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GEMx Elective Reflections: Exchange From Makerere University College Of Health Sciences To Kenyatta University School Of Health Sciences

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Wasukira Bugosera Sulaiman, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery student at Makerere University CHS (Uganda), who went on a GEMx regional exchange to Kenyatta University School Of Health Sciences (Kenya)

GEMx student at medical camp

Medical camp at Huruma Children’s home

The first clinical year at Makerere University College of Health Sciences is always climaxed by doing a clinical placement in a field that a student is interested in and done from places of their own choice. Well, this was my opportune moment to hunt and grab a site and an opportunity to do my placement in a very resourceful fun and skill- impacting environment for one month (4th July – 4th August).

In just the same time, a rare and perhaps a first time opportunity presented itself in which a call for students interested in undertaking exchange electives through the GEMx exchange system was put up.

Application and Vetting

Another selfie of exchange students
Having been an ambitious highly motivated and open-minded medical student ever looking around for opportunities and trying out on each of them, I went ahead to initiate the application for the GEMx elective exchanges through the GEMx web based system. Application was through the international office and was consequently followed by an interview, which I presume to have just excelled in and followed by being successfully nominated to undertake an exchange elective at Kenyatta University School of Health Sciences, through the GEMx- MEPI partnership. This was with two other classmates: Namingira Simon Peter and Barigye Aston.

The rest of the process involved obtaining a couple of documents as required by the host University. I was amazed by the way the GEMx web system eased the whole process of document submission and with the fact that I could actually store these documents for another application in the future. At the end of the whole process, all documents were submitted through the web system! By this moment, I just had to hold on for the host institution to review and accept my application which came in through on the 9th June 2017.

Preparations before travel

GEMx exchange students in front of a monument
Just as the Luganda saying goes “Okutambula kulaba, Okudda kunyumya” literally meaning that “to travel is to experience and returning home is to tell stories”, the preparations were quite filled with a lot of expectations and excitement; new experience, a lot to learn, first time in Nairobi and so much more. As all preparations were under way, I am sincerely grateful the support given to us (me and the other two colleagues) both from the home institution (Ms. Phiona Ashaba and Dr. Isaac Ssinabulya) and Host institution (Dr. Kahiga Titus and Mr. Vincent) plus the GEMx staff (Ms. Faith Nawagi). As a team, they ensured that the funds to facilitate our electives were processed in time, bookings for accommodation made, bus station pickups arranged, plus guiding on what we need to carry for daily living in Nairobi. At this moment, the GEMx checklist was important since it acted as a measure of the progress in the preparation process. The GEMx web system also played a big role in the preparation process as it provided the emergency contacts from both the host and home institution. This greatly eased communication towards and during our travel.

Travel to Nairobi

Selfie of exchange students
Right after securing our fund facilitation for electives, we booked the bus to Nairobi on the eve of our travel with travel date of 3rd  July 2017, and opting for the 7am bus because we wanted to experience the epic scenery as we go sight-seeing the way to Nairobi as long as no one interrupted my peace in my window seat.

Our journey was a fine one with a lot scenery along the way and with most of the attention after crossing the border. The stops in Kisumu and Nakuru, made the journey was less tiresome and awesome.

I should say my eyes are wiseacres as they immediately identify and report to me the good and unique things they see. The same thing happened upon entry in Nairobi, it was the beaming street lights and the skyscrapers that welcomed me then I knew this is the capital of the famous Kenyatta land!!!  The great hospitality we received made me feel like actually we sometimes have 2 hearts- one that pumps blood and the other one for caring. Our arrival time in Nairobi was 9:30 pm and we were picked up by Mr. Vincent, one of the administrative staff members at Kenyatta University. Off we went to Kahawa-Wendani, where our accommodation had been booked in a Destiny Park Hostel, a student hostel approximately 500metres from Kenyatta University.

Stay in Nairobi, Kenyatta University and the elective site

Student with faculty supervisor

With our supervisor Dr. David Galgallo

HABARI!!!! Our Kenyan life begun with a visit to Kenyatta University where we were given a tour around the university by a medical Student (Kiema Lucky) and later on met the GEMx coordinator, Dr. Kahiga, Mr. Vincent and Dr. Francesca Ogencha. The three were to be in charge of our stay in Kenyatta University.

The lecturers strike and Nurses strike.

I thought we had left the habit of lecturers’, non-teaching staffs’ and other government workers’ strikes in Uganda. But little did we know that this would be our big welcome in Kenya. By the time period we arrived at Kenyatta University for our electives, the lecturers in all public universities had gone on strike and so was the case with the nurses in Kiambu hospital, which is the teaching hospital for Kenyatta university school of Health Sciences.

These happenings put our rotation on the clinics and wards on a halt for a full week as the staff at Kenyatta University tirelessly worked around to get us a nearby hospital to undertake our elective at. By the second week, Dr. Francesca had managed to secure us a place at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, where I and Barigye Aston were to do Pediatrics and Child Health and our colleague Namingira Simon Peter was to do Obstetrics and gynecology. The group in pediatrics and child health were to be supervised by Dr. David Duro Galgallo and the colleague in Obstetrics and gynecology was to be supervised by Dr. Irungo.

The Mater Hospital: The clinical experience

Mater Misericordiae hospital is a catholic founded missionary hospital, a multispecialty hospital with many branches worldwide, and the Nairobi branch being one of them. Located in Nairobi South B, having our clinical rotations in Mater Hospital meant that we had to travel an approximate distance of 20km to reach hospital from our residence in Kahawa, which is north of Nairobi city. A tiring but rather good opportunity for me and my colleagues to learn how to go around Nairobi by ourselves.

