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Dr. Ng Poh Yin - Finding Tzu Chi

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Dr. Ng Poh Yin
A doctor to avoid
Finding Tzu Chi
A humble and loving heart
Three vows
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Finding Tzu Chi
In 2007, Dr. Ng happened to attend an annual conference of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) in Taiwan. At the meeting, she heard doctors from different countries share their volunteering experiences at Tzu Chi free clinics. She was deeply moved when she heard how they had traveled to far-off countries at their own expense to provide love and care for people in need. Their humanitarian spirit and the way they attended to the physical and spiritual well-being of their patients touched a deep chord in her heart. “At that moment, I realized how little I had done and how small my contribution as a doctor had been. I felt ashamed at constantly whining about my workload. What I had done was so insignificant and yet I thought I was so great. I really was a long way from what a good doctor ought to be.”

After that, she decided to devote herself to volunteering for Tzu Chi. In 2008, she joined other TIMA doctors and traveled to Myanmar to provide medical aid to survivors of Cyclone Nargis. When she set foot in that devastated land, she was taken aback by the harsh conditions in which the locals lived. The huts they called home had no electricity, no running water, and no food. What surprised her even more was that some of the villagers had never seen a doctor in their entire lives; they had no idea what a stethoscope was, and they had never taken a single pill. She couldn’t imagine how they must have suffered when they were stricken by illness. It was then that she came to understand why the Burmese refugees that she had treated in the free clinics back in Malaysia showed such respect for her—for them, seeing a doctor was a rare blessing.

In Myanmar, she met a female patient who was already in the terminal stage of cancer. She noticed that although the woman hadn’t had a chance to receive treatment, she remained strong and upbeat in the face of the illness. Encounters with patients like this woman stirred up compassion in Dr. Ng’s heart.

When treating the cyclone survivors, she was touched by the sincere gratitude they expressed. The smiles that shone on their faces when she helped alleviate their pain brought her joy and generated an abundance of warmth within her. She found that when she opened her heart and showed sincere care for her patients, they would return her love with all their heart.

The experience gave Dr. Ng a whole new perspective on the relationship between patient and doctor. For the first time, she was grateful to her patients for giving her the chance to serve. Instead of feeling that her patients were a burden on her, she came to realize that if there were no patients in the world, there would be no need for any doctors. She made up her mind that she would never again complain or be harsh towards her patients. Instead, she would feel for their pain and care for them with the utmost sincerity.