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The basics
THE UK: Subject Guides

An interview with a medical student in Scotland

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As thousands of Malaysian students show an interest in science subjects, we’ve seen a surge of applications to enter medical schools. This is good news for Malaysia as we’ll be cultivating and growing the field of medicine, producing more doctors, surgeons and specialists who will strive to improve healthcare and research. If you’re interested in studying medicine, find out from our latest interview with second year medical student Izz, who’s studying for a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) in University of Aberdeen, UK.


Hotcourses: It must be expensive doing a medical degree in the UK. How are you funding your studies?

Izz: I’m a MARA scholarship recipient. There are many scholarships provided by MARA. The one I received is for high achieving students who wish to continue their undergraduate studies abroad. I first applied for the scholarship through MARA’s portal after finishing my SPM. I was shortlisted and attended a one-to-one interview. I was selected and went on to do an International Baccalaureate, a pre-university programme at MARA College Banting.


H: Why medicine?

I: Since high school, I’ve always been interested in Biology and love finding out how the human body works. So I’ve known all along that some day, I would choose a biology-related subject and medicine was right at the top of my list. I’m fascinated by primary care and medical research, and since medicine covers such a broad area, it gives me more opportunities to explore and specialise in my chosen field.


H: Why did you choose University of Aberdeen?

I: University of Aberdeen is listed as one of the top 5 medical schools in the UK. It has a very inclusive system. Unlike many other universities, University of Aberdeen uses an integrated approach which combines traditional lectures with hands-on tutorials. We learn about the human systems, combining pathology, anatomy, physiology, treatment plan and everything else related to the system.


H: What’s the best part about studying medicine in University of Aberdeen?

I: I love the fact that clinical experience starts right in the first year, so I got the chance to go to the hospital, meet patients and gain an early exposure to clinical practice.


H: Could you tell us a little more about your course?

I: I’m doing a 5-year course in medicine. It’s divided into preclinical years (1-3) and clinical years (4-5). The course focuses on the reason behind a disease and what treatments are available to patients. Besides the physical aspect of medicine, we also take into account the psychological and spiritual aspects of patients as holistic individuals. On top of that, we learn communication skills, hospital management and care in community. In the 4th and 5th year, we are sent for attachments at different hospital departments or medical practices to integrate whatever that’s been learned.


H: Any interesting projects or assignments that you were involved in?

I: Recently, my group mates and I were assigned to conduct a research on DNA. I really enjoyed learning about molecular biology and genetics. We were looking at repairing the mechanisms of DNA and how it consequently causes cellular damage. Although this area of research is still very new, we managed to produce a report. The best part was my friend, Peter and I were chosen to present our findings to the rest of the class and the lecturer.


H: Any challenges when you first arrived in Aberdeen?

I: The language! Aberdonian has its own accent called Doric. I had difficulties understanding the locals at first but now, I’ve no problems at all. It just takes getting used to! Also, my flatmate and I moved to 4 different houses before we managed to get a nice comfy flat near the medical school. I guess that’s because the Malaysian community here is pretty small compared to other places in the UK. It’s a little bit more isolated and because it’s up North, it was tricky to settle in initially.


H: Do you like living in Aberdeen then?

I: I enjoy Aberdeen. It’s a small town and it’s not busy at all which is good for students – less distraction! Although I’d wish for a better weather, maybe a little more sun! It’s really cold up here and it’s usually dark and rainy. But when the sun comes out, everyone’s really smiley. Oh and there’s one interesting fact about Aberdeen, it’s called the grey city because almost all of its buildings are made of granite.


H: What are your future plans upon graduation?

I: I plan to stay in the UK and do my housemanship training here for 2 years. After that, I’d like to specialise in research or perhaps go into surgery. They say that you’ll know what to specialise in after you’ve done your training because that’s when the interest kicks in. I dream of working with the World Health Organisation and be part of their research team. If possible, I would love to study epidemiology of virus and help find a cure to stop them from spreading. Very ambitious but hey, the sky is the limit!


H: If you’ve learned a very important lesson during your stay here, what is it?

I: I think I learned to believe in myself and appreciate my capacity as an individual. Ever since I got here, I’ve felt so empowered and motivated. I’ve seen many different views on life, met different people and experienced different cultures. I’m surprised that I’ve managed to even survive a year and half living here alone, away from my parents!


H: Any advice you’d like to share with other students who hope to study medicine?

I: A lot of people think that medicine is all about memorising tonnes of books and facts, but believe me, if you do that, medicine will probably be the most boring subject to study. Whatever you hope to pursue, make sure you go for it because you love it. I think what makes learning medicine so captivating is finding out how the perfect human body works! Of course I don’t deny you need to have a good memory to learn biology or any medical related subjects, but, you always need to question your understanding and be a thinker.


If Izz has inspired you with his thoughts on medicine or if you’re keen on pursuing your medical degree in the UK, find more university and course choices here.


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