At the Mater Hospital, we were given a great hospitality with all the staff mindful to teach us whatever they could.

Outpatient clinics

Exchange student with hospital staff

At the OPD clinic

The outpatient clinics in The Mater hospital are conducted by consultant pediatricians and during the clinics, I was involved in clerking the patients to take history and also do clinical examination under the guidance of the attending consultant for the clinic. This was followed by forming a diagnosis and a management plan. Subsequently, we discussed the patient’s condition with the consultant and participated in patient education about their conditions including informing them about what the diagnosis is, helping them form decisions about treatment course of action and preventive measures for recurrence of certain conditions.

The outpatient clinics are mainly for follow up and review of review of patients who were discharged from the inpatient care.

At the outpatient clinic, patients who had symptoms that pointed to a diagnosis for which a patient needed inpatient care were admitted on the pediatric ward.

At the outpatient clinic, I also participated in the immunization of children and the consultant taught me about the recommended immunization schedule as per the ministry of health in Kenya.

Pediatric ward (Lourdel Ward) and Special Care Unit

Student poses with the admin staff at Kenyatta University

At the OPD clinic With administrative staff at Kenyatta University

On the pediatric ward and the special care unit, I was involved in clerking the patients to obtain history and also did clinical examination then later presented the patients to the consultants. After the patient presentations, we were engaged in the patient condition discussion and later patient education. I also participated in the request for the required patient investigations and follow up on the patients’ progress on the wards. The whole process was incorporated with bedside teachings about the common conditions experienced on the ward.

Obstetrics theatre

During the caesarean section theatre sessions, I would occasionally attend with the pediatrician and participated in receiving the babies.

Postnatal ward

In the postnatal ward, we participated in review of the wellbeing of the newborn babies who were always kept at the hospital for up to a maximum of 4 days. During this period, all those who developed any complications like hemolytic disease of the newborn and neonatal sepsis, were isolated and taken to general nursery or special care unit for the necessary care to be given.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) Sessions

The Mater hospital holds continuous medical education sessions for its clinical staff, aimed at updating the clinical staff members about the latest advances in management and care of patients with certain disease conditions.

During my electives period at Mater hospital, I attended CMEs about management of Asthma, Ateriovenous malformations and Cholera. During these sessions I learnt in detail about the etiology, epidemiology, pathophysiology and management options of the above conditions

Nairobi city and Culture

GEMx Student in traditional African attire

Trying out the Masai attire

Learning on job has never been among my hobbies but as it’s said “a drowning man even holds on a straw to survive”, I was made to reproduce the spoonful Kiswahili that I had learnt ages ago as I needed to get along with some “rafiki” and also navigate my way through the city. However, this in most times never worked and my thick accented English made in Uganda had to come and bail me out. But save for the fact that I did not know a lot of Kiswahili which is the national language in Kenya, the rest of the cultural experiences were just amazing and since most of the ward round and clinic activities ended by lunch time, we used to utilize most of our afternoons to explore the beauty of the city of Nairobi and trying out the local delicacies.  Tours to the Uhuru Park, Central park, Kenyatta International Convention Centre and many more other places enabled us view Nairobi from a variety of angles.

Most notable are the Matatus and the matatu culture. Matatus is the commonest public means of transport within Nairobi and the design plus the music in the matatus made using them to move around Nairobi a thrilling experience.

Kenyatta University: Involvement in student activities and Interaction with student community

While at Kenyatta University, even when we did not get chance to rotate on the wards with other clinical students due to the ongoing strikes, we were able to get time to meet with them in other activities. Important to mention is the Medical camp at Huruma Children’s home, which was organized by Kenyatta University Pharmacy Students Association (KUPhSA), where I was able to meet with many Kenyatta University medical students plus students from University of Science Philadelphia who were also visiting students to the Kenyatta University School of Health Sciences. During the camp, I was paired with a pharmacy student at the consulting desk, an experience which gave me a new touch of the importance of involving pharmacists in the day to day patient care. 

Group of students together after dinner

At Dr. Kahiga’s home with students from Kenyatta University and University of Science Philadelphia

As we were coming to the end of our electives, we were privileged to be hosted by Dr. Kahiga Titus for a luncheon at his home in Kitengela-Kajiado. Here I was able to meet a lot more students from Kenyatta University, meet the Students from Philadelphia again and still meet many officials from the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board. This was a moment to grow social and professional circles.

Lessons learnt

As the medical discipline is known to be a monkey see monkey do business, for the knowledge we can read and acquire but skills have to be passed on through apprenticeship. With a very good mentor assigned to me as my supervisor, my rotation in Pediatrics and Child health at The Mater Hospital made the love for the discipline glow more and more. Being in Mater Hospital, a state of art hospital, I learnt a lot about comprehensive patient care and the practice of medicine in the concept of family care. I also got a deeper understanding of the importance of team practice in patient care. These two aspects of which I believe will enable me grow into a better healthcare provider. With the disease patterns slightly differing in Nairobi as compared to Kampala, I was able to experience child health in a new environment and learn of management of common childhood diseases in Kenya as compared to Uganda. This enabled widen my scope of thinking as a clinical student which is an important aspect in patient care. This coupled with the many differences in health policies made me better appreciate some of the concepts of global health.

Future commitments

The name may be called GEMx exchanges but personally I customized it as GAME CHANGER for the experience, knowledge and skills acquired. I can undoubtedly say it has been a cornerstone in my medical education and I believe it has already shaped my path as a future health worker. Talent may be everywhere but opportunity isn’t, thus I am committed to pass on information about GEMx exchanges to other students within and outside my university so as they may be able to gain the same experience or even better.

