Medical student's life is unique, as compared to other students. We are no more afraid of exams; our life is full of exams. The fear, the adrenaline rush and insomnia because of the exams give us the passion and propel us towards the success. As a medical student at Shandong University Cheeloo College of Medicine, I have seen the seasons of exams, which used to be annual and then semi-annual, moving to mid-term and term exams. Finally, as a surgeon in the hospital, I have exams every day——many of them. The medical student's real success is the correct diagnosis and treatment of his patients as a doctor.
I still remember it was 12 February 2006, I arrived at the Urumqi Airport. Before that, I had only seen China on the TV. My perception of China was totally different then: I thought all the people would have bicycles and would be playing Kong Fu, and people could speak English. But after arriving at the airport, all the perception changed when I asked a person at the airport, "when is the next flight?" He astonishingly looked at me and said, "Nihao, qing shuo zhongwen (Hi, speak Chinese please)." He taught me two words, "chifan", which translates into "to eat" and "xiexie", which translates as "thank you". He said, "Now you can survive for 2 days but you need to learn more Chinese." Since that day I started learning Chinese, and thanks to our best teachers at Shandong University, especially Miss Wu Zhu, Rei Li and Zhao Yue, I was speaking Chinese fluently in 6 months.
In my life there were a number of teachers at every stage who motivated and encouraged me and most importantly they guided me about the importance of hard work, dedication, motivation and persistence.
Prof. Liu Zhiyu and Muhammad Shahbaz attending 22nd ISL Conference in Sydney
In 2006, Prof. Sun Jinhao, my anatomy teacher introduced me to Prof.Liu Zhiyu, a pioneer in Lymphology and Traditional Chinese Medicine research. He was heading to Pakistan for an international conference. Prof. Liu took me with him and here my journey starts to explore the horizon of the medical field. In 2007, he taught me the idea of writing a research paper and conducting basic research. In 2009, under his guidance and supervision, I attended the 22nd International Congress of Lymphology in Sydney, Australia, and presented a research paper about "Therapeutic Effects of Lympho-activation Device on Upper Extremity Lymphedema after Breast Cancer Surgery". Young scientists from more than 40 countries presented their research and I was awarded the "Best Young Scientist Speaker Award". I also visited the Adelaid Medical School Anatomy and Microbiology Department, the University of Sydney. The huge skeletons of giant elephants in the anatomy department broadened my vision and this Young Speaker Award motivated me for more hard work. In the following years I was awarded the Excellent Student Award consecutively for four years and Excellent Graduate in 2011. Also in 2013, I was awarded the Excellent Post Graduate Student Award.
Prof. Niu Jun (3rd from the right) and Muhammad Shahbaz with the team
Another important point in my life came in 2012 when Prof. Niu Jun accepted me as his postgraduate student, in the same year I received the Chinese Government Scholarship for Master's Degree. Under the supervision of Prof. Niu, my idea about life and medicine changed totally. He encouraged me to think multi-dimensionally and in a broader prospective, and he led me realize the importance of team work. In 2013, he formulated the best team for research. The members of the team were Dr.Gao Huijie, Dr.Liang BenJia, Dr.Niu Zhengchuan and myself. Our team published 10 SCI papers in one year.
Muhammad Shahbaz meeting the president of IRCAD, Prof. Jacques Marescaux
In 2016 I received the fellowship in Minimally Invasive Surgery at IRCAD, France, one of the top Robotic and Laparoscopic Surgery Training Institutes in the world. Here I met Prof. Jacques Marescaux, the President of IRCAD, who had performed the world's first telesurgery operation on a patient in 2001 and been awarded Knight of Legion of France for his services in the field of medicine.
training on Laparoscopic surgery simulator
The Innovative ideas and the concept of Institute are unique. I participated actively in a number of training courses and participated in the research work under the supervision of Dr.Michele Diana. The precision surgery and image guided surgery and robotic-assisted surgeries are the future of the surgery. I hope I will learn more techniques in Surgery and represent Shandong University, Pakistan and China at different forums in the world. As I am the first fellow of Robotic and Minimally Invasive Surgery at IRCAD from Pakistan, the news was covered by 6 Pakistani news channels recently. And the Ambassador of Pakistan to France H.E Moin ul Haque came to visit IRCAD and I have been included in the Pakistani Youth Forum Committee to promote the future collaboration between Pakistan, France and China.
