quite dangerous and I realised that the brake definitely had to be repaired. I had to abandon my plans to go to Bukit Indah despite my craving for the food. Thankfully, that restaurant was available for delivery on GrabFood starting from the following day.
To avoid having to go up and down the ramps of the car park with a faulty brake, I parked my car outside EcoNest. There were many parking space available due to the full MCO. I contacted the mechanic who replaced the tyre previously. However, I had to wait a few days before his workshop received the permission to operate during the full MCO. Another workshop which I contacted didn't have the spare parts for my car.
The mechanic told me that the new brake pump would cost RM900. I discussed with my family members and they felt that it's reasonable, so I decided to go ahead with replacing the brake pump. However, I thought that the repair would take several days and I was having a number of sessions at the NUMed campus around that time. Driving to NUMed was still safe as it's just a short distance away and I made sure to drive only at low speeds.
Therefore, I waited until after my last session on 23 June. At that time, the mechanic said that the spare parts had to be delivered from KL, which would take several days. The spare parts arrived on 29 June and I could finally get the brake pump replaced. As it turned out, the repair was completed on that day itself. After the repair, there was clearly a huge improvement to the braking.
I hope there won't be any more issues with my car from now on.
Saturday, 26 June 2021
Friday, 11 June 2021
I have been at NUMed for a total of 7 years. Here's an interesting fact: I almost never spoke Mandarin during my 1st and 2nd year at NUMed, I spoke a bit of Mandarin during my 3rd, 4th and 5th year at NUMed, and I spoke Mandarin a lot during my 6th and 7th year at NUMed.
During the first 5 years, many people at NUMed thought that I couldn't speak Mandarin since they never heard me speaking it. In reality, I have been speaking Mandarin since I was very young, I studied Chinese during primary and secondary school, and I got grade A- for Chinese Language in SPM. So, why didn't I speak Mandarin during those 5 years?
It dates back to my first day at NUMed. At that time, a lecturer at NUMed told all students that since we are studying a British degree, having a good command of English is essential. She strongly advised us to speak only English at NUMed so that we could improve our English proficiency.
I felt that her advice was quite reasonable so I chose to follow it. Initially, my group mates followed the advice as well. We always communicated in English. Soon, we had become quite close to each other. Later though, some of my group mates began communicating in Mandarin at times, and I thought of doing the same.
The problem is that after I have gotten used to speaking in a particular language with someone I am quite close to, it's extremely difficult for me to switch to speaking a different language with them, as it feels so awkward to do so.
Therefore, I continued speaking to my group mates only in English throughout Stage 1 and Stage 2. I had a close friend in that group, and I always spoke to him in English as well. I knew that he would like to speak to me in Mandarin, but I just couldn't switch languages as we had gotten very close while communicating in English. However, he still became one of my best friends.
After I entered Stage 3, the student grouping was reshuffled and it kept changing from one rotation to another. A few of my Stage 1 and Stage 2 group mates were still in the same group with me. Many of the Chinese students in my new group really liked to speak in Mandarin.
It would be weird for me to speak to my new group mates in Mandarin but not to those who had been my group mates since Stage 1. Therefore, I chose to speak to everyone only in English. Unfortunately, I couldn't communicate with my new group mates very well because of that, and consequently we didn't get very close.
During the LTC rotation in Stage 3, I was placed in the same group with TL and EL. We started speaking to each other in Mandarin. I had no issues with that as previously they weren't in the same group with me and I had rarely spoken to them. That was the only time in Stage 3 where I spoke Mandarin. EL later became one of my closest friends and we always communicate in Mandarin.
In Stage 4, I was placed in the same group with several of my Stage 3 group mates as well as SG. I had never spoken to SG previously, but I could see that she is very good at speaking Mandarin. I wanted to be friends with SG, and I felt that it would be most effective to communicate with her in Mandarin. However, I only spoke to her in Mandarin whenever my other group mates weren't around.
The student grouping for Stage 5 was largely the same as that for Stage 4. I had gotten quite close to SG at that time, so I always spoke to her in Mandarin even when my other group mates were around. They were quite surprised when they heard me speaking in Mandarin to SG for the first time.
They tried communicating with me in Mandarin as well, but I refused as I still couldn't overcome the awkwardness of switching languages. It was a weird situation where SG was the only person in my group whom I spoke Mandarin to, but I didn't see a need to change that. My group mates interpreted it as a sign that I had a crush on SG.
I failed Stage 5 and repeated the year by joining the 2015-2020 batch. I wanted to make new friends in the new batch. From the start, I chose to speak to my new Chinese friends in Mandarin so that we could communicate better. Since I didn't know them previously, there wasn't the issue of having to switch languages. Soon, I managed to build a very good relationship with them.
