The Covid-19 global pandemic has forced us to turn to our healthcare frontliners for help and hope.
Recognising that medical professionals need to be prepared to deal with global crises, the University of Cyberjaya (UoC) ensures all its MBBS students are exposed to the Disaster Relief and Medicine (DRM) programme – one of the few universities in the region to provide such training for MBBS students to develop leadership skills in unprecedented circumstances.
The MBBS programme at UoC has produced 1,341 doctors, most of whom are now specialists. As they move forward in their careers, the alumni gives back to society by utilising their special skills learnt in the DRM programme.
“I remember my lecturer saying that we will face a lot of obstacles and struggles in our medical career, but we were told to face them with patience, ” said Dr Aziezah Norul Anhar who graduated from UoC in 2016.
Dr Aziezah is currently serving in anaesthesiology and intensive care at Hospital Putrajaya. When Covid-19 cases started to rise in Malaysia, she was requested to serve at Sungai Buloh Hospital.
UoC’s MBBS students are exposed to an outdoor training exercise whereby they are required to perform relief responses on the field including setting up and managing a field hospital and handling victims in a simulated disaster situation.
The experience certainly benefited alumna Dr Atiqah Shakira Azmy who also graduated in 2016, as she was assigned to the quarantine and treatment centre for low-risk Covid-19 cases at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) for one month.
Now a medical officer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Klang, Dr Atiqah shared how her job has changed following the pandemic.
“In the past, those with fever, cough and runny nose were treated as patients with respiratory tract infection. Now, they have to undergo a cascade of procedures to rule out Covid-19, ” she said.
Joining her on the frontline was fellow 2016 graduate Dr Amirul Azhar Zulkifli, who served in anesthesiology and critical care. He was part of the Covid-19 ICU team that provided critical care to Covid-19 patients who required ventilatory support as well as those with multi-organ failure.
“Doctors will never be obsolete, and the pandemic has shown everyone how important doctors are. Somebody’s got to do the job, but not everyone can. It’s my social responsibility to contribute, ” said Dr Amirul.
UoC’s Faculty of Medicine is headed by Maj Gen (Rtd) Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Zin Bidin, a former senior medical officer who served with the Navy and Air Force, after which he was chief doctor at the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix.
“Disaster management aims to reduce potential losses from hazards, offers appropriate assistance and achieve rapid recovery, ” he said about DRM, adding that students who undergo the programme are better equipped to deal with disasters in a calm and collected manner.
Year Five MBBS student Alina Omar said: “I was sleeping in an outdoor tent and was awakened in the middle of the night by the trainers. We had to quickly collect ourselves and respond to a simulated natural disaster while fighting off sleepiness and fatigue. That experience made me appreciate the role that medical professionals play.”
In addition to field training, UoC MBBS students also take part in an annual international humanitarian programme that has in the past brought them to earthquake and flash flood zones in Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
In this programme, students are exposed to relief operations as well as humanitarian aid by working alongside NGOs and local villagers to provide medical services, community assistance and delivery of provisions.
Ahmad Muizzuddin, a final year MBBS student who was in at least three of these international missions, shared his experiences: “Communication is a key skill for medical professionals, as you never know which community you will be called to serve. Different groups of people and different cultures will present different challenges. You must always be prepared.”
To find out more about the MBBS programme at the University of Cyberjaya and to hear more stories from alumni, professors and current students on how they are moving forward in their careers while giving back to society, visit www.cyberjaya.edu.my/mbbs, Whatsapp 011-1112 3344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org