In September 2016, I participated in the 2nd Paris WHO health simulation representing Shandong University and China. A big number of students from all around the world participated in this simulation, discussed and debated over the top issues. Besides that, I was appointed as the Associate Editor in Chief of US-Chinese Journal of Lymphology and Oncology in the year 2015. Currently, I am also working with the WebSurg as the expert to edit the Videos and Lectures abstracts and narration. It is the world leading free of cost online forum about surgery with more than 350,000 members, the goal of which is to provide the surgical community, scientific societies, medical teaching centers and industries with the first, worldwide, online training in surgery, information on the latest surgical breakthroughs, and the possibility to chat with surgeons and experts from all over the world.
The most important thing in a doctor's life after graduation is to get a license to practice. For foreign medical graduates, it is essential to pass the National Examination Board Exam of Pakistan Medical Council to practice as a doctor in Pakistan. The same situation is in other countries, e.g. USMLE in the USA, SLE in the Middle East, BMDC in Bangladesh, PLAB in the UK, and AMC in Australia. I have cleared the PMDC all three steps successfully. Shandong University’s academic level of professors is exemplary. Since the launch of the MBBS program of SDU in 2001, the educational system has improved a lot. Students at SDU have a strong base, and if they remain persistent and hardworking, they can pass any exam in the world. Success to prepare is to prepare for success.
It has been always an important part of my life to work for the needy and deliver the knowledge and skills I have learned. I believe that it will enhance my own knowledge and skills. In 2014 I and my brother Muhammad Ali Akbar, my friends Misbahul Ferdous, Muhammad Ijaz and Effat un Nesa started an initiative to teach students in the remote areas with socioeconomic problems. I started this charity foundation with Miss Wang from Rongde Education. The charity organization is called IECO (International Education Charity Organization). My stories were covered by Qilu Newspaper and Shandong Education TV. I was awarded from Jinan Municipal Government as excellent volunteer consecutively for the last two years.
In March 2017, I was invited by the President of CPSP (the College of Physicians and Surgeons), Pakistan to visit the college and discuss the future collaboration between France and China in the field of Surgical training. Pioneer of laparoscopic surgery, Prof. Mahmood Ayyaz invited me to the 15th International Surgical Conference Surgicon 2017 to present the Future of Minimally invasive surgery. My presentation was innovative and most of the audience was astonished by the development in the field. It is my wish that state-of-the-art training centers like IRCAD can be established in Pakistan and China to train doctors with the advanced surgical skills.
I usually like to write stories in my free time on important issues related to my life and the influential events on the society. I have written 3 articles in China Daily and more than 10 articles have been published in Shandong University website. The latest one was on the "One belt, One Road". I hope that the corridor will also bring healthcare facilities and infrastructure cooperation in Pakistan and China. I also participated in the Shandong University Open discussion forum and was awarded Certificate of excellence. Recently China Scholarship Council published its 20 Years of Excellence Foreign Students in China, Evaluation Report by CSC (Chinese Government Scholarship). My Article "A decade of learning in China" was published in it, making me the only SDU medical student to be part of this report.
I took part in ICHS, the International Congress of Historical Sciences, as a volunteer in 2015. I was one of the few foreigner volunteers. This was the first time ICHS was held in Asia and China hosted it. The most amazing thing is, my university, Shandong University hosted it. History was made.
