JCSMHS at 10 years

The Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Monash University Malaysia celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year.

While its decade-long existence is a time to celebrate the school’s achievements, it is also a time for reflection on its successes and identifying future steps to ensure the school’s growth.

Professor Dr Shah Yasin, Head of School for the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Monash University Malaysia explained that the school has come a long way since its inception and has seen a number of batches of graduates.

Describing the anniversary as a milestone, Prof Shah explained that it was also an important time for the school to check how things are going and think of where they want to go next.

He added that the first 10 years have been about building a medical program and developing a research culture within the School.

Achievements

“In the last 10 years, we have started producing some top students,” said Prof Shah, adding that for two consecutive years in 2012 and 2013 the top student for the whole course comprising 125 student in Malaysia and over 350 student in Australia were Malaysians, from Monash Malaysia.

“This is a clear indication that we are producing high-quality doctors who are as good as any in Australia and the world. It is also an indication of the standards and quality of our graduates.”

The medical course at JCSMHS is accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC), making it the first medical program fully conducted in Malaysia, to be accredited by a foreign medical accreditation council. It is also accredited by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).

The school uses a holistic approach to education and exposes students to international, public and private healthcare systems. This includes postings in highly regarded private hospitals in Malaysia such as Sunway Medical Centre (SMC), Tropicana Medical Centre, Darul Ehsan Medical Centre, a rural hospital and a large public hospital for students’ pre-internship (ie pre-housemanship). In addition students also spend a compulsory 12-week posting in Australia.

He added that a third out of their nearly 600 graduates to date obtained internship positions in Australia, where they can start working within two weeks of graduating.

Among other advantages of doing their internship in Australia includes completing their internship within a year instead of two in Malaysia, which allows them to start their specialist training quickly. This would help address the increasing need for specialists in Malaysia.

As a research-intensive private university, JCSMHS is involved in major research in the areas of public health, brain research, dengue virus infection, diabetes, obesity as well as cancer.

Publications by academics have also increased over the years, with each academic’s research being published an average of 2 high impact publications per year, well above the average for medical schools in the country.

The school is also developing joint research projects with Sunway Medical Centre as well as the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru.

Future areas of focus

Despite success in research and education, the school is not resting on their laurels. The school has earmarked increasing their research intensiveness as one of their key goals moving forward.

There are currently almost 100 PhD and Masters Students enrolled with 50 who have graduated over the last 5 years. “We want to increase this by 50% over the next two years. To recruit more students, we’re offering more PhD scholarships,” he explained.

JCSMHS is also looking to collaborate with other universities, including local medical schools and those in the region and beyond, and have reached out to regional universities in Australia, Indonesia and Thailand as well as those in Europe at the United States.

Prof Shah shared that many universities have expressed their interest in collaborating in research and students exchanges..

“We’ve also started to develop relationships with Cambridge and Oxford,” said Prof Shah, adding that they are running a Cambridge, Oxford, Monash and Sunway Medical Centre Conference on Stem Cell in November 2017.

The school will also be hosting a range of workshops in conjunction with their anniversary, including research training programs which are open to the general public as well as researchers.

This includes a two-day Assessment Workshop in October aimed at senior academic staff from medical schools involved in examinations and other forms of assessments.

Looking into the future, Prof Shah is hopeful of developing a post-graduate training program for medical doctors.

The JCSMHS would not be where it is if not for the vision and commitments of Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, Chairman of the Board of Monash University Malaysia and Chairman and Founder of Sunway Group, who lobbied Monash University and the government stakeholders for the establishment of the medical school.