Elective Posting At Hospital Sungai Buloh By Fatin Salina Zainal Abidin (Doctor Of Medicine)

Fatin Salina (centre) posing for a picture with her supervisor (left) and friend at Hospital Sungai Buloh.

Elective Posting at Hospital Sungai Buloh By Fatin Salina Zainal Abidin (Doctor of Medicine)

It has always been told to me that the highlight of year four in medical school is the chance to do our electives anywhere and in whichever department our hearts desire. Taking this opportunity, I decided to choose a hospital which I have been eyeing to do my housemanship placement in a couple of years and a place close to home: Hospital Sungai Buloh (HSgB) in Selangor. 

Established in 1999, HSgB serves as both a secondary and tertiary hospital which covers almost 40% of the Selangor's population of 2.8 million. This hospital serves the districts of Gombak, Petaling and Kuala Selangor to reduce the influx of patients attending Hospital Kuala Lumpur. 

HsgB is known as a centre of excellence with six outstanding departments which are the National Leprosy Control Centre, Infectious Disease Centre, Neurosurgery, Accident and Emergency, Maxillofacial, Plastic and Burn Unit and Orthopaedics. 

Learning Experience 

Having a predisposition to adrenaline rushes and being a quick thinker, I decided to first be placed in the accident and emergency department (A&E). After a warm welcome and the advice from the head of department Dr Sabariah to keep grabbing every opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge and skills, I set out with high hopes to fulfill my objectives of just that. 

As with every A&E, this department has a triage zone but what sets it apart is that its running is the smoothest that I've ever seen. Each and every member of the team carries out their duties excellently and gave me the confidence and guidance to perform some of the procedures on my own. 

Day one at the department provided me with an experience that I will never forget; it was when I was pulled into the cardiopulmonary resuscitations (CPR) which happened back-to-back for three different patients. This experience opened my eyes and made me realise how important it is to spend more time on our practicals as advised constantly by our professors and consultants. Performing CPR in real life is nothing like how the books teach us. Nothing prepared me for the amount of energy and effort I had to put in as well as my mental strength. The panic, the inability to anticipate the next situation, the weight my arms felt exposed to me how much I have yet to learn and to train. 

Unfortunately, one of the patients didn't make it so I had the daunting task, together with the Medical Officer in charge, to break the bad news to the family members. Keeping in mind Buckman's quote on breaking bad news: 'if we do it badly, the family members may never forgive us; if we do it well, they may never forget us', I had my first experience doing just that. I realised, being a future doctor, there will be times when I have to face the same situation in which I will need to be rational, empathise and do my best to be there and help the family members go through what will undoubtedly be one of the toughest times in their lives. 

I also learned that good communication skills play a major role in managing a patient. One patient may have different kinds of illnesses and doctors from various departments will attend to the patient. It is important for all doctors to communicate with each other and choose the best treatment for patient after weighing the risks and benefits, which can only be achieved with proper discussion. I saw many specialists who taught me just that: how and when to refer patients, how to counsel patients, how to discuss options for their treatment, how important it is to know the updates of illness management, and how to get my opinions heard and considered. 


One of the unexpected benefits for me was making friends with students who were also doing their electives here. They came from Melaka Manipal Medical College (MMMC), University Sains Malaysia (USM), and Mansoura University in Egypt to name a few. Even with our busy schedules, we managed to meet up for quick lunches at the caf¨¦ and even performed some of the procedures together. We exchanged stories of the different teaching and examination styles in our respective universities and also talked much about our hobbies, dreams and aspirations. 

I also managed to build rapport with a few doctors, especially the housemen who gave me precious insight to how life as a houseman will be like as well as tips on how to survive the experience. We discussed future plans and examinations which can be taken to better ourselves and to specialise in the near future. 

Personal development 

Being alone in HgSB without having the luxury of having the support of good groupmates, which I am used to back in UCSI, I learned to be more proactive and independent in my learning style especially when it comes to the management plans that the doctors would recommend for the patient. I learned that without asking, I will never get the answers to my questions. The specialist also grilled me on the basics which made me revise all of my year one and two syllabi and made me eager to gain a deeper understanding of a certain topic. 


HSgB certainly was a good experience for me and will be a great place for those who want to experience life in the West coast area. I learned so much in the four weeks that I was there under the guidance of everyone whom I've met. It was a good platform for me to explore new things and meet new people. I would like to thank UCSI University, especially Prof Retnes and Puan Norsiah for their help in securing a place at HSgB for me, to my parents for their constant support, and to God who guided me through this journey. 

Fatin Salina Zainal Abidin is an alumna of Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Temerloh, Pahang.

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