MARY TEO

INTERVIEW BY RICHARD BUCKLEY, SUSANNA MO AND JACKLYN CHIN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUSANNA MO


 

How else does it feel to be out of medical school?
It feels really good. It’s different. I can’t speak for all the different specialties and wards, I can only speak for ED. But it feels very much like you’re on a partial holiday and then you’re working casual. You come into work, you see patients, you be a doctor, and then you go home and do your own things.

Life outside of medicine, it’s awesome! There is no obligation to study anymore. You still study but it’s for interest and for learning. Everything just becomes so applicable. “Oh do I prescribe metoclopramide or ondansetron in this case?” It’s more practical things that you are learning, and you remember it better because…

It’s real?
Yeah, exactly! The next time you see a patient vomiting, you know exactly what to give them!

What does being a doctor mean to you?
Deep question. I guess it’s being there for the patient in their time of need. They’ve come into ED and they’re stressed out because they’ve found something wrong with their body, and they are going through a tough time. You are sort of there to sort of reassure them and go, “We are going to find out what is wrong. And if there is nothing serious, then…” You explain to them what is wrong. Then they go away feeling better and knowing that someone has looked after them and that we’re there when they need us.

Nice! If you could be a medical instrument, what would you be and why?
Maybe a scalpel because my wit would be sharp like that?

“I think I’ve got a very regular, normal sort of progression through med school. I had a good time. I wasn’t an exemplary student. I wasn’t the most hardworking student ever. And I came out okay – I think! I’m proof that you can be an okay med student and still get an internship.”

Do you have anything important that you would like to say about your story?
I don’t know. I think I’ve got a very regular, normal sort of progression through med school. I had a good time. I wasn’t an exemplary student. I wasn’t the most hardworking student ever. And I came out okay – I think! I’m proof that you can be an okay med student and still get an internship.

Do you have any advice for people who are still in medical school?
Study regularly, but don’t study too hard. Have fun from time to time. Med school is a great time! You get all your friends all around you and you see them on a regular basis. But once you start working, your friends all sort of scatter. They are all in different places. Some are in different countries and you might not get to see them together like you do in med school.

Did you have many from your cohort that went internationally?
Quite a few actually. In my circle of friends I had 3 or 4 that went international. They were international students and they chose to return back home to their country.

Just out of interest, where are most of the international students from your cohort now?
I think they would all be scattered around the different hospitals. Some are rural and some are metro. And then a small percentage, I’d say maybe 10%, are back in Singapore. That’s where most of my friends went. Actually, that’s where all of my friends went. Singapore. Yep.

 

“Making us aware that there is this field to medicine, this other side of society that we’re not exposed to. That was what I thought was the coolest part of MDSC. It was just bringing people together and bringing ideas together.”

 

What was your favourite part of MDSC?
I think the highlight of MDSC was basically the combination of ideas, you know? We’re all med students, but we come from different backgrounds and we’ve got things that interest us. Just seeing that all put on stage. Everyone, all the day convenors, putting out their ideas and what they are passionate about and showing it to the rest of us. Making us aware that there is this field of medicine, this other side of society that we’re not exposed to. That was what I thought was the coolest part of MDSC, it was just bringing people together and bringing ideas together.

Did you have a favourite speaker?
It’s got to be from my last MDSC. I can’t remember his name now, but there was this motivational speaker [Tom Harkin]. The guy who talked about depression, mental health and reaching out, and got us to do all these activities where we stood up and sat down. That moment when he was like, “Who cried in the past 24 hours and who cried in the past week?” and so many people stood up. And you’re like, “This is crazy. I’m not alone.” That was definitely the best part of MDSC. Definitely the most memorable one.

If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?
A chicken. I don’t know, ‘cause they are really cute. They sunbathe, even duskbathe…They’ve got fluffy feathers. Who wouldn’t want to be a chicken?