 

 

A Conversation Between Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Madwadde and Faith Nawagi

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Faith Nawagi, GEMx Regional Representative in Africa, recently spent time with Dr. Elise Kiguli-Madwadde to discuss her work as a physician, faculty member, and medical educator, as well her work with AFREHealth interdisciplinary health professional forum in Africa.  GEMx has been working in partnership with AFREHealth to pilot a network of regional exchanges among existing network partners in Africa. To read more about these Regional Exchanges in Africa please visit http://www.gemxelectives.org/regional-partners-africa/.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

GEMx Program Manager Spotlight: Claudia Elena Villegas Stellyes, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Colombia)

Filed under: GEMx Program Manager Spotlights

Photo of Claudia

 A spotlight on Claudia Elena Villegas Stellyes,  Curriculum Development Coordinator at GEMx Partner, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Colombia)

What lead you to your current position of Curriculum Development Coordinator at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana? 
Since I was a medical student I was amazed about the possibility of share knowledge through out teaching. After I get my degree on medical school, I pursue a master´s degree on Education and Human Development. During my work on medical school and my postgraduate studies I had the opportunity to approach at areas such curriculum, teaching and learning methods and assesment. I wish to be part of projects and activities that could improve the process of learning and human development of my students and colleagues. Also work on medical education research and Internationalization.

Photo of Claudia's campus in Colombia

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

Tell us about yourself: For example, What is your background? Where are you originally from? What are your hobbies?
I´m from Medellín, Colombia. I studied at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Medical School, where I work right now. Also I got my master´s degree on Education and Human Development in Universidad de Manizales – Cinde. I´ve worked as physician on general practice, and teacher, tutor and academic coordinator of clinical years on Medical School. Right now I´m an associated professor and Curricula Development Coordinator. I like to read, photograph, go to the movies, ear music, travel to know about different places and cultures, do some workouts, and share with my family and friends.

What is your favorite part about being a faculty member at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana?
Sharing knowledge and life experiences with my students and colleagues

Describe how GEMx international exchange students may benefit by going on an elective at your institution.
I believe that there are so many things that include, the warmth and solidarity of our students, the high quality of our teachers, the opportunity of practice and develop competences and skills through out both learning and doing and the richness of our culture.

Another photo of Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana's campus

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

How has the GEMx system helped you organize both incoming and outgoing students going on elective exchanges?
GEMx has helped in so many aspects, issues and ways. Always I’ve received a 100% of support of GEMx team. Every time I write, I get a quick answer and help.

What have you heard from your own students who have gone on a GEMx elective exchange?
That it´s an unique experience that helped them to grow not just as a professional, also as human being. The possibility of go to other places and learn about patients, peers, other educational and health systems and cultures is so worthy.

What is your favorite feature of the GEMx system?
It centralizes global experiences on medical education and provides unique opportunities for our students.

Would you recommend the GEMx program and its system to other schools and institutions in your region? 
Yes of course. I believe it’s so important and will help to promote integration and the growth of the networking. Also the development of projects related to medical education and cooperation between institutions.

To learn more about the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Facultad de Medicina, please visit their GEMx partner profile page at http://www.gemxelectives.org/colombia-medellin/upb/ and check out their electives in the GEMx system!

GEMx Elective Reflections – GEMx African Regional Exchange Experience

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Kennedy Omondi Ogutu, BScN Student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (KENYA) in 2nd week of GEMx elective at University of Zimbabwe (ZIMBABWE)

PRE-DEPARTURE

GEMx student steps off plan for exchange

Indeed, I lack words to express my sincere gratitudes to the GEMx committee represented by Carol Noel Russo, the host coordinator at the University of Zimbabwe, Mrs. Hope Chuma Vunganayi and my school GEMx coordinator at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Dr.Monicah Karara.

It is my pleasure to thank you all for your commitment and determination made to ensure my elective at University of Zimbabwe attached at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals become a success.

As a medical student, it was always my dream to participate in an exchange program outside my country in order for me to learn and gain skills on how healthcare systems workout in other countries.It was with much joy and happiness when I received an email congratulating me for being elected to participate in GEMx elective at the University of Zimbabwe (MEPI), to me the medical elective was a golden opportunity which only comes once in a lifetime. I was prepared both psychologically and physically to participate in the elective and make it a success.

ACCOMODATION AND ORIENTATION ACCOMODATION.

GEMx Student in housing accomodations

The day I arrived at Harare International Airport, I was received warmly, I felt at home. Later on, I was taken to the place of residence within the University. Indeed it is a well-furnished guest house meant for visitors who come for elective at the University of Zimbabwe. The house is conducive for learning activities and well secured. Indeed it is nice and comfortable.

CULTURE

The main languages spoken in Zimbabwe is Shona and English. I found it quite a challenge adapting the language because most of the places, the commonly used language is Shona. This led to some communication barriers at times but I was able to cope through the interpreters.

ORIENTATION TO PARIRENYATWA HOSPITAL.

My 2nd day in Zimbabwe, I was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital located near University of Zimbabwe, College of Health Sciences.  It is the largest referral hospital in Zimbabwe, with well-equipped facilities and personnel. I was privileged to be oriented by one of the students at Parirenyatwa School of Nursing. It was a very nice learning exposure while at the hospital. I got the opportunity of visiting almost all the departments in Parirenyatwa Hospital despite the largeness of the hospital. Among the departments I visited were the paediatrics ward, surgical ward, medical ward, the oncology ward, the Intensive Care Unit, the labour and delivery ward, the accident and emergency department among the very many departments in it.

CLINICAL ROTATION AT THE LABOUR AND DELIVERY WARD.

