1) Please introduce yourself.
2) Where is your working place back in your country and what is your specialty?
Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) is my workplace. It is a tertiary center located in Sarawak, Malaysia and also, SGH is a teaching hospital collaborating with University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS). I am an Otorhinolaryngology (ORL) surgeon and my subspecialty of interest is Otology and lateral skull base surgery.
3) How did you get to know Severance? Why did you choose Severance as your training hospital?
I knew about Severance from my senior colleagues who completed their international fellowship training. In addition, I attended a symposium, Yonsei Endoscopic Ear Surgery 2020 in Severance. The massive modern design hospital caught my eye. At the time, I met Professor In Seok Moon in person, and he was pleasant and enthusiastic about working with international students. Therefore, I chose Severance as my fellowship training center at the start.
4) How long is your training period in Korea?
The training period is nine months, from 1st February 2022 until 31st October 2022.
5) Which area did you focus on during your fellowship at Severance?
6) What is the most impressive feature of Severance Hospital?
Most people agree that Severance is a world-class sophisticated medical center specializing in robotic surgery. However, I believe that this hospital provides a pre-training program, SIF-PC, that can help international physicians to participate in hands-on medical practice is fantastic. The eagerness to move forward globally by sharing clinical experience is an excellent opportunity and is rarely available in other medical centers. The SIF-PC has a limited slot, but participants will receive substantial rewards. I'm glad I was one of the participants in the program!
7) What are the specific contents of your fellowship program at Severance?
The specific training program contents are; Daily surgical training in the operating room (major and minor surgeries), Weekly outpatient department clinics, case conferences, neurotology, auditory implant, and vestibular research meetings. In addition, participation in seminars, symposiums, temporal bone dissection, and skull base dissection courses. Involvement in clinical research in Otology is also part of the program. The fellowship program focuses on exposure regarding the treatment capabilities in Otology and skull base diseases with various surgical exposure in endoscopic ear surgery and lateral skull base surgery.
8) What was your first impression of Korea?
Korea has developed rapidly with technological advances that amazed me. However, living in a modern country, Koreans never forget their roots. They are culturally and patriotically rich. The ancient heritages are well preserved. The Korean’s attitude makes my jaw drop. Organized, efficient, polite, kind, and physically fit are the words that I can describe to most Koreans. They are pretty friendly, despite sometimes not knowing what they are talking about, as the majority of them speak in their native tongue. The public transportation system is excellent accessibility and punctuality, which I love most!
9) What is the best memory so far during your stay here?
Aside from my hands-on Otology training in Severance which is the best experience so far, I was able to experience the brief blooming period of cherry blossoms in the spring. I felt fortunate to be around the perfect moment to see the full-blown flowers in the most popular place. Seeing the flowers made my heart bloom and overflow with joy. The recent trip to Jeju was breathtaking. The views are spectacular. Learning the Korean language is a pleasant and continuing effort. I'm proud of myself for recently getting a discount in Dongmun Market, despite my limited Korean language skills.
10) Who are you most thankful for at Severance (who helped you the most) & why?
Professor In Seok Moon, my training supervisor, deserves the highest compliment. He is a bright and skilled Otology and skull base surgeon. The way he does the surgery is effortless. When he strongly recommends hands-on practice, I can tell he is a dedicated and passionate mentor. Despite his vast experience, he is a humble person. He is easily approachable and answers my questions regardless of his busy schedule. He guided me throughout my training, especially at the beginning, and made me feel at ease in this unfamiliar place. He often encourages me to explore new places and foods in Korea. He tries to understand and respect my culture, especially when it comes to halal food; I feel overwhelmed.
11) If you were to get the chance to come back, which field of clinical study would you like to focus on?
I'll concentrate on the same clinical area, Otology. Otology is a broad field that I hope to enhance my knowledge and apply in my center. Apart from refining my basic Otology and lateral skull base surgery skill, I do like to learn more about surgical techniques for microtia. However, due to the rarity of microtia incidence and the surgery, gaining skills in such a short period is difficult. Also, focusing on auditory implant surgery and vestibular disorder management would be beneficial.
12)Please describe a special/troublesome experience you went through because of COVID19 during your fellowship.
I feel blessed to make it here in the end after going through some difficult times. The rules were strict when I initially arrived in this country. Before training, I spent ten days in quarantine and had several COVID-19 (PCR) tests. Around mid-March 2022, the highest peak of COVID-19 new cases was 600K per day. Fortunately, SIF-PC was an entirely online course for the whole month of March. Nonetheless, this critical period was stressful and worrisome, particularly when I was concerned about becoming sick in a foreign country. Thankfully, the number of cases is reducing every day.