Becoming a Doctor was Aspiration since Young – Dr Sarah Amira, Class of 2022

Medicine is is a field where individuals are exposed to various challenges and struggles that teach them to be strong – mentally, emotionally and physically. As an aspiring doctor who would like to venture into the journey of Medicine, it is important to remember that learning is the key foundation which helps you in moving forward despite all odds.

Dr Sarah Amira Binti Ahmad Hazri was one of the graduates of RUMC’s Class of 2022. She recently graduated during the University’s 22nd Conferring Ceremony held at Bayview Beach Resort, Batu Feringghi, Penang. Read on to find out more about Dr Sarah and her aspiration to pursue Medicine at RUMC.

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am turning 25 years old this year and am the youngest of 2 siblings. I was born in Glasgow, Scotland and currently living in Shah Alam with both my parents. At the age of 16, I went to a boarding school in Kelantan and took my SPM in which I scored straight A’s. I then did International Baccalaureate (IB) in Kolej MARA Seremban and scored 42/45 points.

At the age of 20, I enrolled into the RUMC Medicine programme and started my first year of medical school at RCSI, Dublin. Aside from academic hustle, I spent the last few years developing an interest in fashion and beauty. I enjoy dressing up and occasionally helping my friends do make-up for events. I also love hiking and when my motivation is at the fullest, I would routinely work out and jog. My other hobby is lots and lots of shopping.

Q: What inspired you to pursue your journey in Medicine at RUMC?

All I know is I’ve always wanted to be a doctor since primary school and I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to be. The fact that my brother also pursued his studies in Medicine gave me more courage and he was my inspiration. I chose RUMC because I know Ireland has a good reputation as a destination to study Medicine. However, I’d still prefer doing my clinical years in Malaysia to be familiar with our local healthcare system and the patients here. Hence, I felt the transnational programme offered by RUMC would be the best choice for me.

Q: Could you share a little bit about your Dublin experience?

My pre-clinical years in Dublin were amazing. Although it was my first time being far away from family, I was blessed with good people around me. Of course, there were times that I was homesick as I am a very family-oriented person. However, I was able to cope well. My favourite part was being able to travel to different countries and explore new things. Admittedly, pre-clinical years were slightly less stressful so we gained valuable experiences enjoying our time in Dublin.

Q: How was the transition into Clinical Years in Penang for you?

I would describe the Clinical years in RUMC as a roller coaster of emotions. The main challenge was the COVID-19 pandemic and countless restriction orders. But, lecturers and friends were beyond supportive and I’m forever grateful for that. Despite having limited clinical experience due to the pandemic, all lecturers put their utmost effort into making sure we get the most out of it. Clinical teaching in Penang, Seberang Jaya and Taiping Hospitals was very helpful for all of us.

Apart from that, getting used to online classes, online study groups, smaller sub-groups and new SOPs were among the things that we had to adjust to and I think all my batch mates did pretty well. Although we did not get to experience campus life to the fullest for the past 2 and half years because of the pandemic, we still managed to travel outside of Penang, and explore what Penang has to offer. It has been quite an adventurous journey for me and a memorable one too.

Q: You won the 2022 RUMC Awards for First Place in Public Health and Otolaryngology and also made it to the Dean’s List. How do you feel about this?

To be honest, I was quite shocked in the beginning, but this was among my dreams and something I have always wanted to achieve so I was really happy and humbled to receive them.

Q: As a medical student, how do you find the balance between academic, social life and extracurricular activities?

It wasn’t easy to find a balance but I always made sure I do. Despite the academic challenge, I would always find time to socialise with family and friends, do outdoor activities like hiking, running, playing badminton and keep up with Netflix series. The key is to always know studying is our priority and plan everything else around it.

I always find revising beforehand and focusing in class and during clinical teaching very helpful. It makes it easy to remember what you have learnt and when it comes to revision time, you don’t have to spend too much time on one topic. Another important thing is to plan your day. Have a list of tasks to complete and try your best to tick everything off.

Q: What do you think is the most important quality to have to be a successful medical student and eventually a doctor?

Professionalism and good behaviour. Anyone can score in exams but I strongly believe professionalism and good behaviour are the keys to being a successful medical student and doctor.

Q: Could you share some words of encouragement to aspiring doctors who are planning to study at RUMC?

Be professional, study smart and trust the process. It is not an easy journey and it’s not going to be smooth. There are times you might question your decision to pursue this course but never lose your focus and keep going. It’s helpful to talk to seniors, ask for tips from them and listen to their experiences. Find a good coping mechanism and surround yourself with good people. You’ll be fine and I hope all your hard work will be worth it!

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