Based on the elective that I chose, majorly dealing with obstetrics and gynaecology, I was attached to the labour and delivery ward for a two week experience

I report to the labour and delivery ward at 7am, where reports from the nightshift duty staff is given to the staff starting of the duty. The reports on the patient was given inform of case presentation.It was a very nice learning session to me during the ward rounds and giving off the patients report. Ward rounds were conducted with the presence of the Obstetrics consultants, the midwives, interns and the students. Different aspects on different patients were discussed based on their condition. The staff were able to teach us the very many obstetrics emergencies and complications and their management. Being a referral hospital, I was able to witness most of the complications related to labour and delivery and their management. Among the complications I came across was post-partum haemorrhage, breech presentation, retained placenta among many others emergencies and complications.

View of Parirenyatwa Hospital

View of Parirenyatwa Hospital

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS OBTAINED

For the duration less than 2 weeks that I was attached to the department, I have been able to meet my objectives in the labour and delivery ward.  Among the very many objectives set and which have been achieved include; the assessment of a pregnant woman, prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS, management of women with post-partum haemorrhage, eclampsia etc, management of babies with special needs, performing and suturing of an episiotomy, administration of medication used during labour and delivery. Finally, was conducting labour and delivery.

IT IS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.

LESSONS LEARNT

GEMx exchange student in hospital
GEMx Exchange Student in front of university sign
I believe in improving and prolonging the lives of human beings through a holistic approach of healthcare services to humanity. It feels good when a patient who was critically ill, bed-ridden and was not be able to do activities of daily living, gets well as a result of good health care service offered to them. I learnt that medical practice is similar globally, and it needs teamwork, sharing of knowledge and empathy to patients in order to ensure holistic approach of care to patients.

From the deeper recess of my heart,/ express my sincere gratitude to GEMx for giving me this wonderful “golden opportunity”

 

GOD BLESS

 

 

GEMx Elective Reflections – Exchange from Fundación Universitaria Juan N. Corpas (Colombia) to University of Tunis El Manar (Tunisia)

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events, GEMx Student Reflections

GEMx has had the pleasure of not only extending travel grants to students going on GEMx system elective exchanges but has been an active supporter of  student developed and led competitions and exchanges. We have aided CiCoM and IQMU, and more recently supported the Student Network Organization of The Network –TUFH to implement the 2017 pilot, GEMx-SNO-International Exchange Internship, which occurred in conjunction with the World Summit on Social Accountability Conference in Tunisia   

GEMx provided funds for Alejandro Avelino Bonilla of Juan N. Corpas University (Colombia)  and Vishnupriya Vijayalekshmi  of Kerala University of Health Sciences (India), two SNO member students, to cover their roundtrip airfare to Tunisia, accommodation fees and daily budgeted meal allowances while they undertook their internship experience at University of Tunis al Manar Faculty of Medicine. ECFMG and its GEMx program appreciated the opportunity to partner with SNO in this pilot and is honored  to share their experience with all of you here!

Post by Alejandro Avelino Bonilla, Medical Student at Universidad Juan N. Corpas (Colombia) who completed a GEMx Elective at University of Tunis El Manar (Tunisia)

Exchange experience

I had the incredible opportunity to do the international exchange internship in the department of infectious and communicable diseases in La Rabta Hospital.  From the  beginning,  due to  the  last minute changes, it was difficult to know the details of the internship, the communication with  the local organizer was almost null (which is understandable because he found himself busy working on the event). Despite these drawbacks, I couldn’t wait for it to begging, I was very excited because it was my first  international internship. I felt  somewhat anxious because I didn’t prepare  properly about  of the  pathologies  because the  epidemiology is really different in Tunisia compared with Colombia. I knew that I would  have to study a lot but I was born for challenges.

Alejandro and Vishnu sitting in a room
For this experience  I had the pleasure of being accompanied by Vishnu, a medical  student  from  India whom  I already knew  but  we forged  a very strong  friendship. The first  day the  head of the  service welcomed us, greeted  and congratulated us, then  explained  our duties and the day to day activities  and what  was expected  of  us. In the  morning we would attend  the  service meeting  where  the  new  patients  are presented  and people  from  other  departments ask for  advice on the  management of complicated patients. Then we took a brief  rest and then we review  the patients   assigned.  Vital  signs, general  physical  examination,  physical examination focused on the  disease and review  of paraclinics, just like any other intern. On Tuesday a general round was being held in the men’s hall, and on Thursdays through  the women’s  hall with the head of the service, together with  all the residents  and interns. The cases and its particular management were discussed and the necessary studies were requested.

Every day we had lunch with  someone  different, we made friends quickly and they took us to different places,mainly traditional food restaurants,  it   was  quite   a  culinary   experience.   Later  in  the afternoons there were classes or discussions of cases but they were done in French which  was a great  difficulty for us and eventually we stopped  attending. We used the  afternoons to study the pathologies  and to  know  little by little the  city.  The cases in the department were  extremely interesting and medium-high complexity,  so  that   each  day  was  more   interesting than   the previous  one, I highlight  the  case of an older  adult  patient who suffered left temporal lobe necrosis secondary to a herpes type  2 infection And HIV.

Students and Faculty Discussing Medicine Around a Table
Students  were  key to  us, many  times  interns  and residents  had too much work, so they took care of us especially to translate  and help us to examine patients  and understand cases. On a couple  of occasions in the  afternoons we  accompanied the residents  and students  in external  consultation, it was interesting  to see how the people who attended the  consultation were  also very open to foreigners. Finally in the last days of the rotation the intensity of the questions increased to evaluate our academic performance, in  some points it became difficult to answer  questions  in English (while  speaking  French or Arabic  among  them) having to think some things in Spanish and answer. In English, was a very beneficial experience  for my mental  and learning  process. Vishnu left first that I,  as  an  inmate   in  her  hospital   were expected many responsibilities and commitments and it was hard to see her leave.

