Friday, November 29, 2013

Five reasons why I am teaching in a medical school

I have never visualized myself as a medical educator. I always thought that I will practise medicine until I cannot practise anymore and they will drag me feet first from the hospital. So when Monash University from Australia first explored setting up a medical school campus in Malaysia with its clinical school in Johor Bahru, I attended their first meeting in Johor Bahru in 2005 more out of curiosity than anything else. Things moved rapidly after that and before I knew it I was signed on as a teacher and the first batch of students started arriving in 2007. The first classrooms and lecture halls were located in the renovated Hospital Sultanah Aminah's administration block. Subsequently as the student population increased, more classrooms appeared in the rented Hokkien Association Building until the present ultra-modern looking faculty building was built.

I was recently given recognition and award as one of the pioneer faculty of the clinical school. It was nice of the University to do so. The occasion gives me an opportunity to reflect on why I am involved in teaching in a medical school when I am already so busy with my private medical practice and other stuff. Here are five reasons why I am there.

  1. Teaching - I always thought of myself as a lover of learning so it was a surprise to discover that I also have a passion to teach. As I begin to interact with students, I find that I enjoy their interactions, their hunger to know more, and their willingness to experiment with different modes of learning. This is an eyeopener for me as it exposes me to the newer technologies and interconnectiveness of the era. I am still amused by a class discussion where there were 8 students and 8 open laptops and nobody was talking to each other. I also discovered that Dr Google is their new best friend. When I asked them a question they immediately asked Dr Google! It was their youthful enthusiasm for life that bowled me over. They makes me feel younger with their zeal for life.
  2. Sharing the hard knocks- in medicine we learn much more from our failures than from our successes. After three decades of practising medicine, I have collected enough hard knocks to share with these young aspiring doctors so that they do not (hopefully) have to repeat these same mistakes. These hard knocks are earned with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
  3. Practising the art of medicine - the science of medicine is usually the concern of most students as they have to assimilate enormous amount of information in their course. Medicine is as much an art as it is a science. The art of medicine comes from practice, reflection and the intrinsic character of the doctor. There is a integrity demanded from medical practitioners in order to be successful healers. Medicine is never a business.
  4. Learning from my students - my students are teaching me more that they suspected. From them I learnt about the latest academic writings, their hopes and aspirations, and the way to adapt to change as a constant in their lives.
  5. Medical legacy - medicine is built upon the foundations of apprenticeship/mentoring. As I  looked back in my career, there have been many doctors who have influenced, challenged, and molded me to be a better doctor and subsequently a better person. To them I owe a great debt of gratitude. I will like to repay that debt by continuing this medical legacy.
The challenge in Malaysia with its large numbers of medical schools is to find excellent, committed competent doctors who are willing to sacrifice their time and money (to some, time is money) to teach the new generations of young doctors the art and science of medicine. Woe to the people of Malaysia if it is flooded with a large number of poorly trained doctors with their licences to 'kill' instead of heal.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Storm

The Storm
Reflections before Advent 2014

The storm crashed into a heart filled with pain,
tons of water flattening the dead and maimed,
waters that save will also destroy.
The eddy current in the heart causes consternation,
what to do, what to do, cries with aggravation,
clear clean water now murky and dark.

The storm smashes innocence and let in darkness,
tears mixes with salt water, colour into blackness,
on a face lined with despair.
Gale force wind chill into a soul’s grounds,
sputtering and gasping as one drowns,
watches in despair as the ship goes down.

The storm blows on, and the year wears on,
come month’s end and Advent’s dawn,
will the portal opens for homecoming?
Living waters from the wellspring of one’s core,
will you offers satiation to the thirsty once more?
and destroy the beast that ambles toward Jerusalem.



Saturday, November 02, 2013

All That Matters

Cliff Richard: The 40th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1998. One of the songs sung by Cliff Richard was All That Matters. The lyrics truck a chord in me.

 The love in you and the love in me, is all that matters
All the rest is vanity
That time will shatter
The only treasure in the life we live, is the measure of the love we give
All that matters in the end will beThe love in you and the love in me, that's all that matters

Every heart must change it's shapeTo fit the space a lifetime makes
Some regrets and some mistakes
We touch happiness but we can't hold her
Feelings come and then disappear I know the laughter,I've cried those tears I should know better after all these years
But I'm no wiser, I'm just older

It's all a question of priorityWe've got so much that we just don't need
But if it ain't got love then it's luxury
We can learn to live without it

lyrics by Paul Field