Dr. Ahmad Sufian Consultant Medical Oncologist is Living Life Intentionally

Reading motivational books was his passion and when he came across Intentional Living, a book by motivational author John Maxwell about how our individual lives can make a difference in the world, it impacted him greatly. As the journey of life led Dr Ahmad Sufian Ab Rahman to the field of medicine, he chose to make a difference in the field of Oncology.

If I can make my patients smile, if he or she is able to visit his or her family one more time, that would be so meaningful to me.

His purpose is to alleviate human sufferings in a field known as end-of-life care. His vision is to provide care to his patients, emphasizing on the human values of kindness, generosity, high competency, and humanity at its core. “If I can make my patients smile, if he or she is able to visit his or her family one more time, that would be so meaningful to me…. says Dr. Ahmad Sufian.

Dr. Ahmad Sufian Ab Rahman

So, Dr. Ahmad Sufian is writing his own story and living an intentional life by impacting the field of Oncology in Malaysia. He obtained his entire medical degree and training in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology in New Zealand and Australia. He completed his cancer clinical trials fellowship in Sydney. He was awarded the qualification and admitted as a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP).

Where is no road ahead, the best thing to do would be to create your own road.

Despite his high level of training and experience, offering his medical expertise in Malaysia proved difficult as there is a strict red tape involving government services. Applying to the universities and the MOH did not yield the desired result and with the pandemic, the process was severely delayed. In addition, there is a long list of requirements including a gazettement period for Consultants and Specialists who have worked elsewhere but have not practised in Malaysia.  

When it became clear to him that the process of entering the set medical pathway would be a long and arduous one and may not yield the results he had hoped for, he decided to do something about the situation.

“When there is no road ahead, the best thing to do would be to create your own road” Dr. Ahmad Sufian says. The field of medical oncology in the country is relatively new with a basic level of leadership. So, he went ahead and began a social business start-up, Cancer CRI Centre. Its aim is to improve the survival outcomes of patients with cancer in Malaysia as well as to improve their quality of life. It takes a value-based healthcare model which places patients rather than the service as the driving point.

Having a social business start-up focusing on cancer care and making a difference in the community, as it turned out, was a good move. It led to a connection with Hospital USM where today he serves as a Consultant Medical Oncologist and Clinical Researcher being credentialed by the University. In Malaysia, there are 117 Oncologists for a population of 35 million. Dr Ahmad Sufian is the Consultant Medical Oncologist for the East Coast states of Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu for USM.

At Hospital USM, he initiated the electronic record system for cancer patients in an attempt to eliminate the problem of missing or misplaced crucial cancer information. It would create the possibility that patient files could be reviewed digitally anywhere. Through the Cancer CRI Centre, he started the East Coast Cancer Initiative (ECCI). The initiative hopes to consolidate physicians and surgeons treating cancer patients through the East Coast Oncology Alliance Group (ECOAG).

As the only Oncologist for the East Coast states, it is impossible for Dr Ahmad Sufian to see 6,000 patients. The best alternative was to train doctors and surgeons treating cancer patients to come together through the Telegram app and to conduct a monthly Telehealth program where 15 to 20 patients will be discussed each time. The hope is that over time, these doctors/ surgeons will be empowered to help cancer patients using systemic therapy and innovative cancer medicines.

If specialization is not available in Malaysia, then doctors ought to consider gaining that experience somewhere else.

The public healthcare system needs a serious transformation, and the plight of the contract doctors is a sad one, notes Dr. Ahmad Sufian. “When there’s no option and you’re stuck, sometimes that is when you know that the option is open for you to start something that works for you” he notes flashing a gentle smile.

But in order to start something or to pivot to another career, the good doctor recommends that doctors give themselves a positive pep talk as a form of mind renewal/shift. “So, every day, when you wake up in the morning, go through the ritual of talking through your vision, your purpose, and the qualities needed to achieve them, to yourself. This is one of the ways of equipping yourself and strengthening your mental and inner self for the pivot or to start something new” he said.

“If specialization is not available in Malaysia, then doctors ought to consider gaining that experience somewhere else,” says Dr. Ahmad Sufian. But he also cautions that huge financial commitments will hinder doctors from making this move. It is Dr. Ahmad Sufian’s sincere hope that doctors will choose to make a difference with their lives whatever their career options may be.

Dr. Ahmad Sufian will be our Diverse Careers for Webinar speaker on Saturday, January 22nd, 2022, at 10am via zoom. He will be speaking on a topic of utmost importance to doctors – “Pathways for Specialization Outside of Malaysia”. You don’t want to miss this! Click here to book your spot.

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