Skull X-Rays
Being alone, my new friends took care of me and every day I stayed in the house of one of them, during these days I had the opportunity to live the day to day life of a native, clear medical student, and this forged an even stronger  bond with my friends  and with the country. All the time they were waiting for me, if I wanted  something, if I had already  gone  to  all  the  places, etc  …  I felt  like  in  my  country, surrounded by my best friends. The last day was difficult to say goodbye to the members  of the service, in fact it was easier for me to leave a letter, than to tell them  what  I felt  because I can be too emotional. After  saying goodbye  to each of my friends  and acquaintances, I went home to prepare the suitcase and left Tunisia but I carry in my heart a part of this country, its people and its food.

It was one of the  most  wonderful experiences  I have had and I have to  thank  GEMx infinitely for  this opportunity.

 

Lessons learned

Photo of Students at University of Tunis
From all this experience, I can say with conviction that the most important thing I learned in Tunisia was that no matter the country, medical education and clinical practice have great similarities, they face similar difficulties and the medical team must come up with  plans so they can provide  the best service with the means available. I remember that in my motivational letter  to apply mentioned the fact of knowing the health system of other countries  to complement my training and my projection to one day be health minister, and now after this internship I must say that this goal is stronger than ever. My  passion and my future is public  health  and this  experience  has strengthened me and motivated me to continue working hard and so, someday, to be able to generate a big impact  on the health of communities.

Selfie of Alejandro and Vishnu with Tunisian Students
Finally I learned that the love for medicine, the devotion to patients  is the same in Colombia, India or Tunisia. Physicians and other members  of the health team are willing to make large sacrifices for the benefit  of patients  and communities. It is the beauty of this art.

Potential research project ideas

The idea of carrying  out  a study  on antimicrobial resistance arose, in which  the characteristics  of each country  are profiled and evidenced and then a global comparison is made. This project will be developed  from SNO and I will supervise this personally  as President of this organization.

Alejandro and Vishnu on University of Tunis Campus
I want to thank GEMx infinitely for  this opportunity, it has strengthened and motivated me psychologically and academically.  My motivation to look  for my future could not be clearer and stronger.

Thank you.

Alejandro with a Hawk on His Shoulder

GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Network Organization (SNO) Exchange at University of Tunis El Manar (Tunisia)

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events, GEMx Student Reflections

GEMx has had the pleasure of not only extending travel grants to students going on GEMx system elective exchanges but has been an active supporter of  student developed and led competitions and exchanges. We have aided CiCoM and IQMU, and more recently supported the Student Network Organization of The Network –TUFH to implement the 2017 pilot, GEMx-SNO-International Exchange Internship, which occurred in conjunction with the World Summit on Social Accountability Conference in Tunisia   

GEMx provided funds for Alejandro Avelino Bonilla of Juan N. Corpas University (Colombia)  and Vishnupriya Vijayalekshmi  of Kerala University of Health Sciences (India), two SNO member students, to cover their roundtrip airfare to Tunisia, accommodation fees and daily budgeted meal allowances while they undertook their internship experience at University of Tunis al Manar Faculty of Medicine. ECFMG and its GEMx program appreciated the opportunity to partner with SNO in this pilot and is honored  to share their experience with all of you here!

Post by Vishnupriya Vijayalekshmi, Medical Student at Kerala University of Health Sciences (India) who completed a GEMx Elective at University of Tunis El Manar (Tunisia)

EXCHANGE EXPERIENCE:

Vishnu in front of Social Accountability Sign

Pre-departure:

As a medical student,it was my dream to go for an exchange program and to experience  the  culture and to learn about the health care system in a different country.From my high school days,Tunisia has always fascinated me with its diversified culture and tradition.I was really excited when I received the mail,mentioning  that I have been selected for the exchange,that too in the University of Tunis El Manar.But the initial excitement later became confusion and sadness when I had some unexpected trouble with the visa.Till the last moment.l  was not sure if I will be able make to it.But finally,everything ended up well and I could attend the World Summit on Social Accountability and fulfill my long cherished dream of an exchange program.

Accomodation and briefing about internship:

The essence of an internship program is team work.I was quite sad when I came to know that the other 2 selected winners couldn’t make it to the exchange.But  finally,it was my pleasure to have Alejandro from Juan.N. Corpas University,Colombia as my companion .Though we have known each other for the past one year,the internship was the beginning of a friendship for a life time and a couple of beautiful memories.

The day we reached Tunis,the acivity co-ordinator,Chiheb gave us a warm welcome and took us to the apartment arranged for us at Manza Zanc.Though  it was distant from the university,the apartment was really nice and we were comfortable.The  only little problem,was the communication  with the owner,who speaks only French and Arabic.

The next day,we were taken to the Hospital La rabta,department of Infectious and Communicable diseases.As I hail from Kerala,a state in the southern part of lndia,where infectious and communicable diseases are quite prevalent,I was really curious to learn about the cases here , make out the similarities and differences and learn the treatment modalities.

After a quick and brief introductory session,we joined the case presentation session in the morning.Though  it was in French,the interns (Aziz and Ousama) did a great job translating it to English and making us feel comfortable.After  the session,we were given briefing about the internship timing and the activities we were supposed to do in the department.

