Prof Dr Azlina Amir Abbas : From IMU to Orthopaedic Powerhouse



Thanks to Greys Anatomy, upon hearing the word Orthopaedic surgeon, the likes of fictional Dr Callie Torres or Dr Atticus Lincoln springs to countless of millennial and even Gen Z minds. The association that comes quick to the mind are a robust and energetic personality constantly fixing or sometimes even breaking bones to fix them, but even to the layperson we know that in the real practice of Orthopedics, it encompasses a far wider range of matters beyond our imagination.


Enter Prof Dr Azlina Amir Abbas, a very much real-life Orthopaedic powerhouse here in Malaysia. A trail blazer right from the get-go being that she was among the earliest batches of Medical Student graduates from IMU or then known as IMC, Prof Dr Azlina went to scale heights in her profession. Among her accomplishments include Head Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya (2016-2020), Chairperson of Selection for Postgraduate Orthopaedic Training subcommittee for Orthopaedic Specialty Committee (2020-present) and Medical Coordinator & Volunteer at Limbs for Life Prostheses Centre (2013-present). While her name is synonymous with imposing achievements, Prof Dr Azlina represents the true hallmark of an educator; knowledgeable, warm, and approachable. As we sit in her office, she deftly puts everything at ease, and we go back to the beginning of it all.


How a Doctor Was Made (Born)


Having a doctor for a father naturally gave Prof Dr Azlina her first taste of the medical profession although she shared humorously, she initially decided to go into Medicine for the lifestyle it could afford her. She had the opportunity of tagging along during her father’s house calls and as a child it provided a sense of wonder and curiosity. Prof Dr Azlina fondly recalls the thrilling feeling of exploring his medicine bag and how she felt being a doctor was the perfect combination of socialising and doing good.


While she was never expected to pursue medicine, we could say she was genetically pre-disposed to a career in the medical field as not only was her father in the medical field but so was her mother. After exploring other options at the conclusion of her tertiary education, Prof Dr Azlina reaffirmed her childhood ambition of becoming a doctor.  Eventually her ambition was further buoyed with the intention of service to the public.


The Journey Begins


Contrary to popular belief, it was not all smooth sailing for Prof Dr Azlina particularly during the first few years of medical school. It took a lot of grit and perseverance to pull through despite more than a few times of self-doubt. She reflects that the experience of going through her fair share of failures in the beginning taught her an important lesson; failing at something is not the end all and be all of things. She stresses on taking time to feel the “failure” and acknowledge the awful feeling that accompanies it as it is important to validate our feelings. She then impresses that the most crucial thing to remember is to not allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity or despair.

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