A short but unique experience

Three students receive MBBS Bursaries and gain experiences from internship with the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

3 February 2016

Having an educational experience is common. Students benefit mostly by being able to put what they learned into action. The Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) Young Scholars Program (YSP) was introduced with this concept in mind.

A short-termed internship program, YSP is offered to the most academically outstanding MBBS applicants before the course begins. The four-month program offers unique experiences to applicants, where they have the opportunity to be involved in some of the research projects at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences (JCSMHS).

Early exposure to the research culture and the climate of learning, as well as working in cutting-edge medical facilities give students a greater appreciation for medical research and innovations which continue to shape the medical profession.

Candidates are paired with supervisors, receiving one-on-one supervision as they embark on research which includes brain, cancer, public health, non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases, to name a few. In addition to close supervision, students are also exposed to the various research methodologies through weekly sessions.

“This year we had seven highly driven and deserving young scholars that completed the program with excellent outcomes. I have no doubt that their journey through the MBBS program at Monash Malaysia, will be equally successful. This program continues to attract and retain highly ambitious medical students into our medical program,” said YSP supervisor, Associate Professor Amudha Kadirvelu.

At the recent presentation, three YSP graduates, Calvin Leong Kah Chuen, Tan Qing-Yi and Jaspreet Kaur Sekhon, were also chosen to receive the MBBS Bursaries. Each bursary provides students with a total of RM50,000 (RM10,000 per year over a 5-year study period), for the Monash MBBS program.

When asked why he got involved in the YSP program, Leong shared that he wanted to find out what research is all about as well as meet a few coursemates, before the semester commences. He said that he was not disappointed with his decision to be part of the YSP. “I was assigned to a Public Health Project which involved using video streaming to teach practical skills to health workers. It was cool because I found out that it was the first time anyone has done it, and I was honoured to be a part of it. In the project, I was given the responsibility of assisting in organising workshops, doing write-ups and writing research papers - one of which was even published in a conference!” he said.

Tan on the other hand, was involved in a public health project to assess the awareness and use of electronic cigarettes among university students. “It was truly a great experience. I learned valuable skills such as citing research references, designing questionnaire, literature search, data entry and analysis. This research program also trained me to practice good time management, as I have to juggle between the project and activities allocated for young scholars.” she stated. According to her, the early exposure to the Monash environment and research culture has prepared her for the course which is set to begin in March 2016.

Like Leong, Jaspreet set out to do something productive and worthwhile before the MBBS course commenced. She knew that research is and will always be an important aspect of the medical field, and was very much interested in seeing how it was carried out. She said: “I was assigned to BRIMS under Dr Satoshi Ogawa. Our research was focused more towards a certain region of the brain called the habenula which is important in the study of psychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression. Our goal was to observe an association between serotonin or dopamine with protein receptor GPR-151, of which the function is unknown. We also studied the effect of oestrogen on stress levels of adult zebrafish. We were fully hands-on with our experiments and were taught briefly before doing it on our own. We definitely had to pick up certain skills quickly. I also learned that a lot of discipline and perseverance is needed when conducting your own research experiments.”

The young scholars expressed that Monash University’s excellent QS ranking, state of the art facilities such as table-top computers and conducive environment was what made them choose to pursue a MBBS degree in Monash Malaysia.