Clinics:

Clinics started with the case presentations  in the morning which were very informative.lnfact,the difference in the spectrum of infectious disease as compared   the Indian scenario made it really interesting.After  the session,we joined for rounds,where the faculty ,residents ,interns and externs discussed about the cases ,in between questions were asked and the professors clarified our doubts.There  were 2 floors -one for the male and the other for the female patients.In  spite of the busy work,they managed to teach us about the different treatment regimens and we did clinical examination as well.The students(externs)were also really helpful.We also had the opportunity to join the consultant in the out patient department .We also made a point to read about the cases we saw at the hospital,once we were back in the apartment.A fact which deserves special mention is that,even though language was a barrier, the hospital staff and the patients were very friendly and we felt like being in our home country,in our own hospital and that made us really comfortable.

X ray image

An interesting case of ‘cannon ball metastases’, in a 54 year old gentleman

Afternoon session :

In the afternoon session,there were seminars and case discussions.But  since everything was in French,we attend a few sessions and then decided to utilize the time to explore the beauty of Tunis and savour the diversified Tunisian cuisines.In spite of the busy schedule,our Tunisian friends spared their time  and made sure that we visited the historical places in Tunis ,and enjoyed the traditional Tunisian dishes.As someone who is allergic to egg,I was worried regarding the food,but I was really happy that my friends  were all very understanding  and took care of it very well and never made me feel that I am all alone in a foreign country.

Altogether,the exchange program has been the best thing ever happened in my life.  lt  was a great opportunity to learn,to observe and explore,but above all it was a wonderful chance to make friendship which would last for a lifetime and take back a bunch of indelible memories.Not  even a single moment,we felt that we were far way from India and Colombia and were in a different country in a different continent./ had to leave early,and I was literally in tears when I said bye to Alejandro and left him alone ,as in those 2 weeks,we had really become best friends.

Its hard to bid adieu to people and places which gave us so much to remember.The  country,the people,the food ,had already taken away a piece of my heart and saying bye to my friends who gifted me the best few days of my life was so hard and I tried my best to hold back the emotion and promise them that I will come back to Tunis ... ...….......

LESSONS LEARNED:

As someone who is really interested in medicine,the  first hand experience  in the department of infectious and communicable diseases,strengthened my passion for the subject and has inspired me to be a good clinician and dedicate myself for the service of the community.  Even  though,there is no similarity at all between the community in Tunis and lndia, l could find similarities in the patient care and the treatment practices  and the differences which I could make out in the treatment regimens and the diagnostic approach of the cases can be disseminated among my community and shared with the medical professionals and it can open up the door for future advancement  in the arena of patient care.  
Above all, l learned that in spite of the dissimilarities,the essence of medical profession,is team work,sharing of knowledge and having an attitude of empathy and concern for the patients and as a future health care provider, I have to develop all these qualities and be the flag bearer for the betterment of the society.

POTENTIAL RESEARCH PROJECT IDEAS:

Antibiotic resistance is an emerging problem in the global scenario.Different studies have been conducted on this at  regional and international levels,but SNO has the planned to conduct a study on this ,with student community as active participants.  The spectrum of antibiotic resistance in different countries will be assessed and a meta analysis will be made at globallevei.  As the first step,it has been discussed in an interactive session with the students at the faculty of medicine,of the University of Tunis El Manar and the study will be the prime initiative of the SNO team 2017.

FUTURE PROSPECTS:

Getting inspiration from this,I thought about the possibility of creating a platform for an exchange program and received the support from the Emergency Medicine department of Malankara Orthodox Syrian

Church Medical College,Kerala,lndia which is in partnership  with the Indo-US Health & Medicine Collaborative.The department is really interested to receive students from around the world and give them first hand experience  in trauma care.The outline for a 3 week training programme,dividing trauma care into 3 phases: pre -hospital,in-hospital and post-hospital  care is in process and will be sent soon for approval from the Kerala University of Health Sciences. The SNO Team 2017 is looking forward to work on this,with the continued support and encouragement from GEMx  and believe that just like the amazing experience we had in Tunis, this would widen the horizon the students and will be an asset in their career as the future health professionals.

” From the deeper recess of my heart,I express my sincere gratitude to GEMx and SNO for giving me this wonderful opportunity”

 

Going Outside the “Comfort Zone”- a snapshot of GEMx post-elective experiences

Filed under: From GEMx Staff

Carol Russo
Post by Carol Russo, GEMx Senior Coordinator

Working for a program that offers access to international medical exchanges provides a reminder of how engaging in new situations, environments and systems not only provides alternate perspectives but affords opportunities of self discovery.

While I personally had an international exchange experience while a student in college, it was not a medical elective exchange. This was in the days of the internet’s infancy and my university’s study abroad office still housed all of its exchange opportunities in 500 page binders categorized by geographical regions. I ultimately chose and was accepted to a multicourse exchange in Siena, Italy.  I easily recall those initial moments while on my exchange where I felt overwhelmed by something as simple as deciphering a campus bus schedule or my inability to procure correct currency for basic purchases. However, I also carry with me that by self realizing my  weaknesses could provide opportunities for me to self-adapt and grow as a person in the larger human world.

GEMx has always been interested in hearing how students perceive their exchanges upon their returns and I would like to share some of these reflections with you as they demonstrate the profound and personal takeaways when  one allows to be challenged by immersion in a different culture and place.

“The first lesson in this experience I had, was to break the language barrier that were between the patients and me, I think was the most difficult task, because they where used to consult local doctors, and as I started to interact, it was not that easy. Over and over, you start to learn how to approach people and pathologies. The country I visited is also in ways to develop as mine, but smaller. So I could compare and [analyze] how they solve their health problems and social problems, I visited a lot of Tibetan and classic medicine centers, in which I talked with the local healers and communicate and learn about their most [common diseases] and how the manage them. “

“I feel that I am more confident. Having the opportunity to see how is it out there makes me a better person and a person who is able to try and attempt in thinking outside of the box for the betterment of all. Also, I began to appreciate more on what is here for me and the society in my country. One of the most striking aspect was the fact that junior doctors there in Indonesia including post graduate specialist trainees in Indonesian Hospitals are actually not paid any salary or wages. Despite of these difficulties they are still very much comfortable and striving their ways in their career on how they could benefit the society.”

