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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