I spoke Mandarin so much more compared to the past 5 years. However, I still communicated with my friends in English whenever we were having group discussions during teaching sessions. NUMed expects students to speak only in English during classes, and we complied with that.
I became a NUMed teaching fellow after I graduated. I didn't know most of my colleagues as they weren't in my group previously. Initially, I spoke to them in English to reflect our professional relationship. However, my Chinese colleagues were speaking in Mandarin at times. I knew that if I wanted to get really close to them, I had to speak to them in Mandarin.
Switching languages was awkward for me, but it was still possible at that time as I wasn't that close to my colleagues. One day when we went for lunch, I started speaking in Mandarin to them and it was well received by them. Since then, I mostly communicated with my Chinese colleagues in Mandarin and we became very close friends. However, we still communicated in English at professional settings.
I have always communicated with my students fully in English during teaching sessions. As the NUMed MBBS course is meant to be delivered entirely in English, it would be unprofessional for me to speak to my students in Mandarin or any other language when teaching.
My most favourite years at NUMed are my teaching fellowship year and my repeat year of Stage 5. Interestingly, these are also the 2 years where I spoke a lot of Mandarin. In these 2 years, I had many friends from other ethnicities as well, and of course I communicated with them in English.
Wednesday, 2 June 2021
How many continents are there in the world?
The most common answer to this question is 7, where the continents are Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Australia and Antartica. Some give 6 or 5 as the answer, where they combine Asia and Europe into Eurasia and/or combine North America and South America into Americas. A few people even say 8, where they consider the mostly submerged Zealandia to be a continent. However, all of the above answers are wrong.
In reality, there's only 3 continents in the world, which are Afro-Eurasia, America and Australia. The proper definition of a continent is a large and continuous landmass with permanent human population and biodiversity.
Asia and Europe are connected to each other over long stretches of land and there's nothing separating them at all, so it makes no sense to consider them as two separate continents.
Asia and Africa are separated only by the Suez Canal, while North America and South America are separated only by the Panama Canal. Since the Suez Canal and Panama Canal are artificial structures, they shouldn't be taken into consideration. Therefore, Asia and Africa are parts of the same continent, while North America and South America form a single America.
By extension, Asia, Europe and Africa form a single continent known as Afro-Eurasia.
In Antarctica, there isn't any permanent human population and there is very limited biodiversity due to the extreme climate. Therefore, Antarctica shouldn't be considered a continent.
Any submerged "continent" and any island smaller than Australia shouldn't be considered a continent. Since Zealandia is mostly underwater except for the islands of New Zealand which collectively are much smaller than Australia, it isn't a continent.
This makes the total number of continents only 3, no more and no less.
Saturday, 8 May 2021
Since I started studying Medicine, I kept being asked this question "What do you want to specialise in?" I had always found this a difficult question to answer. As a matter of fact, I find every specialty interesting in its own way. Choosing a particular specialty means that I would be out of touch with the other specialties. It would be quite boring if I could only be in one specialty.
In 2017, I started considering General Practice as my first choice of specialty. Being the first point of contact for patients, general practitioners get to see cases of all specialties. This is certainly more interesting than being in any other specialty. There's also better work-life balance in General Practice compared to other specialties.
However, I later realised that it isn't easy to specialise in General Practice. The Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) qualification cannot be taken in Malaysia. The only way to do General Practice specialty training in Malaysia is by joining a Masters programme at a public university, which is highly competitive to get in.
In 2019, I had new plans. I decided that after graduating with an MBBS degree, I would pursue Internal Medicine by taking the Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians (MRCP) qualification. Internal Medicine is very broad and it encompasses many specialties. I didn't want to think about any further specialisations after MRCP for the time being.
Now, I have finally decided on what I want to specialise in. It's Medical Education!
My interest in Medical Education isn't new actually. Soon after I began Stage 1 of MBBS, I had observed that the job of the medical lecturers at NUMed is quite interesting. As I had always liked sharing my knowledge with others, teaching medical students is something I would enjoy. Medical lecturers have good work-life balance, and they get to be in touch with all specialties.
Since then, I had been considering the possibility of becoming a medical lecturer. However, there were a few issues. There's a stigma that medical lecturers are "doctors who are bad at clinical practice". This is something even some lecturers have admitted themselves. The society expects medical graduates to become practising doctors.
I was worried that others would view me less favourably if I become a lecturer. I also had the feeling that it would be a waste for me to study MBBS for 6 years only to end up being a lecturer instead of a practising doctor. Consequently, I didn't give any serious thoughts about being a medical lecturer, and I never told anyone about it.
Despite that, my interest in Medical Education remained. It motivated me to apply for the NUMed teaching fellow post, which I succeeded eventually.
Working as a teaching fellow makes me realise how much I love this job. I have always wanted to teach my students as much as possible. I never complain about delivering too many teaching sessions, instead I complain about having too few sessions. While I do feel tired after a long day of teaching, after taking a good rest I am looking forward enthusiastically to more teaching on the next day.