“The only difficulty and disappointment that one would initially have would be that the medical system is in Hebrew. But, it is worth an experience to overcome this challenge by finding new friends who could help you. At the end, you will agree that language barrier is never an hindrance for you to learn but rather it opens a new path to build good and long standing relationships.”

“Many times when I was there, I felt so left behind and far off from the standard they live up to. Being surrounded in a mentally challenging environment can push you to be better, but it can also be draining and make you feel very small. It took me quite some time to regain myself and admit that Im inadequate. Once I embraced the fact, I started asking questions when I dont understand, participated in discussions, and soon enough I realized I’m learning a lot more. I was touched that the professors, senior residents, and interns I work with were very helpful once I open[ed] up.”

Oftentimes, experiencing the unfamiliar can carry more portents in shaping who and how we are in the future; it is up to the individual to discover how being vulnerable can deliver the most lasting lessons.

Student Exchange From MOSC Medical College (India) to Penang Medical College (Malaysia) by Prannoy Paul

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Prannoy Paul, Medical Student at Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College (India) who completed a GEMx Elective at Penang Medical College (Malaysia)

Our institution, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College, Kolenchery, Kerala, India, has always encouraged students to get more exposure in medicine by attending various medical competitions and medical student conferences happening around the world. It was in December 2016, that the GEMx coordinator of our institution, Dr. Anna Mathew informed me that I and my friend Kiron are selected for the GEMx student elective for the year of 2017 from our institution. I was really excited hearing the news, but I was also uncertain about how it is going to be or where should I be going.

Photo of MOSC Students at Airport

At the airport

While we were discussing about which institution to apply for the elective, it so happened that the GEMx representative from USA, Mr. Justin Seeling visited our institution for the promotion of GEMx. We had an opportunity to talk with him and he recommended that Penang medical College, Malaysia would be a good choice for us. So we contacted Penang Medical college, sent all the documents required and we got approved for the elective in the department of Surgery for the month of May, 2017.

Photo of Penang Medical College Taken by MOSC Students

Penang Medical College (PMC) is a private, Malaysian campus owned by two world-renowned medical universities in Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the University
College Dublin (UCD). PMC is affiliated to the Penang General Hospital, also known as Hospital Pulau Pinang, which is very near the medical college campus. Being the largest public hospital in Penang with 1090 beds, Penang general hospital is always busy with patients.

Photo of MOSC Students with Professors of Surgery and Medicine

With Professors of Surgery and Medicine

On our first day at PMC, we were introduced to Penang Medical College and Penang General Hospital by the administrative officer at PMC, Ms. Masitah Sihabudeen and we got an orientation session about the college. Our supervisor for the elective was Dr. Premnath, the head of Department for Surgery at PMC. We were grouped along with the final year students there at PMC.

Photo of MOSC Students with With Surgery Unit C2 at Penang Medical College

With Surgery Unit C2

In the mornings, we had to go to the wards to clerk the patients and take cases. Patients spoke mainly Malay, Chinese and English. For the patients who spoke Malay and Chinese, we were provided with translators to help with our communication. The students there were also very helpful in our communication with the patients. I was able to see and understand many diseases that are not very common here. We discussed often about the variety of diseases and surgical conditions that present to the hospital, and how it was different in India.

In the afternoons, we had various sessions like seminars, tutorials, case presentations etc. Professors and students ensured that I actively participate in those sessions and asked me to explain how various procedures were done in my country and how it was different from that being done in Malaysia. Those sessions were filled with lots of fun along with gaining new knowledge .Our classes in the mornings would begin as early as 7 am on some days and the afternoon classes typically lasts till 5pm. Saturdays and Sundays were holidays. Apart from that, there are also many local holidays every month in Penang due to the rich cultural heritage of the city. Throughout the elective, our supervisors and student representatives were always in touch with us to know if they can help us with anything.

Photo of MOSC Students with the GEMx Student Ambassadors at Penang Medical College

With GEMx Student Ambassadors of PMC

The GEMx student ambassadors at PMC were Syafaf Humaira Aman and Yik Chin Low. They were very helpful to us throughout our stay in Penang. They helped us with our academic doubts, took us to the major tourist destinations and also helped us try out some local cuisine in Malaysia.

Malaysia is a favorite tourist destination for tourists all over the world. On holidays, we were able to visit some of the major tourist destinations in Penang. Our friends at PMC and even the professors suggested good places to visit for the holidays. Penang is also very famous for the food. It is called the food heaven of Malaysia. The varieties of foods include Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Penang is also very famous for its very delicious but cheap street food which is a very important attraction for the tourists visiting Penang.

Photo of Transportation in Malaysia

The population in Malaysia is mainly Malay, with others being Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians, and other indigenous people. Islam is the state religion while many other religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity are also common. Languages spoken include Malay, which is the official language, English, and Tamil.

As most people, especially the younger generation spoke English very well, communication was not a problem for us while in Malaysia. People were very friendly and helpful. If we asked someone for the way to a place, they would eagerly tell us in detail. The hospitality of the Malaysian people made our stay, a very comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Photo of Malaysian Cuisine

Char Keoy Teow

The elective to Penang Medical College in Malaysia was a wonderful experience for me. It helped me understand how the health systems and medical education work in Malaysia and  how to interact with patients, medical students, and professors from another country. I also learned and understood the differences in medical conditions and health care in another country and achieved a broader, a global perspective in medicine. I recommend more students make use of the fantastic student exchange program provided by GEMx, it is very easy to apply to, and we are supervised in each step of the elective. The elective improves our academic knowledge, our communication skills, confidence, and our very perspective about medicine and about the world.

GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Exchange from Penang Medical College, Malaysia to University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Thaneswaran Jeyakrishnan, Medical Student at Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who completed a GEMx Elective at Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia)

Student Exchange from Penang Medical College, Malaysia to University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
I have now completed an elective course of 4 weeks in a tertiary hospital named RS Dr. Sardijito in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The course comprises of 2 weeks of being in surgical rotation and 2 weeks in Orthopedics. I have chosen this place via the GEMx School Partnership program that was offered in my home institution (Penang Medical College, Georgetown, Malaysia). After being selected by my institution I was offered a range of options to carry out electives, all of which were listed in the website in terms of the GEMx Partner Schools and the courses they offered. I chose Indonesia mainly because of its expanding expertise in medicine and surgery in the expense of a low-resource setting especially with the burden from the rural areas and the ever growing population. RS Sardijito is a university hospital, attached to a reputable Indonesian public university called University of Gajah Mada. My time was entirely spent in the hospital and I was able to use the university facilities such as the library which was situated in close proximity to the hospital.

Thaneswaran Jeyakrishnan
Initially before embarking the elective, I was brought on an orientation to visit the facilities in Sardijito Hospital. The students from the university there was very welcoming regarding my visit. On the first day of my rotation, I introduced myself to the supervisor whom was the person-in-charge for me and he gave me a brief outline of the possible activities that I could benefit during the rotation. I was then placed in a group of residents who are doing their postgraduate course and for most of the times I was in this team of doctors whom I have been tagging along. The beautiful aspect of work in this hospital is that everything that is done here was more of team-work whereby the residents would help each other out and together they divide their tasks besides updating each other about their patients’ condition. I find this method very efficacious not only theoretically in preventing overworked atmosphere but it is healthy in many ways in maintaining the best patient care. Moreover, the residents working as a team teach and guide each other at all times. My routine usually starts as early as 6 am when the residents would do their patient-visiting and review their cases. At around 7.30 am in the morning report presentation would take place where the residents would present their cases in PowerPoint slides to the panel of specialists and consultants. There would be exchange of questions and queries which were all beneficial in the point of view of learning. I learned about the importance of a good presentation skill which comes with practice. I understand that only through discussion and reflection that one would be a better doctor. After this, I would usually go to either the operating theater or the outpatient clinic.

Thaneswaran Jeyakrishnan photo 2
The residents here in Indonesia have all been so welcoming, friendly and helpful. Something to be highlighted here is the way they handle patients- besides being friendly and caring, they show enormous amount of empathy towards their patients via body language, verbal and actions all of which are explicitly patient-centered. Perhaps it is the culture of politeness here that has shaped these doctors to be very empathic but I can assure that these values came-forward so often here not only in just the patient-doctor setting but even in my everyday lives in Indonesia. Since my stay here I realize that the locals are very helpful and friendly in which there were many situations when the locals tend to offer helping hands even though if you don’t ask for one. There are lots of ‘sorry’ and ‘thank yous’ going around in their own way of language expressions and sign. I believe that these are something that should be modelled everywhere else too. In terms of the patient care, the social aspects are always taken into serious consideration especially in terms of patient’s access and transport to hospital, finance and support from the family. Whilst this is how it should be anywhere globally, nevertheless there are many circumstances when doctors somehow omit these aspects of care when there is overcrowding and overwhelming stress especially in developing countries with low-resource settings. This is one of my salient learning point during my elective course in Indonesia which is to pay attention on how patient is going to recover in a long-term. During the course here, the senior residents here were very encouraging and they have provided adequate guidance for me.

 

 

GEMx Staff Post: Introducing Angel Roman, GEMx Coordinator

Filed under: From GEMx Staff

Angel Roman
Post by Angel Roman, GEMx Coordinator 

Hello everyone!  My name is Angel Roman and I am the newest member to the GEMx Staff. I joined ECFMG in 2010 as a member of the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) at ECFMG. My time in ERAS expanded my knowledge of the process for which International Medical Graduates undergo to enter into U.S Graduate Medical Education (GME). The principal reason of why I joined GEMx was to renew my working relationship with past ERAS employees, Justin Seeling (GEMx Program Manager) and Carol Russo (GEMx Senior Coordinator).

 motorcycles
At the forefront of my decision however, was  gaining a broader understanding of global health education systems and how cross cultural awareness could serve to develop a better understanding of some diseases. In my new role as GEMx Coordinator, I will serve as the point of contact for new institutions by assisting with the onboarding process as partners in GEMx global and regional network exchanges.

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and returned after attending college in North Carolina. The transition between living in a large city such as Philadelphia and attending school at a small campus located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina was indeed a culture shock. I am certain that any student who has had the opportunity to participate in an elective abroad has experienced varying degrees of “culture shock”. One key difference between Philadelphia and my college campus is the closing times for local businesses. In Philadelphia the closing times vary from 10pm -2am, however on my small Southern campus, all but one store closed at 9pm. Returning home after college granted me well needed time to spend with family and friends (and convenient shopping times!)

dog
My passion for mechanics and the love for speed developed from my bond with my father who taught me everything there is to know about how to both race and fix cars and motorcycles. I have recently completed a restoration of my father’s old school Harley Davidson. Most of my free time is spent exploring the ever growing food scene in Philadelphia with my wife Richmary and dog Ace.

I am excited about joining the GEMx team and look forward to hopefully meeting some of you in person.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by email at aroman@ecfmg.org.