THE Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) - Bahrain Class of 2022 Valedictorian made history when she became the most awarded medical graduate of the university till date.
In a ceremony which marked the graduation of more than 200 students at the RCSI campus in Busaiteen, Dr Taibah Aladraj was honoured with a total of nine awards for her success throughout her academic journey.
She won the Degree Award Gold Medal, the Highest Aggregate Marks Gold Medal, Medicine Overall Gold Medal, the Senior Cycle Silver Medal, the Professor Niall O’ Higgins Prize in Surgery, the Professor John Murphy Prize in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Professor Charlotte Kamel Prize in Psychiatry, the Professor Joe McMenamin Prize in Paediatrics and the Professor David Whitford Prize in General Practice.
Speaking about her experience at RCSI Bahrain, Dr Aladraj said the university helped her grow both personally and professionally into a well-rounded physician, making her well-equipped for life after graduation.
“What really encouraged me to study medicine is the idea that I can help other people feel better by applying what I have learnt,” she said.
“We were provided with high quality education in a holistic approach and there was a strong emphasis on ethics and communication skills, which are essential in clinical practice.
“Research skills were also an integral part of the curriculum, and I personally managed to participate in many research projects and publications as a student,” she said, adding that one of the great opportunities at RCSI Bahrain is being able to work closely with leading professors and doctors.
“A key memory in my clinical placement years was during the obstetrics/gynaecology rotation where Dr Basma Darwish, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Bahrain Defence Force Hospital and RCSI Bahrain clinical medical lecturer, was a great mentor who encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone with confidence.”
Dr Aladraj particularly remembers her first time in the operation theatre with Dr Darwish when she assisted in a hysteroscopy. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has had an effect on her educational journey, Dr Aladraj says that RCSI Bahrain ensured that the students’ learning needs were met through online sessions, focused group teaching on campus and simulated clinical environment, where they were able to safely practice vital skills.
Dr Aladraj is also a proponent of student activities saying they gave her the opportunity to expand her network and meet new people with different perspectives and ambitions.
During her time at the university, she was part of the community engagement team as well as the paediatric society.
Dr Aladraj is interested in pursuing a specialisation in paediatrics and will begin her internship year at Salmaniya Medical Complex this month.
She is also very passionate about medical education and has plans to pursue becoming a tutor at a medical school.
To future students of RCSI Bahrain, Dr Aladraj has this to say, “Although your medical school journey might be difficult at times, it is very rewarding.
“Medicine is not just a six- or seven-year course, it is a continuous process, and you become a lifelong learner. Therefore, try to enjoy the journey and find the life-work balance.
“RCSI Bahrain will provide you with a wide range of opportunities in research, volunteering and many more, so try to make good use of it,” she said.
She also encouraged future learners to always ask for help when they need it because the faculty and their fellow senior students are always there to support them.