NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) graduating student M Premikha has been training to be a doctor since she was a child. Whenever anyone in her family fell ill, she would look up their medical condition, the symptoms and treatment options. So it came as little surprise — but lots of pride for her parents — when she became the first in her extended family to attend and graduate from medical school.
Premikha’s passion and drive to serve the community had a strong influence on her decision to become a doctor. The dedicated volunteer has been involved in a diverse range of community engagement activities both locally and abroad since she was in secondary school. In 2012, she took part in Hair for Hope, shaving her head to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer. In 2014, she spent three weeks in Punjab, India painting the corridors and libraries of a school. She also took part in Migrant Workers Day that year, conducting health screenings for migrant workers and providing them with personalised healthcare tips.
As a medical student in 2017, Premikha embarked on a one-month internship at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India. The experience gave her a different perspective to the practice of medicine. While the infrastructure of the hospital she worked at was modest, she felt that the standard of care provided matched what is available in Singapore. The different environment also provided Premikha with exposure to a range of medical conditions that she had never encountered in Singapore.
Despite her keen awareness of human suffering developed from years of experience as a volunteer, there was one aspect of being a doctor-in-training that Premikha struggled with. “In my initial years, I had issues with maintaining my emotional balance… My first encounter was with a dying patient and his family crying by his bedside. I was constantly distracted by that scene and eventually, I ended up tearing too… However, as I progressed to my later years in medical school, I learnt the importance of emotionally detaching myself from such situations, and instead focused on making the patient feel more comfortable, whether through pain relief or comfort measures prior to death,” she shared.
The five rigorous years at NUS Medicine have also trained Premikha to be disciplined with her time in order to balance her education with her passion. “I have always been juggling multiple commitments. Thus, ensuring that I place adequate focus on Medicine was a constant struggle. I overcame this by being very disciplined with my time and picking the commitments which I felt for from within. This way, I ensured that I gave my fullest effort for everything I took up,” she explained.
Aside from the related interests of medicine and community service, Premikha also has a long-standing passion for the Tamil Language, her mother tongue. Over the years, she has written numerous creative short stories, scripts and poems that have been presented at various public platforms and events. She even interned at the local Tamil newspaper, Tamil Murasu, after graduating from junior college, publishing over 40 articles during her four-month stint as a journalist.
At NUS, Premikha served as Vice President of the NUS Tamil Language Society’s 37th Executive Committee, overseeing initiatives such as the Singapore Tamil Youth Conference, an event that brings together Tamil youths to discuss leadership, education, arts and culture, and community work.
“Singapore is multi-ethnic. We have different races living harmoniously but what makes us different from each other is our culture and our roots, which I hope we can take through to future generations. For me, I feel that my culture and roots stem from my language. So I want to learn my language well and do whatever I can to contribute to sustaining it in Singapore,” said Premikha.
She is currently focused on serving her housemanship at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital but Premikha hopes to continue contributing to the local medical research scene, and eventually specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health. Her desire to serve the less fortunate also remains as strong as ever, with an ultimate ambition of putting her knowledge and experience to good use at the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders in the future. And, if she has some time after all that, she would also like to release a collection of her Tamil poetry.