This makes me want to keep working as a medical lecturer in the future. I am very sure that there's no other job in this world that I will enjoy more. If I don't get full support for that, so be it. If some members of the society look down on me, so be it. If I have wasted my 6 years studying for MBBS, so be it. The only thing that matters is for me to do what I really enjoy.
Therefore, I have made the firm decision to pursue Medical Education. This is my one ultimate aim, and I have no second thoughts.
My experience working as a teaching fellow will certainly help me achieve my aim. My application for Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) has been successful. I will go a step further and apply for Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) by October 2021. I will complete my house officer training and take the MRCP as planned, as these are essential for me to become a medical lecturer.
As my teaching fellow post nears an end, no doubt I'm feeling very emotional. However, I'm also hopeful that I will be back again in the future.
Friday, 2 April 2021
I can still remember clearly the first day of my teaching fellow job. You probably would think that the first day was full of excitement for me. After all, I had been hoping to get the teaching fellow post for so long and I finally got it.
However, the reality was different. I actually felt rather stressed at that time, and I was worried that couldn't cope with the job. It also affected my performance during the first week of work. I probably was experiencing what is known as adjustment disorder in psychiatry.
So, why did I have adjustment disorder? There were several factors contributing to that.
The 10 days from 21 September to 30 September had been really busy for me. On 21 and 22 September, I was eagerly waiting to be called for interview. I finally received the interview invitation on 23 September. I went to my other house in Kota Kemuning on 24 September to get a good internet connection for the online interview which was on 25 September. After I succeeded in the interview, I went to Kulim for a night on 26 September to visit my grandparents. On 27 September and 28 September, I was busy arranging my accommodation in Johor Bahru and packing my belongings. I returned to Johor Bahru on 29 September. On 30 September, I attended an induction session with a lecturer. Throughout the 10 days, I didn't have enough rest. Therefore, I was quite exhausted when I began my teaching fellowship on 1 October.
Many of my friends in my 6th year of MBBS had applied for the teaching fellow post. However, only 2 got the post, and I wasn't really close to them at that time. Besides, I didn't know the other 4 of my teaching fellow colleagues at all. I needed time to get to know and get close to my colleagues.
When I moved into my new unit at EcoNest at that time, some of the facilities weren't ready yet. I didn't have a table in my room. That was a real inconvenience, especially when I needed to use my laptop. There was also no water filter in my unit, so I had to keep buying bottled water.
The Covid-19 situation in Malaysia was rapidly worsening at that time, after the Sabah state election. The number of new Covid cases daily went back up to 3 digits, and there were signs that it would continue to increase. I was worried that it would lead to the NUMed campus being required to close again.
While I had been at NUMed for 6 years and I was really familiar with the place, being a teaching fellow is still a very different role from being a student. In addition, this was the first time where I got a job in my life. It took time for me to adjust to my new role.
Since the end of my MBBS final exams in late July, I had been relaxing and doing nothing (except for the 10 busy days). In particular, I slept for as long as I like every day. Getting back to work, even something I really enjoy, was a change that I had to adapt to.
My Pixel 2 phone was having battery issues. There is a repair shop in Johor Bahru which I was confident could fix the problem. I contacted the shop at that time. However, they refused to repair my phone because the Pixel 2 is not officially sold in Malaysia.
Thankfully though, I recovered from the adjustment disorder quickly enough. By the time I started delivering teaching sessions on 5 October, I was really enjoying my teaching fellow post and I no longer felt stressed. Since then, the job has always been enjoyable for me.
Sunday, 14 March 2021
Sunday, 14 February 2021
I failed Stage 5 of my NUMed MBBS course in 2019. You may think it's really unfortunate for me. However, I actually consider it to be a blessing in disguise. Why is that the case?
My position has always been that medical school isn't just about getting to the destination, but also about making the most out of the journey. Therefore, I have always wanted to enjoy every moment and to have a lot of good memories in NUMed. In particular, I definitely want my final year to be enjoyable, since it's the year that I will remember most after I graduate.
Stage 4 had been a wonderful year for me, and I was hoping that Stage 5 would be even better. A week before I began Stage 5 in late August 2018, the student group list for semester 1 was released. Looking at it, I thought that Stage 5 would be a great year for me.
Semester 1 of Stage 5 turned out to be really enjoyable. In fact, it was a whole new experience for me compared to the previous years. I loved the group I was in so much, and I really hoped that I would get to be in the same group for semester 2. In the end, my wish was granted, the student grouping remained the same for semester 2.
The beginning of semester 2 was just like semester 1, I had a really great time. The thought of having to separate with everyone when we graduate in a few months time made me feel very sad, so I made sure to treasure every moment I had with my group.
