Hi! My name is Daniel Lim Jhao Jian. Here is where I share my experience, knowledge and ideas. You are welcome to leave comments and follow my blog. You are free to copy anything from this blog. Please recommend this blog to your friends.

Saturday 8 May 2021

Medical Education: My way forward

Since I started studying MBBS, I kept being asked this question "What do you want to specialise in?" I never had an answer to this question previously. Now, I have finally decided on what I want to specialise in. It's Medical Education!

Back in Stage 1 of MBBS, I had been finding the job of a Medical Lecturer quite interesting based on my observation of the lecturers at NUMed. As I had always liked sharing my knowledge with others, teaching medical students is something I would enjoy. Medical Lecturers also have great work-life balance. Later, I found out that to become a Medical Lecturer, we must have Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) Full Registration, which requires completing housemanship.

During Stage 2 of MBBS, I discovered the truth about housemanship in Malaysia for the first time, that House Officers often face bullying, heavy workload and long working hours, often missing out on meals and sleep. Worse still, housemanship in Malaysia almost certainly would remain 2 years long for the foreseeable future rather than being shortened to 1 year as previously rumoured. That made me start fearing housemanship a lot, and I wished I would never have to go through it. Later, due to me finding the topics in Stage 2 of MBBS extremely tedious, I lost interest in MBBS and I even thought of quitting.

After I got into Stage 3 of MBBS, I regained my interest in studying MBBS and I no longer wanted to quit. However, there was an important caveat: I was firm on not wanting to join housemanship after graduating, due to the terrible working conditions of housemanship. While I was confident that my MBBS degree would be accepted by many employers outside the medical field, the question was what job should I apply for? I struggled to think of a non-medical job that I would truly enjoy. Becoming a Medical Lecturer wouldn't be an option for me even though I found it interesting, since it requires completing housemanship.

In late February 2019 when I was in Stage 5 of MBBS, a tragedy happened which then led to me having a huge crisis with my group mates in the 2014-2019 batch. The crisis completely ruined my experience for the remainder of Stage 5 and made most of my good memories in Stage 5 before that meaningless. I was so depressed and I couldn't focus on my studies. Eventually, I failed my final exams in June 2019 by just 1 mark. That meant I failed Stage 5 as a whole and had to repeat the year.

For my repeat year of Stage 5, I put in my efforts to get to know and build a good relationship with my new friends in the 2015-2020 batch. I sought to make myself a better person so that my new friends would look up onto me. I wanted to have great memories with them and erase my bad memories from the previous year. By December 2019, I had become very close to them. In early March 2020, we were posted to Kluang for a week. There, we could spend some good time together for the first time and I cherished it so much.

I really looked forward to our second week in Kluang. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic started at that time and the MCO was implemented, resulting in the cancellation of all clinical postings and campus teaching, and all teaching sessions were moved online. Not only I missed out on the week in Kluang with my friends, I couldn't even see them in person. Worse still, it seemed that the MCO would last till the end of the academic year, meaning that I wouldn't get to meet my friends again as we would have graduated by then. I felt so emotional about that.

In April 2020, one of my friends created a WhatsApp group for those who were interested in applying for the NUMed Teaching Fellow post for the following academic year. As I was interested in Medical Education, I joined the WhatsApp group. To my delight, several of my friends in the 2015-2020 batch were interested in applying as well. I thought, if I get the Teaching Fellow post, I would get to be with my friends for the upcoming year, replacing the time lost due to the MCO. I told myself that I must work hard to get the post. In August 2020, I successfully graduated with the MBBS degree.

In September 2020, the application for the Teaching Fellow post was finally open. After putting in my best efforts to write a good CV and personal statement and to perform well in the interview, I succeeded in getting a 9-month Teaching Fellow post. However, I soon found out that among my friends who applied for the Teaching Fellow post, only 2 succeeded in getting a place and both of them weren't that close to me at that time. There were several other friends closer to me whom I hoped would get a place, but they didn't. I was a bit disappointed, and that contributed to me experiencing a brief period of adjustment disorder when I started the Teaching Fellow post in October 2020, during which I felt a bit stressed and didn't appear so enthusiastic about the job.

Nevertheless, my interest in Medical Education gave me the confidence that the job would still be enjoyable for me. Indeed, after I started delivering teaching sessions as a Teaching Fellow, I realised how much I loved teaching. I got out of the adjustment disorder quickly enough. I already could teach quite well from the first teaching session. As I gained more teaching experience over time, my teaching skills improved. I always sought to deliver my teaching such that my students would find it interesting and easy to understand. I took every feedback from my students seriously, as I was eager to improve my teaching. Later, I started becoming very close to my Teaching Fellow colleagues, which made me enjoy the job even more.

Every day, I was looking forward to teaching my students, and I always wanted to teach them as much as possible. Whenever I was allocated a teaching session, I would feel so enthusiastic about it. Conversely, when some of the teaching sessions were cancelled due to the Covid-19, I was so disappointed about that. I never complained about having too many teaching sessions, instead I complained about having too few teaching sessions. The Teaching Fellow job has evolved from something that I hope would give me the opportunity to be with my friends to something that I truly love on its own right.

Soon, I loved Medical Education so much that I want to keep working as a Medical Lecturer for the rest of my life. I knew pretty well that to become a Medical Lecturer, I must have MMC Full Registration which requires completing housemanship. Considering how stressful housemanship is and that I didn't want to join housemanship since a long time ago, the question was whether it's worth it for me to do housemanship just so that I could become a Medical Lecturer? I hesitated on that for quite some time.

In early May 2021, I firmly decided that the answer is a yes, as it's so clear that there's no job in this world other than a Medical Lecturer that I would enjoy more. Pursuing Medical Education is my one ultimate aim, and I have no second thoughts. I decided I must maximise my chances of completing housemanship successfully by choosing a hospital with a less stressful work environment. When my Teaching Fellow post ended in July 2021, no doubt I was feeling very emotional. However, I was also hopeful that it wouldn't be too long before I return as a Medical Lecturer.

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. Some people also think that it would be a waste for me to study MBBS for 6 years only to end up being a lecturer instead of a clinical doctor. But I don't bother about that at all. If I don't get full support for my decision, 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.

My experience working as a Teaching Fellow and my Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) qualifications will certainly help me achieve my dream of becoming a Medical Lecturer. I must persevere with housemanship no matter how challenging it is, as that's essential for me to become a Medical Lecturer.

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  1. Good to hear that, Dr. Daniel. I was just taught by you once, which was during the CVS, and straight away your likability points +999 in my heart. The CVS session, unwittingly, was the last physical class of my Year 1 journey, so gutted for not being able to be taught by you and talk to you more. Anyway, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

    1. I'm glad to know that you liked my teaching session. I too wish I could've taught you more. All the best for your exams!

  2. This narrative about the medical specialty choice is truly captivating. The author shares their journey from considering General Practice to ultimately discovering a passion for Medical Education. Despite initial concerns about potential stigmas associated with not being a practicing doctor, they found genuine fulfillment as an educator. The story conveys a resolute decision to pursue the path of Medical Education, even in the face of possible criticism. It serves as a reminder of the importance of following what truly brings joy, beyond external expectations. An inspiration for those seeking their true calling, with implicit connections to the realm of Internal Medicine. Thank you, and I invite you to my site to learn more about internal medicine: My site.