A doctor! A healer! A time-honoured ancient profession. Why Medicine? I am in awe of Medicine’s capabilities and evolution. Multiorgan transplantation, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), robotic laparoscopic surgery, positron emission tomography (PET), stem cell research, etc. The list goes on. Medicine is a vocation that I have long dreamt of practising. The idea of being able to help ill people and relieve the physical and mental problems of the sick moves me. I have always envisioned myself doing that.
I want to study medicine, for the simple reason that I would like to ‘help’ people. That may seem like an overrated word but it is the essence of my interest in medicine. Medicine, I think, is both a science and an art. Its science based on method, process, analysis and emperical evidence while its art thrives on innovation, lateral thinking and creativity. The best doctors therefore are equally right and left brained individuals who balance the orthodoxy and tradition of medicine with an originality and inventiveness.
Hippocrates, the greatest physician of his time rejected illness to be caused by superstitions, evil spirits and disfavor of the gods but believed in a physical and rational explanation. Doctoring is never just a ‘job’, it is a way of life catalyzing the wonder of healing. A friend of my father, Professor Chua Kaw Beng visited us shortly after his work on the discovery of Nipah Virus in 2002. Professor Chua is a pediatrician turned virologist who received the Charles C Shepard Science Award (USA) for his effort on the Nipah Virus in 2005.
I was inspired by his story of venturing into the jungle at dawn to collect bat urine specimens for his work with his team. Their elation with the confirmation from Centre of Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta that it was a new virus is certainly touching. Medicine deals with people, not just cases or numbers. I have had the good fortune of doing a clinical attachment with my father who is a consultant general surgeon in Kuching, Malaysia in mid 2005. I saw the practice of Medicine in real life which was both exciting and exhausting.
I have learnt the importance of putting myself in the patients’ situation to understand what they had to go through. A patient there kindly allowed me to take the last Mitchell clips off her thyroidectomy wound under supervision. That was my first medical experience and I will cherish it forever. Medicine is team work. It needs the integration of all medical and surgical disciplines. My background of Head Prefect and Captain in various games in school helps me to appreciate team work, to be assertive, to listen to others and to communicate efficiently. Let there be no illusion.
Medicine requires dedication, hard work, sacrifices and perseverance. There are the long years of undergraduate studies followed by residency trainings and specialist examinations. There are the on-call requirements and the long hours of duty. I am personally aware of the sacrifices necessary before and after graduation and I stand undaunted. Competitive sport, besides teaching me the value of teamwork, has taught me to persevere and to strive for success; ‘no pain, no gain’. In the words of the Comte De Buffon, “Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.
” Given the opportunity, I aim to be a medical doctor and wish to be trained as a virologist thus enabling me to contribute in the discovery of the incoming viral diseases and their vaccines. I am also interested in the specialist fields of immunology and pathology. I believe in small steps to cross large mountains. It is from idealism like this that Medecins Sans Frontieres was founded and flourishes. I am confident that I have the ability and the perseverance to study and practice medicine. I want to be a medical doctor for the privilege of helping others. I want to serve my country and humanity and will try my best to make both proud.