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Elective experience in the Incredible India

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Faizah Ramle, Medical Student from Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Kasturba Medical College Manipal (India)

Dates of exchange – November 7, 2016 to December 7, 2016

Faizah Ramle, Medical Student from Penang Medical College

I had the privilege to conduct my elective posting for 4 weeks in Manipal, Karnataka, India. As a country that has established one of the world’s earliest civilization, India has presented me with nothing short of what I had expected. Colorful, loud, and vibrant- the whole nation has an energy like no other.

I was honored to be guided by Professor Manjunatha Hande, the head of department of Internal Medicine in Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal. Under his guidance, I had been able to join ward rounds, clinics and also bed side teachings with the final year medical  students of KMC.  I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to get to know local patients better, learn about medical conditions that I would have never seen back home in Malaysia, and indulge in the local learning environment in India.

Faizah Ramle completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Kasturba Medical College Manipal

Throughout my learning expedition in India, I was surrounded with a group of incredibly smart, confident and well-read students. They are cultivated to memorize and be hard-working from a very tender age. Being the second most populous country in the world, medicine is one of the most competitive and expensive field to get yourself into, and students there take it as no joke.

Being surrounded in a mentally challenging environment can be good. For one,  it pushes you to step up your game to live up to their standards. You too have to be as confident and out spoken as the local students are. However, at times this can also be rather draining. More often than not, I felt very inferior to my peers. Being  2000 miles away  from home doesn’t help either; you don’t exactly have your family and support system with you.

learning expedition in India
But I realized that this is how it meant to feel like when you stepped out of your comfort zone. In situations like this, you have no other choice but to stand on your own two feet. Personal growth happens when you are put in situations that gives you an opportunity to grow and mature. A higher benchmark prevents you from becoming complacent with what you have, hence drives you to be better. Once I accepted my weakness, I managed to learn a lot by asking questions and opening up more. This bunch of smart people shouldn’t make me feel small and disheartened, they act as a booster, and offered me an opportunity to learn.

Challenges do not confide themselves within the four walls of the hospital.

No matter where you are in the world, another existential problem would be the language barrier. Either it is because of the disparity in education level, or in this case-  you’re  in  a  country  with  a  completely  different  set  of  vocabulary  and accent. Although discussions and teachings are conducted in English, it wasn’t until the second week of the elective posting that I was able to comprehend what was being uttered and became comfortable to participate in the discussions.

In the hospital, everyone will remain professional and I was quite happy with the hospitality I received.  However, do understand that there will be miscommunications  and  frustrating  moments  in  dealing  with  admins.  There  is still no clear policy being made to manage and guide the international students, and you have to be quick on your feet to solve issues that arise. Expect problems to be on a national scale even. I was unlucky enough to experience the government abolishing certain Indian rupees overnight to overcome the “black money” issue in the country. Despite saying all this, dealing with these problems was what brought me to experience the true Indian culture.

Manipal, India
All in all, India has opened my eyes to remind me how blessed I am to be able to study medicine in Ireland and Malaysia. Medicine is neither a race, nor a competition to see who the best is. I am fortunate to be surrounded in a supportive and healthy community, that fits to the way I embrace medicine. Here the systems enrich us to develop holistically, to understand, rather than to memorize and mug up for the sake of exams. My experience in India has taught me to value what I have back home, and be thankful with the blessings in this country.

A message from GEMx Regional Representative in Africa – Faith Nawagi

Filed under: From GEMx Staff, GEMx Regional Exchanges

Post by Faith Nawagi, GEMx Regional Representative 


Faith Nawagi, GEMx Regional Representative

It all began in 2014 when I attended The Network TUFH conference in Fortaleza Brazil. I met Ms. Anna Iacone who was really passionate about global exposure for medical students. Having been volunteering at my school back then at the international office  I thought this would be a great opportunity for our school but also bearing in mind that i had strong interest in internationalization in health professional training. My roles at the international  office back home were really too basic These involved helping with orienting exchange students and faculty by taking them around the hospital and adapting to the life around Uganda by showing them places that would enable them get their basic needs. In 2015 I was lucky to be one of the winners of the student Projects for Health which was sponsored by GEMx in Gauteng South Africa under the Network TUFH. While there, I met the entire GEMx team and we discussed more on possible roles and ways to enhance visibility in Africa for GEMx.

Faith Nawagi, GEMx Africa representative
In 2016, GEMx launched the regional exchange program in Africa to enhance global exposure for students as they train to become future health practioners. In the same year I took up a role as the GEMx Africa representative where i played an imperative role to bring on board 24 African medical institutions to provide elective programs for medical and other health professional students. This was through working with the various networks that are existent in the region. These include, MEPI, COECSA, NEPI and EAHPHEA. With the various associations meetings were held with the board and GEMx representation for interested schools to sign up was through an Exhibition booth, abstract pre
sentation and modulation of conference sessions. Late in 2016 we worked on ensuring all schools submit the required documents.  The electives are to be up and running this year 2017. As the project is implemented various aspects of research and strengthening partnerships will also be looked at.  In addition I also serve as the Co-chair on the Student Ambassador Network for GEMx new brooding consortia of students for the various GEMx schools with great potential to enhance GEMx visibility yet at the same time promoting cross cultural linkages and global learning opportunities and interaction.

GEMx has offered the best platform for me to realize the kind of career path I always wanted through contributing to medical education in research, academia and building global partnerships. My greatest glimmer is the hope GEMx has provided to medical and other health professional students across the globe to gain global exposure through building global partnerships but also at the same time enhancing visibility of the outstanding community projects with significant impact implemented by students across the world.

Introducing the GEMx Blog!

Filed under: From GEMx Staff

Hello, and welcome to the GEMx Blog!

This page will provide us with the ability to broadcast GEMx-related news, updates, and informational content, while also offering a platform to highlight YOUR experiences, feedback, and reflections related to GEMx and global exchanges!

Your contributed content may encourage more schools to consider joining the GEMx program which will provide their students with more opportunities to participate in an elective exchange!  In launching and growing our exchange network, we’ve been fortunate enough to get to know many faculty members and students at our partner institutions, and are happy to now be able to share the knowledge and expertise of these individuals publicly. The blog will include posts not only from faculty and students of GEMx partners, but will also feature posts authored by various leaders in medicine and health professions education that are relevant to educational exchanges.

We believe that sharing all of these perspectives on this page will add a deeper understanding of the benefits available to you through global exchanges and the GEMx program. We encourage you to add your thoughts, comments, suggestions, and questions in the comments section of our post!  When you leave comments, please remember that GEMx reserves the right to delete comments that are considered inappropriate.

We look forward to hearing your perspective! If you have any questions regarding the blog, or wish to submit content, please write to info@gemxelectives.org.

Thank you!

– The GEMx Team