However, a tragedy happened on 27 February 2019 which led to a huge crisis. That changed everything. Out of sudden, the remainder of Stage 5 became so dull and so meaningless. Worse still, the good memories I had during semester 1 of Stage 5 also became meaningless because of that. Essentially, there was nothing left in Stage 5 that I would consider as good memories.
It didn't help that some of the people in the group I loved so much actually contributed to the tragedy and they also had some part in perpetuating the crisis. Even though the crisis got resolved eventually, things wouldn't be the same ever again. There was no way I could have any more good memories with that group.
Perhaps I should have moved to a different group. However, I was already in my last rotation, so it was very unlikely that NUMed would allow a group change. Even if I could switch to another group, with only a few weeks remaining in Stage 5 and everyone focusing on the final exams, I would only have little time with the new group.
At that point, it seemed like I was destined to graduate without any good memories in Stage 5. That would be really sad as I knew I would often think back of Stage 5 after graduating. I thought, if only I could have another year at NUMed with a new group of people, how great that would be.
I really regretted my actions that led to the whole crisis, but unfortunately it was already too late. In early April 2019, I began doing revision for the final exams. However, I couldn't really concentrate on doing revision as I was affected by the crisis.
At that time, NUMed opened the application for the 2019/2020 teaching fellow post. I thought of applying for it, but the crisis made me lose my self-confidence. Someone in my group also hinted that I shouldn't bother applying as I wouldn't stand a chance of getting the post. In the end, I didn't make an application, which I later regretted.
The Stage 5 final results was released in June 2019. It turned out that I failed the End of Stage MOSLER, which meant failing Stage 5 as a whole. Consequently, I had to repeat Stage 5 by joining the 2015-2020 batch. I didn't expect to fail, and I was so sad about that.
Then I realised something. By repeating Stage 5, I would get what I had wanted: An extra year at NUMed with a whole new group of people. I decided that I would make the most out of the opportunity to have good memories with them. That helped make me feel better about my failure.
Everyone else in my group passed successfully, so they would no longer be with me during my repeat year of Stage 5. After the whole crisis resulting from the 27 February 2019 tragedy, I certainly wouldn't feel sad about having to separate with them.
I began my repeat year of Stage 5 in late August 2019. I started making new friends in the new batch. I had never been more excited to make new friends, as in the past I had always tended to only mix with the people I knew well. I also sought to make myself a better person, who would be looked up to by my new friends.
In my repeat year of Stage 5, I have some really nice friends who give me a great experience throughout the year. I definitely have a lot of good memories with them, and that enabled me to fully move on from the 27 February 2019 tragedy. This year is surely very much better than my first year of Stage 5.
After I successfully passed my repeat year of Stage 5 in August 2020, I applied for the 2020/2021 NUMed teaching fellow post. Thanks to the experience I gained from teaching my friends during the repeat year of Stage 5, I successfully got offered the teaching fellow post.
Throughout my teaching fellowship at NUMed, I really enjoy teaching my students and they like my teaching too. I also have a very good relationship with my teaching fellow colleagues. I certainly have lots of great memories with my students and colleagues.
Now, I can say that it's definitely a blessing in disguise for me to fail and repeat Stage 5. My most favourite years in NUMed are my repeat year of Stage 5 and my teaching fellowship year, which wouldn't have happened if I passed Stage 5 the first time. I will keep remembering the great memories in these two years for a very long time to come. A small price to pay for salvation!
Thursday, 7 January 2021
14 March 2019 was during my 5th year of MBBS. A tragedy had happened about 2 weeks ago which triggered a crisis. Since then, the situation had been improving and I was quite hopeful that everything would return to normal soon. However on that day, I realised that I just screwed up once again, triggering the 2nd wave of the crisis. I wasn't sure what I actually did wrong, and my group mates who knew what happened refused to tell me about it. Worse still, my group mates made a one-sided judgement about me and didn't give me the opportunity to explain. The 2nd wave of the crisis made the remainder of 5th year so dull and meaningless and it ruined most of my memories in that year. The crisis got resolved eventually, but that didn't have any long-term significance.
14 March 2020 was during my 6th year of MBBS. The Covid-19 pandemic had begun some time ago. On the week before that, I and my group mates were posted to Kluang. We had a great time there and I was really looking forward to our second week in Kluang. However on that day, NUMed announced the cancellation of all clinical placements due to the rapidly worsening Covid-19 situation. I could no longer go to Kluang in the following week because of that, which made me feel really sad. Worse still, later on that day I and my group mates were told that we got exposed to a Covid-19 patient when we were in Kluang, which required us to undergo home quarantine for 2 weeks. Soon afterwards, NUMed cancelled all campus teaching due to the implementation of the MCO. As a result, I couldn't meet my friends for several months. Campus teaching eventually resumed in early July 2020, but only for 2 weeks.