This led to the creation of Kan Do Med: World Class Education Engineered for Life. In short, we provide introductory BMAT courses. This entrance exam is utilized, amongst others, by for example Cambridge University, Oxford University, Imperial College London and Leiden University. We have just created our own book that is in the process of being published in The Netherlands and I am currently in the process of expanding our educational courses to the UK. My goal is to especially, help students from poor-background families to enter medicine. You can check out our promotional video giving a summary of our BMAT class on 20th January 2018 via: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgV949p3FWc
At the age of 18, I guess I was willing to sacrifice everything – family, friends, home-made food, my beautiful hometown – for a life in a country where I would literally have to start again from scratch. I didn’t know the Dutch language so prior to medical school, I took a gap year during which I enrolled on a Dutch Language Course at Leiden University.
After the 4 month Dutch language crash-course I was meant to be parcel and package ready for med school. Except I was late to my first lecture as I couldn’t decode that ‘CZ1’ was short for “Collegezaal 1” which means ‘lecture room 1’. When I was finally proud that I had in fact discovered where I was meant to be, I entered a hall of a thousand eyes staring at me. When I finally sat down, I believe the lecturer was enunciating intellectual words that seemed so close to the illegible noises that babies make. I understood not a single word of Dutch. I asked myself the question: who thought it would be ‘cool’ to study abroad again?
To this day, I call them my ‘oma’ and ‘opa’ and treat them as if they were my own grandparents. As Jacques was a retired cardiologist, he gifted me my first stethoscope when I graduated from med school. I must say that cardiology will always be my most favourite field, regardless of the fact, that I have currently applied for GP training. I hope perhaps to run specialist cardiology clinic or become involved in healthcare policy-making, specifically in the field of cardiovascular disease. Sometimes love and passion for a subject are not the only things to take into account. Practicality plays a vital role too!
Next, I applied to the TopFem mentoring program. TopFem is a Dutch-based organisation with the goal of helping ambitious women to climb the professional career ladder. TopFem’s philosophy is based on five core principles: Ambition, Empowerment, Network, Mentorship, and Leadership Development. They believe that mentors have great “added value in personal development” and “connect their members to experienced and professional mentors.” After 6 months of joining TopFem, I have been connected to a Dutch mentor called Nelleke Geel who is a translator and publisher of foreign fiction in Holland. In the end, it's important to realise that a rejection is just a redirection to something greater, something better suited to your own goals and aspirations. This is why one of my favourite quotes comes from Paulo Coelho: "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
However, I have always enjoyed being creative and I have always enjoyed teaching. For instance, one of my hobbies is designing my own clothes. I enjoy converting (old) sarees to lehengas or kurta tops. And teaching is innovative communication in its own right. It's more than just talking about a certain subject. It involves interacting with intelligent minds whilst utilising all the senses and forms of communication. It involves observing, making on-the-spot choices based on the concentration levels of the class and knowing how to evoke attention at the right moment.
I feel that these two root interests of mine helped me to formally form Kan Do Med – an education designed for life. To keep something sustaining with intelligent tutors who believe in what you believe in is the second challenge. This is the reason why I try to invest a huge amount of time into interviewing and selecting the best candidates after a day of teamwork activities. At the end of the day, the selected tutors should ‘click’ with each other – the fundamentals of teamwork. I don’t expect my tutors to have all the skills when they join Kan Do Med, but at least show signs of resilience, the potential to pick up new skills rapidly and the ability to innovate and initiate ideas and solutions based on issues of the moment.
As a devotee of Sai Baba, I have based the very foundation and principles of Kan Do Med on his moral teachings. Consequently, being a Kan Do Med tutor should in my viewpoint be a life-changing experience. Of course, any teaching experience stands great on the CV of any university student. All-in-all, those who join our team enter with the curiosity to learn, and I hope to provide them with sufficient experience so that they leave more usefully to mankind at large. This means that I am transparent about everything: positive and negative feedback. After all, we are human beings with the a priori potential of making mistakes and that’s okay. But what’s not okay is to acknowledge the mistake and to repeat it again.
Life Lessons learned
As a woman, a question that’s always in the back of the mind is how can you combine family life with business whilst also being a doctor. Being present at the meetup gave me the opportunity to come into contact with the founder of ‘Tamil Women in Business.’ She is such a wonderful soul and we had a good laugh observing other people have intellectual conversations whilst we were sipping our watery chai tea. On a serious note, I am looking forward to being present at their next teamworking event and meetup.
The next thing I know, I am sitting in their stylish office in London setting up together with Alma (his Spanish co-worker) our first online school. And on January 28, 2018, we successfully launched Kan Do Med's first online BMAT Course. Yes, we struggled, in the beginning to figure out the mystery behind each button and to get everyone online. But once the Kan Do Med Course was running, I could foresee a good future with online teaching. Thus, let your dreams flow, no matter how crazy they are. Research everyone who you think may have an interesting background and you never where that path will take you!
Sometimes I feel bad that I am not spending as much time as I could with them as my weekends are either packed with studying for work-related exams or BMAT tutoring sessions. Managing everything can be quite tiring and stressful, so I am more grateful now than ever before that my family supports me in so many ways – from cooking great Sri Lankan meals to ironing my clothes and picking me up from the train station after meetings and dropping me off at the airport when public transport lets me down. I honestly wouldn’t be who I am without them. Hence the greatest life lesson of all is to put your family first because when you fall down – trust me – no one will be there for you like your own family. And that’s a fact proven to me several times this year.