Yesterday I received the sad news that Prof. Rokiah, a senior consultant endocrinologist and beloved professor has passed away after a short battle against the big ‘C’.
Prof. Rokiah was one of my personal favourites when I was a Masters student in Internal Medicine. She was like a breath of fresh air in the dog-eat-dog world of postgraduate medicine. I remember her as a very humble consultant and surely her trademark was her caring attitude towards us, struggling Masters students. She took a personal interest in all of us as individual people and took the trouble to enquire about our welfare.
When we all failed the Part 1 exam, she was there consoling us while we licked our wounds and promised ourselves we would rise from the ashes of defeat to be better people (and indeed we have!).
She came to my defense when I was being penalized for not knowing all the endocrine cases in the ward – simply because the specialists then started their morning rounds at 5.30 am and completed the rounds way before 7.15 am which was the time I usually arrive to work, driving through the nightmarish Serdang traffic jam to Petaling Jaya. By then, the specialists would have left the ward without passing over what their plans of managements were and I found it tough to do the rounds and scan through what they had planned for each patient.
Prof. Rokiah chided them when they took me to task for not ‘knowing the cases’ in front of her – she told them there was no reason for them to start their rounds at such an unearthly hour (imagine waking sleeping patients at 5.30 am!) and in a firm and decisive tone told the two specialists to “GO GET A LIFE!”
That day, I knew I had an ally and the endocrine rotation became so much more bearable.
Prof. Rokiah called me ‘Jack’ – from year two (I joined in-campus training at year 2) till the day I graduated and despite my repeated attempts at correcting her, she never truly learned that my name wasn’t ‘Jack’.
“You look like a ‘Jack’”, she quipped one day when I corrected her again. I never corrected her anymore and told her that she can call me Jack for the rest of my life because I’ve grown accustomed to it. She gave me a mischievious smile.
She gave us the ‘thumbs up’ when we cleared the Part 1 exam, again when we cleared the Part 2 exam. In my final year, whenever we met at the hospital corridors, she would often ask about the progress of my thesis, my work, my personal life and my family.
Prof. Rokiah was special and will always hold a special place in my heart. I’d like to think her influence has made a difference in my character.
Farewell Prof. I will miss you.