Apart from studies and research, I am fond of sports especially cricket, and like to capture the beauty of the world using my camera, watch movies, learn new languages and travel around the globe. In SDU annual competitions, most of times our postgraduate team has been champions. I have also won the photo contests and story writing contest. My Professor Tariq Kaleem used to say, "The top is always empty." You need to work hard to get to the top; it's always waiting for someone. Co-curricular activities are very important to have a healthy and happy life.
In everyone's life, you want to do something special. I did it on 2nd of July, 2017 while I was in flight AF0125 from Beijing to Paris. When I heard the emergency call for a doctor from the broadcast, I was sleeping, and then woke up after hearing the announcement and rushed to the cabin. A Chinese girl was shivering and lying, and crew members were asking her questions. I introduced myself to the Chief of staff Madam Demon Virginie, she asked me for my ID and started to tell me about the condition of the patient. I started talking to her as I could speak Chinese. Thanks to my teachers at Shandong University who told me learning language is always useful. The girl had severe vomiting and stress and hypothermia. She was intact, conscious. I checked the ABCDE, the Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure, basic approach for medical emergency. After placing an oxygen mask to help her breath, I started to maintain her temperature and covered her with blankets and took her temp, blood pressure and Pulse regularly.
As according to aviation rules I was not authorized to prescribe medicine on board, so I had to treat her without medicine and wait to arrive at the CDG Airport. She and I were upgraded to the business class cabin and I continued to maintain her temperature. I used hot bottle of water wrapped in blanket to warm her body. Her palms and head was continuously rubbed to increase temperature. I talked to her every 10 mins to know about her condition. She was feeling dizzy with low energy and faint. Continuous maintenance of her body temperature let her feel well in a couple of hours, and just after one more hour her dizziness had gone and she was just feeling weak.
Meanwhile, the arrangements were done on ground for emergency landing in case of some complications, and on-ground ambulance and medical staff were in contact during the whole flight. Within 3 hours her situation was out of danger. She was feeling better and in the last 2 hours she was in good state. After the plane landed, the medical staff boarded the plane and examined her and she was alright by then. The police officer also inquired about her condition and she was taken to the 2F Terminal Medical Center, where I also arrived later and she was discharged with her consent that she is well.
The crew staff started clapping as the Chief of Crew made announcement, merci beacoup Dr. Muhammad, Thank you very much Dr. Muhammad. Being the only doctor in the flight, I felt proud of my profession saving a person’s life. The Chief of Crew asked me to accompany her to her cabin and she asked for my information, "D'où est ce que vous venez monsieur?" Where are you from, Mister? I replied proudly, "je suis Pakistanais." I am from Pakistan. She said they had a gift for me in order to appreciate my help in the flight service, and awarded me Air France 10,000 mile mileage with bundle of thanks. It was the best day of my life as I saved a person’s life. I used to see this in movies but it happened in reality. I realized that Doctor is a noble profession and it is beyond the borders of race, color, and religion. Since my childhood I have learned in Islam, "If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind." I was feeling immense pleasure. It is the best profession on the planet earth. This story was covered by leading newspapers of China and Pakistan, including China Daily and Associate Press of Pakistan. You can read it here: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2017-07/04/content_29990129.htm.
I am proud to see the names of Shandong University and Pakistan in front of my name. I am proud to be a doctor and I am proud to be a Pakistani.
My parents have taught me to have a strong will, to work hard and help the ones in need. In the years to come, I will strive to serve Shandong University, Pakistan and humanity beyond the borders and work to strengthen the ties between China and Pakistan. Impressed by the vision of my mentor Professor Niu Jun, I am proud to be a doctor and I am looking forward to helping mankind and making this planet a healthy land.
Whenever someone ask me, "Where are you from?" My answer is always the same, "I am from Wenhua West Road. I am from Shandong University. I Love Shandong University."
Written by Dr. Muhammad Shahbaz (Ali), Ph.D. Student at Shandong University School of Medicine, CSC (China Scholarship Council) recipient
Edited by Xie Tingting