Providing that human touch to patients’ treatments


AS a cardiologist at the National Heart Institute (IJN) in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Beni Isman Rusani, who was born in Kuching, starts his day as early as 7am reviewing his patients in the wards, seeing patients in the outpatient clinics and finding time for research in between.

Dr Beni Isman Rusani

“While pursuing my degree in medicine at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, I was exposed to the importance of medical research and this proved to be invaluable for working in a world-class institution such as IJN,” Dr Beni said.

He explained that unlike the traditional syllabus in most medical schools, students in the University of Auckland are required to undergo a course on human behaviour during their first year of study – something which he feels helps future doctors communicate with patients on their illnesses and treatments.

“Medical schools in New Zealand also place special emphasis on psychiatric and mental health education.

“This provides their medical students with further training on how to treat patients as a whole, taking into account their emotional being on top of taking care of their physical health.

“This is why I’m very used to asking a little bit more about my patients, such as how they’re currently feeling and how they’re coping with their ailment, when they come to me for their treatments,” said Dr Beni, who gained his Bachelor of Human Biology (BHB) and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) in 2002, after spending six years at the University of Auckland.

Currently into his third year at IJN, Dr Beni chose New Zealand as the destination to pursue his medical degree because he was attracted to the country’s cultural richness.

“As a teenager back then, I saw studying in New Zealand as a great opportunity to not only be exposed to the medical industry there, but to also understand more about the country’s different cultures and ethnicities.

“In some ways, I think I was also influenced by my dad’s stories about New Zealand. He had worked in the country as a military officer when he was younger and often commented about how New Zealand is a beautiful country with much to experience there,” Dr Beni said.

He joked that it also helped that there was the All Blacks rugby team to support if he studied in New Zealand.

Having spent six years in New Zealand, Dr Beni gained a number of memorable experiences but there was one experience that remained close to heart.

“I brought back to Malaysia many exciting experiences and unforgettable moments from New Zealand such as having the opportunity to bungee jump, white water raft and work part-time selling food at cricket games.

“But I most fondly remember the occasions when I was welcomed into the Maori village in Auckland.

“The Maori community in Auckland has a very strong bond with the medical school there, and as a medical student, I had the opportunity to spend a night with them.

“It was a cultural exchange where we as the Malaysian students performed the traditional silat for them and in turn, we were ‘entertained’ with the Haka dance.

“What was especially special about those sessions was that it provided us medical students with the chance to integrate with the Maori community to understand better their health conditions and how we can help them,” Dr Beni said, further explaining that the New Zealand government is very keen on improving health conditions of the Maori community.

Although he has not had the opportunity to visit New Zealand since returning to Malaysia over 10 years ago, Dr Beni is certain that he’d enjoy the country as much as he did back then when he finally has the time to visit again.

“New Zealand is truly a beautiful country which offers everyone, in particular youngsters, the chance to explore new places, activities and cultures. It is also a safe place, so I’d definitely encourage young Malaysians to consider New Zealand as an education destination,” Dr Beni added.

To find out more about education opportunities in New Zealand, go to