On April 21, 2018, the students of Kolej Kediaman Ibnu Sina (KKIS, a college within Universiti Malaya) organized their medical conference MEDxUM for the first time at the Faculty of Medicine. The conference attracted 300 junior doctors, medicine students and pre-medical students from all over Malaysia.
The Pengetua (College Supervisor) of KKIS, Associate Professor Dr Noor Zurani Md Haris Robson pointed out that MEDxUM was timely, considering the many uncertainties that face Malaysian medical graduates today. With the number of medical graduates still outnumbering the number of housemanship positions available, recent medical graduates face more uncertain prospects compared to graduates from ten years ago. “[KKSI] came up with this idea to organise an event that can help clear these doubts and provide medical students a clearer picture on what the future holds in medicine,” she said.
Hence, the theme of the conference: “High School, Med School, What’s Next?”
Presenting the keynote speech was Y Bhg Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Director General of Health. During his speech, titled “Quantity over Quantity”, he remarks that medical professionals tend to operate in silos. “What we need is a bird’s eye view to an approach in medicine,” he said. “As doctors we aim to deliver beyond expectations, so that we can build trust with our patients. We need to engage with them and make them feel us. We don’t always have to say anything. We just have to make sure our head and heart is there for them.”
With regards to the unusual wording of his speech title, he clarified the following: “We currently lack specialists, so to increase the number of specialists we need to increase the number of medical and house officers. That is what I mean by quantity over quantity, not just quality over quantity because we need the numbers. What we aim is to have a larger pool of doctors, so that the crème de la crème will be chosen as specialists. To achieve this, we have come up with parallel and alternative pathways in order to train our doctors.”
One such pathway is that of an academic clinical specialist, which was taken by the Director of University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), YM Professor Dr Tunku Kamarul Zaman Tunku Zainol Abidin. “People ask me why I chose to join academia on top of my medical career. For me, sometimes, it’s not about the money, it’s about the drive,” he told the attendants.
He also elaborated on how the new syllabus of the University of Malaya Programme reflects the sentiments espoused by Dr Noor Hisham in his keynote speech. “[The new syllabus] emphasizes a lot on self-reflection. Reflection is a part and parcel of modern education. This is to allow us to look back and see if the choices we made in life are the right choices.”
After the opening session, participants were separated into different rooms for talks on different medical specializations. Director of MEDxUM, Abdul Kadir Shah Bin Sahibudeen explained that this arrangement allowed participants to become well-informed about what each specialization has to offer.
Additionally, a forum entitled “Reality of Housemanship: Challenges and Opportunities” was presented in the afternoon by UMMC’s general medicine specialist, Dr Tan Guo Jeng and Hospital Melaka’s medical officer, Dr Mohd Iliyas. They answered the attendants’ questions on the issues related to housemanship as well as shared their own housemanship experiences.
The conference ended with a session on scholarship opportunities and contract system in medicine, conducted by representatives of the Public Services Department (JPA).
MEDxUM was officiated by Y Bhg Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. Also present at the conference were fellows of KKIS, clinical specialists and students. MIMS
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