Tragic accident inspires Vivien to take up medicine


  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 17 Jul 2019

Vivien (second right) surrounded by her father Sang Huat, mother Khoo Poh Ann and sister Adeline Tan Chern Hui at the ceremony.

IT was a proud moment for 86 medical students of RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus (RUMC) who received their scrolls at the university’s first conferring ceremony at Bayview Beach Resort.

The graduates were awarded the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Bachelor of Obstetrics (MB BCH BAO) degree by the globally recognised National University of Ireland.

Among the graduates was valedictorian Vivien Tan Chern Yong, who was inspired to pursue a career in medicine when she witnessed a horrific accident a few years ago.

“I saw a body lying on the ground. At that time, I wished I had the capabilities to help,” she said.

Vivien, who won first place in the final examinations and in the subjects of medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology also thanked her parents for their relentless support and encouragement.

“We would not be here today without our parents. We have been preparing for five years for this day, but our parents have been preparing for more than 20 years to see us in graduation gowns,” she said.

Her father Sang Huat, who was also present, said his daughter initially showed no interest to pursue medicine.

(From left) Prize winners Jason, Vivien, Otitolola and Divya.
(From left) Prize winners Jason, Vivien, Otitolola and Divya.

“My wife and I were getting quite worried when she could not decide on a course.

“We tried to guide her and encourage her to pursue medicine, but she has always been reluctant.

“She even said she did not want to pursue medicine because she did not like seeing blood.

“But the accident that she witnessed truly changed her mind. It was then she decided to pursue medicine, and she hadn’t looked back ever since,” he said.

Bagging the award for first place in paediatrics and psychiatry was Oloruntunmike Otitolola from Nigeria, who took up medicine after seeing the state of her home country’s healthcare system.

“People die from various preventable causes.

“In the long term, I plan to get involved in health policy-making towards advancing healthcare systems of developing countries.”

Otitolola also said she planned to widen her horizons by taking up a job in the UK.

Jason Teoh, who won first place in family medicine, said he decided to pursue medicine when his uncle was diagnosed with triple-vessel disease.

The freshly conferred doctor aspires to be a surgeon and hopes to specialise in cardiothoracic surgery.

Another prize winner, Divya Gautam from India, who bagged this year’s Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society’s Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Book Prize, plans to apply for obstetrics and gynaecology residency matching programme.

In the meantime, Divya said she would continue her work and research with the World Interdisciplinary Forum for Healthcare.

RUMC’s vice-president of academic affairs and registrar Prof David Whitford said RUMC graduates were equipped with the knowledge of the Malaysian healthcare system, thanks to the immersive clinical training.

“Starting one’s journey in medicine at RUMC is a memorable one. Not only do students reap the benefits from a best-of-both-worlds experience, but they are assured a quality education in their formative years, which is essential in the making of an outstanding doctor.

“These young doctors are ready to take on their two-year housemanship stint,” Whitford said.

Established in 1996 as Penang Medical College, RUMC is the first Irish Foreign University Branch Campus (FUBC) in Malaysia.

Students are required to undertake a two-and-a-half-year pre-clinical study at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) or University College Dublin (UCD) before returning to Penang for a two-and-a-half year clinical training at Penang Hospital, Seberang Jaya Hospital and Taiping Hospital.

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