Lessons from a final year student 


Ms Masad Alfayadh

MIPS member and final year student Masad loves every specialty in medicine. However, she loves children and wants a career that will have a tangible impact on the world, so she’s currently choosing between paediatrics and child psychiatry. She is passionate about mental health, vaccinations and refugee health. As a student, MIPS assisted her with volunteering in Uganda through providing medical indemnity insurance and elective advice.  
During the first few years of university, I completely lost myself in stressing about medical school. I worried so much about studying enough, joining enough societies, volunteering enough, going to enough study groups, making enough notes, not missing any lectures, trying to go to all the optional lectures, seeing my family twice a month and trying to still eat and sleep. I lost perspective of what I wanted my life to be like and was totally absorbed in worrying about the minute details of each passing day.  
Well into med school, I realised that I wasn’t doing what I wanted with my life. The vision I had (of making meaningful social contributions and helping the most vulnerable) wasn’t being realised.  So, I voiced my concerns to my best friend, who had a similar vision for the life she wanted to lead, and we started brainstorming what we wanted to do.  
At the same time, Dr Ali Alfiadh, a cardiologist from the Austin Hospital, reached out to me about fundraising $147,000 for heart surgery for a 6-year-old boy, Hussein. Hussein was in a terrible condition: his heart was failing and he needed the surgery quickly. We contacted everyone we knew and made a crowdfunding page and sent out email after email both to organisations and individuals. Weeks later, we were still $67,000 short. We were forced to get creative, and so we decided to use our talents to fundraise. We had done well in high school and had been tutoring and conducting lectures and seminars at high schools for several years after graduating, so we felt that we could use those skills to earn money. We wanted our fundraising to have a social impact as well, so, after many meetings and asking our parents for advice, we decided to fundraise by tutoring at affordable prices in socially disadvantaged areas in Melbourne.  
Fast-track another few weeks, we managed to raise the whole amount and Hussein Saad got the heart surgery he needed! It was a huge honour to have been part of something that actually saved someone’s life.  
The classes which we conducted were very fulfilling, and it was amazing to see the real difference it made to the students. We saw them grow in confidence and saw their personalities shine, and felt that we were actually filling a vital gap in the existing services. Thus, we decided to continue to do this long term, and so we registered as a charity and became Happy Brain Education (HBE).  
HBE is now officially a registered Australian charity which provides tutoring and support for young people around Melbourne and has 250 students, 18 amazing team members and 3 branches. All the profits that are made from tutoring go towards funding projects that we and our students are passionate about. Most recently we were fundraising for a CD4 machine, which will help monitor the treatment and progress of HIV patients in rural Uganda. 
I am so proud of all the people who worked with us on HBE and all our students. I feel like we’re actually contributing to the world in a way that’s impactful and sustainable and extremely rewarding.  
For young med students reading this, please don’t increase the pressure on yourself and add ‘Become the founder of a Charity’ to the list of things that you feel you have to do in med school. The message that I’m trying to communicate to younger meddies is to just slow down and think about why you’re doing things. There is so much pressure on us to be perfect students and perfect citizens and it’s easy to lose ourselves in trying to keep up. I think the best advice I can give is to find what you’re interested in and what makes you happy (whether that’s advocacy or start ups or social justice or becoming a neurosurgeon or sport or art or whatever it is!) and pursue that. For me, that was actually realising my life dream of helping people in a meaningful way and working with young people.   
Along this journey, I’ve found a few amazing people who’ve also started their own projects and who’ve really inspired me. Two people who I really want to mention (and who you should totally stalk and be inspired by) are Rachel Ben-David and Wesley Teoh. 
Rachel is a Nutrition and Dietetics student at Monash, and she founded The Nutrition Press. It is a reliable source of nutrition information. Misleading nutrition information is rampant on the internet, so a trustworthy, evidence-based resource is very important. 
Wesley, also a Monash Med student, is really passionate about the humane treatment of animals generally, and within surgery more specifically. Apparently, many surgeons practice their surgical skills on animals in the first few years of their training, which he believes should be changed. He advocates for alternatives such as virtual reality to provide the same information for training and which do not harm our ‘furry friends’.  
MIPS is available to assist with any healthcare issues that may arise on mips.com.au or 1800 061 113. 24-hr Clinico-Legal Support is also available out of hours for emergency and urgent clinico-legal matters.

If you have a story to tell about your journey as a student or a healthcare practitioner, we would love to hear from you – send your 500-1,000 word article with the subject heading 'MIPS Matters member article' to info@mips.com.au

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