PETALING JAYA: For Dr Nur Aireen Ismail, 41, a day at work used to mean keeping company with the dead.
“This is the life of a pathology medical officer,” she told theSun recently.
And her “patients” come in all forms – gruesome, smelly and disgusting.
It was therefore very much a life-changing experience when she finally stepped out of the mortuary to take up another career.
This time, her responsibility is to make her patients stay young and look good. And her business is thriving, driven by the emphasis we put on our appearance today.
Nur Aireen, the eldest of three siblings, studied medicine and surgery at the University of Manchester.
On returning to Malaysia, she served for some time as a doctor specialising in general medicine before taking the leap into pathology.
“If I were in a movie, it would be Grey’s Anatomy,” she quipped, drawing parallels with characters in the popular TV series.
It was a job that needed a strong stomach.
“Sometimes, I got assigned to bodies that were full of maggots. But that was just part of the routine,” she said matter-of-factly.
To the average person, handling a body that is in the process of decay is highly revolting, but to those like Nur Aireen, it is just a day at work.
“Once we’re done, we happily wash our hands and then go out for nasi lemak,” she said with a laugh.
Nur Aireen said her main responsibility was to examine bodies to ascertain how the person had died.
“Some had died suddenly or violently. Some were involved in tragic accidents. We need to determine the cause of death,” she explained.
She pointed out that one needed a lot of confidence to present the findings to the victim’s family, lawyers or the police.
“Once it has been analysed, we have to prepare a written report and sometimes, we may also need to testify in court and be prepared to give emotional support to the victim’s family.”
But she said being a pathology medical officer did not mean working with the dead all the time.
“The dead do not come in every day. So sometimes, we doubled up as doctors as well, like taking blood and tissue samples in cancer-related cases.”
Despite the stress, Nur Aireen said she was happy to work with the dead.
“At least they do not complain,” she quipped.
But a time came when she began to wonder if she was getting anywhere with her job.
In 2012, she took the big step and left the medical profession to pursue another career in aesthetic medicine and anti-ageing.
That was where she found her niche. She founded her own beauty and healthcare products company called “Doc.A”.
“I still have to work around the clock but at least the financial rewards are greater,” she said.