Real medical procedures are nothing like the TV dramas

She is a huge fan of Korean medical dramas and has always been fascinated by the field of medicine.

But it all became real for Miss Cheryl Chua, 18, when her mother was diagnosed with an inoperable benign brain tumour in 2010.

The Dunman High School double-science student, who is studying for her A levels, witnessed first-hand how her mother suffered from loss of hearing and random falls due to imbalance.

Her mother's plight strengthened Miss Chua's desire to work in health care and last month, she got to do just that.

Donning scrubs and gloves, the aspiring doctor lived her dream under Parkway East Hospital's Medical High School programme.

The three-Saturday programme, which started on March 28, saw the hospital open its operating room doors to upper secondary and junior college students from Victoria School, Victoria Junior College and Dunman High School.


Tackling procedures like setting bones and delivering a baby, the students were given hands-on experience in various medical scenarios.

Miss Chua told The New Paper: "It was very fulfilling to see what goes on behind the scenes. Now I know I definitely want to be a doctor."

She admitted that years of watching medical dramas failed to prepare her for the real thing.

"I thought performing surgery would be quite simple, just like in the TV shows," she said.

"But it was a lot harder than I imagined."

Of all the procedures, Miss Chua found laparoscopic surgery, where she had to perform a mock appendectomy, the most challenging.

"It was difficult to manoeuvre the tools as they were moving in the opposite direction of my hands.

"I also had to watch what I was doing off a screen, which took a while to get used to.

"My hands were trembling at first, but I got the hang of it after a few minutes."

Miss Chua was among the first batch of 60 participants.

The group did so well that it left one of the trainers, Dr Imran Nawaz, 56, singing their praises.

The general surgeon at Parkway East Hospital told TNP: "I think they are all potential doctors and surgeons.

"I was pleasantly happy that the students were well-read and had good basic knowledge of biology and chemistry."

He added that such attachment programmes are a valuable learning experience for aspiring doctors.

"When I was a secondary school student, I wanted to be a doctor.

"I would have loved to have had such exposure to help guide me and answer many of my questions."

Mr Phua Tien Beng, the hospital's chief executive officer, said: "Beyond providing top-level care for patients, Parkway East Hospital nurtures future generations of health-care professionals, too."

And one of them might just be Miss Chua.

She said: "Now I'll study even harder to become a neurologist and help people like my mother.

"I want to alleviate their pain and give them a better quality of life."

This article was first published on April 20, 2015.
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