Dr. Puah Chang Hua – Paediatrician

One day I was twinning with my baby patient!

Self – introduction

Dr. Puah Chang Hua, MD (UKM), Masters in Medicine (Paeds. UKM)

I was born and bred in Taiping,and now serving in KPJ Taiping hospital. My hobbies are jogging and singing. I had previously worked in numerous hospitals throughout 29 years of clinical practice namely Hospital Pulau Pinang, Hospital Kuala Terengganu, Hospital Jerteh, Hospital Kuala Kangsar, Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Hospital UKM. I have 3 children, and 2 of them are following my footsteps.

Why did you choose to specialise in paediatrics?

Children grow rapidly, from a medical viewpoint, there are many physiological changes happening during childhood including height, weight and social skills. On a personal level, I find children innocent and straightforward in expressing themselves. It is satisfying to witness their contact and interaction with the world and I am glad that I get to be a part of caring for their physical development into adults. 

What was your pathway taken to this career or general pathways to become a paediatrician in Malaysia?

I have used a relatively typical pathway into the medical profession. I obtained an undergraduate medical degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM); this medical degree was recognised as a qualifying one by the Malaysian Medical Council. After this, I enrolled on a postgraduate programme in paediatrics (also at UKM), eventually obtaining my specialisation qualification as a paediatrician. 

‘ It is satisfying to witness their contact and interaction with the world’

What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/ medical field?

In terms of skills required, I believe that there are many things required to succeed as a doctor. You need to learn to be attentive and observant at all times, have a friendly disposition to make your patients feel comfortable and strong self-discipline to manage the long hours and tedious work. 

Other than the technical abilities required for a doctor, it is critical to be able to communicate with patients and their family members and to be able to work well in a team to become a successful doctor. There is no point in knowing a lot about the human body but not being able to articulate that to one’s patients or coordinate your work with that of other medical professionals.  

Ultimately, you must be passionate about your work, otherwise all the time and effort will not be worth it. 

What does a typical day look like? 

I am working in a private hospital now. I work 9am  – 530pm daily, meeting outpatients at my clinic for follow ups. I carry out my ward rounds everyday to check on my in-patients and observe how they are recovering and progressing. I have to be on call from time to time as well, as being on standby for any emergencies is critical for my work. 

Working well with every medical team is important

What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging? Least satisfying?

I think that the most satisfying part of my job is witnessing the dramatic changes before and after my young patients received treatment; to know I have been able to make them feel better and alleviate their illnesses is a very satisfying feeling.  

However, this comes with an equally tough challenge when attending to a critically ill patient. When treatment is not progressing the way it should be, it is very difficult to have to bring bad news to the family members. This requires a lot of sensitivity and empathy on my part. 

In terms of the least satisfying part of my work, I have to admit that sometimes it is hard to confirm my diagnosis on certain complicated cases. Thankfully, however, this is often not the case. 

‘Long periods of study will not be a problem with consistent effort and smart studying.’

How do you balance your personal and professional life?

I stick closely to my routine. I take a jog or do brisk walking every morning before going to work. I play badminton with my friends twice a week. Also once a week, I join choir singing. During my free time, I do charity work with Tzu Chi Organisation, such as home visits and weekend free clinic.

My active involvement in Tzu Chi International Medical Association gives me an opportunity to see the medical career from a different perspective.

The young generations are deterred to enter Medicine field due to the oversubscriptions of housemanship and long period of study, what are your thoughts on this? Or do you have any advice for people who are considering this career?

Long periods of study will not be a problem with consistent effort and smart studying. These are things that you learn along the way and if you are committed to the profession, studying the relevant material will become more doable. Things will eventually get better with dedicated practice. 

The issue on oversubscription of housemanship is a complicated situation, which is beyond our control as there are too many medical schools producing too many medical graduates at this point of time. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that if one is up to par, he/she can still strive in this field. 

What kinds of experience, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?

Shadowing a doctor would be a wonderful experience to have a grasp of what is in the medical field. Talking to existing medical students can give a rough picture of what you could be facing in medical school.  

I often attend medical talks to keep myself updated with the current situation in the medical field.

If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path? If no, what would you do instead?

Yes, no doubt. I thoroughly enjoy my work and get great satisfaction out of helping people. This makes all the hard work and long hours worthwhile. 

‘I strongly believe that if one is up to par, he/she can still strive in this field.’

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