Choosing Medicine Over Clear Skies 

Dr Elayni Borhan never wanted to be a doctor.
“As the youngest of four siblings in my family, I wanted to be an air stewardess.
“However, being born and raised in an Asian family here in Kuala Lumpur, my parents implanted the idea of becoming a doctor as a good career path.
“Eventually, I ended up becoming one and thankfully I am enjoying every single bit of it!”
Undeniably, the never-prosaic Dr Elayani has an attractive physique that would easily pass the requirements of an airline crew. 
She admitted that she walked her medical school years rather smoothly and discovered her passion for Emergency Medicine during her housemanship in Hospital Sungai Buloh. She has not looked back since, and today, she is one of the four Emergency Medicine consultants in Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway City.
“The adrenaline rush motivates me. Emergency Medicine suits me perfectly because the field itself is fast-paced, spontaneous and keeps me on my toes all the time!”
She also added that she loves the teamwork in the Accident & Emergency (A&E) unit as everyone is supportive, cooperative, and quick to act. 
Dr Elayni recalled that the most dramatic event happened during her first pregnancy. She was heavily pregnant at around 38 weeks and was driving alone when the car in front of her stopped abruptly.
The driver lost consciousness due to seizures and her doctor instinct kicked in her to provide first aid to the patient before the ambulance came. 

Dr Elayni and her ER team at Sg. Buloh hospital prior to joining Sunway Medical Centre. Image supplied.

In the thick of COVID-19

If she were to name one significant event that challenged her both mentally and physically, it was undoubtedly during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
“It was life-changing for all of us. In A&E, we treat every patient equally without stigma or prejudice even when managing infectious diseases. Before joining Sunway Medical, I was working at Hospital Sungai Buloh, Malaysia’s main COVID-19 centre, and was actively involved in early 2020 when the virus was first detected,” she recalls vividly. 
“At that time, most people were still confused and terrified of the sudden virus outbreak, so the medical team needed to treat patients, manage the disease, and educate people. We were always on standby to be a call away, hop on the ambulance to pick up the infected patient to the hospital and even to cross states. It was a draining and tough battle as we needed to fight the unseen ‘demons’, but we were far from giving up.”
At the same time, this mother of two also had to ensure her family was protected and her children understood the nature of COVID-19. 

Dr Elayni during a simulation for an unstable COVID-19 patient via helicopter transfer.

Family and Self-Care Matter

Now that the pandemic is under better control, Dr. Elayni is back to her usual work life where she normally serves two shifts at work—5pm to 11pm or 11pm to 8am. On days when she is on the evening shift, she starts the day by spending time with her family and some down time for herself first. 
“I will wake my two kids up, send them to school and go for a quick jog at the park or do yoga. I will also use my morning to prepare materials for any talks and teachings or catch up with friends before leaving for work or sometimes, I just sleep in if I’m too tired. Basically, the first half of the day is my ‘me-time’. I’m grateful that my family understands the nature of my work. So, on my rest day, I will make sure to spend it well with the family.”
Dr Elayni likes to shop, travel, and is an adrenaline junkie. She loves diving, hiking, water rafting, skydiving and has conquered Mount Kinabalu three times! She aims to subjugate the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal and Mulu Pinnacles sometime in the future.

Reality Vs Drama

Medical-themed series have always remained a popular choice with many and Dr. Elayni has watched quite a few. While there are some elements that portray the real situations in A&E but most scenes are just made up to make the story better.
“There are some major differences between A & E portrayed between drama and real life. The involvement of a multi-specialty team is often seen. For example, Emergency Medicine doctors are often seen performing a surgery on a patient. The truth is, the Emergency Medicine doctors are there to stabilise the patients first but not to perform any surgery, and we will refer the case to the respective specialty if needed,” Dr Elayni explained.
“Many people may not be aware of the things we do in the Emergency department.
“I consider it one of the most mentally and physically challenging fields.
“It’s medicine in its rawest form.
“There are no fancy ties, clean white coats, gleaming fabulous offices.
“But we’re here 24/7 when needed.
“We treat everyone equally – from the most privileged to the most destitute, from newborns to those who are at the brim of death.
“We see the worst and the best of humanity in action. 
“Every shift can be an emotional rollercoaster because of its unpredictable nature.
“Some days you could be indoors, and other days you’re outdoors under the sun or rain.
“One minute you could be resuscitating a cardiac arrest from a stab in the chest, next you could be removing a cotton bud in a child’s ear.
“At the end of the day, despite all the challenges and unglamorous parts of the job, I will always be proud of what I do,” Dr Elayni said.

A Call for More Doctors

Dr Elayni hopes to see more young people pursue a career in medicine – Emergency Medicine specifically.
“Those who pursue a career in medicine have to love their job of becoming a doctor and do it wholeheartedly.
“It should be because you want to do it, and not because other people want you to.
“Then, it will not be as scary and difficult if you love and live it.” 

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