From the Dean's Office

Interview With Assoc. Prof Che'an Ahmad
by Jimmy Teo Hui Thian (

ASSOC PROF CHE'AN BINTI AHMAD has been in OUM for almost two years now as Head of the School of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences (SONAHS). Previously, she was with University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) for many years assuming many different roles there, particularly in the training of nurses.

Jimmy: To many people, nursing is considered a "feminine" vocation. What is your opinion on this?

Che'an: I think this is old thinking (laughs). I think people are beginning to accept that nursing is no longer reserved for women. Modern society is more open and we do have men enrolling in our diploma and degree courses now. In fact, male nurses are common in developed countries like England, United States, Canada, Australia and others

Jimmy: Why would someone choose to be a nurse? Is there a career path in nursing?

Che'an: Nursing as a profession has progressed tremendously in our country. Previously, there wasn't much prospect for nurses to advance in their career, but now it is a different story. Nurses are now in demand and there are plenty of career opportunities for them. As they say: the sky is the limit. You can even do PhD in Nursing nowadays. In fact, OUM is planning on offering a doctorate-level programme in Nursing and will be the first private institution in Malaysia to do so.

Jimmy: Many have remarked that nurses are becoming more mechanical nowadays. Any comments?

Che'an: (Laughs) That is not a fair comment. These remarks are not peculiar to nursing alone. I think doctors and teachers get a lot of these as well. As I see it, there are still many committed, good and caring nurses around but they are not highlighted. People usually take for granted all the good that you have done, but make one mistake and it would make headlines right away. I guess this is human nature. Caring is one of the most important requirements for becoming a nurse. This is why caring is incorporated into all the subjects that we offer here in OUM.

Jimmy: What are the courses offered under your school?

Che'an: Currently, we offer three courses: (1) Diploma in Pre-Hospital Emergency Care, (2) Bachelor of Nursing Science with Honours, and (3) Master of Nursing. As I mentioned earlier, we are now preparing to launch our PhD in Nursing soon.

Jimmy: How are your programmes different from others?

Che'an: Anyone who views our curriculum will notice that though we offer online courses, we also have what we call the clinical component. This consists of actual clinical practices that learners have to go through at our partner hospitals. This will provide our learners with real challenges which will prove invaluable to them.

Jimmy: As the Head of SONAHS, what is your greatest challenge?

Che'an: My greatest challenge now is to get more qualified and experienced staff to join us. Many qualified people have applied, but not many with the relevant experience.

Jimmy: How do you ensure that your learners are in touch with current trends and practices in their respective fields?

Che'an: To begin with, we ourselves have to keep touch with current trends, especially when it relates to new technologies. The lecturers or tutors should then share their experiences and observations with the learners. We are now working on what we call "e-clinical" which is actually a web portal to provide learners with additional resources to complement their learning.

Jimmy: In your mind, what is the way forward for your school?

Che'an: As you can see, there is a lot of demand for nurses at the moment, judging by the number of colleges offering nursing programmes. I think it is high time for us to grow into a full-fl edged faculty.

Jimmy: What is your advice to all the aspiring nurses out there?

Che'an: I think they should just apply and not have any doubt in their mind. As I said earlier, the sky is the limit. This is a good profession to take up and the future is bright. My advice is for them to visit and sign up.

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Gender equality can be promoted in the classroom by:

making sure that both genders have equal opportunities to contribute in the classroom by giving feedback and so on
refraining from cracking gender-insensitive jokes or statements
explaining materials by taking into consideration the sensitivities of both genders
ensuring that there is no gender bias during the teaching and learning process
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