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Medicine is a Lifestyle

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events, GEMx-SNO

Photo of Yassein Elhussein

Post by Yassein Elhussein, a medical student who shares his experience on the GEMx-SNO exchange program and completed an elective at the University Hospital Limerick, Ireland. 

I was lucky to have two weeks of clinical elective at University Hospital Limerick in Ireland as one of the 3 winners of the SNO-GEMx international exchange program 2018. This experience not only added to my clinical knowledge and skills, but it also changed the way of my thinking, my future plans, and career. It helped me to deal with different health systems, policies, and health issues.

It was the first time for me to travel alone abroad out of the African region. 4 weeks of being far away from my family and friends seemed to be difficult at first but as soon as I reached there all the fear and challenge changed to a sense of very exciting adventure. The journey started when I met my colleagues Prudence and Esther. Together we joined Mr. Gerard Byrnes’ surgical team at the hospital with Dr. Hellen, Dr. Awis and Dr. Shoib.

Yassein enjoying a nice meal with his colleagues.

During this period, I learned a lot from the team. I was impressed with the hospital departments, the new medicine, advanced tools and types of equipment as well as surgical techniques such as Robotic Surgery.  I got the chance to be an assistant in one of the laparoscopic surgical operations. ( lap. Cholecystectomy )

The hospital was amazing and the most thing I liked there, was the diversity of the working hospital staff and the team, which was a chance for multi-cultural exchange and building international bonds and connections across the globe. This experience helped me to see the beauty of Ireland and visit a lot of historical places and beautiful natural scenery in Dublin, Limerick, Tralee, and Killarney.

I also participated at the TUFH 2018 conference at Graduate Entry Medical School (presented 3 posters). It was my pleasure to meet GEMx Manager (Mr. Justin Seeling) at the conference and thank them for this great opportunity and support.

Yassein and GEMx Manager, Justin Seeling

Throughout most of my academic career, I have always sought out and taken positions in leadership roles in different students associations and communities. This stands true for my academic endeavor into medicine as well.  This experience motivated me to join the international SNO executive committee and serve as the Vice President with a very committed, motivated and amazing team.

Medicine has always been my childhood dream, a chance to satisfy knowledge curiosities, and, above all, an opportunity to make peoples’ lives better. It is unique, among all other professions, in that it deals with the most precious asset each person owns, his/her health, with all that this means in terms of delicacy, responsibility, and accountability. Thus, medicine offers an opportunity for personal and professional growth and a sense of accomplishment that no other profession offers.

I am looking forward to attaining more elective experiences. I would love to work at hospitals in the US, Australia, as well as in developing countries. That way I will be able to compare and contrast the differences in health care systems. Furthermore, I’m keen to meet health care professionals from all over the world to exchange ideas and experiences and to build long-lasting connections. I’m also ready and very eager to share details about my country and university with the rest of medical students out there.

Yassein working at the hospital

Last but not least, I want to thank SNO and GEMx for such great challenge and exciting opportunity and amazing experience.

This exchange program is one of my biggest achievements till now. Reached one of the target goals, hope to go far soon😊

Medicine is a lifestyle,🌸

Traveling is a lifestyle ❤

Join SNO, join GEMx, join the family ❤

 

Kind Regards,
Yassein Elhussein

My Elective Exchange at The University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Joy Kinya Kimathi

Post by Joy Kinya Kimathi, a 5th-year medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya who has completed an elective exchange at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences.

I was granted an opportunity to participate in an elective program in the University of Zimbabwe at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Zimbabwe, from the 20th of August to 30th September, 2018 by GEMx. I found this as a great opportunity to learn, a stupendous chance to mingle with new people, explore a new culture, food, and new places. It’s worth noting that Zimbabwe is a vibrant country whose occupants mainly speak Shona and Ndebele, and are amazingly hospitable.

 

Reception and Accommodation

On arrival at Zimbabwe, I was treated to a very warm reception by the University of Zimbabwe elective office. We were 2 students from Kenya at the time of my elective. Throughout my stay in Zimbabwe, I was accommodated at the Medical residence elective flat within Parirenyatwa hospital grounds. This was a very convenient spot to access the hospital, and I wish to pass my gratitude to the Accommodation office at the University of Zimbabwe for this consideration.

At the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MPCZ).

Academics

As a prerequisite to working in any clinical area within Zimbabwe, one needs to register with the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe (MPCZ). This was one of the first exercises that I embarked on just after settling down. The elective office was kind enough to offer transport to the Board’s premises to register with them.

Clinical Areas

Being a very adventurous person, I explored various departments within the hospital during my elective. These included: Medical Ward, Hematology Department, Urology Department, Oncology Department. I have to admit that I had an awesome learning experience within the institution. The consultants were very enthusiastic and more than ready to impart their knowledge and skills to me. Special thanks to Dr. Marejela (Consultant Physician), for his well-researched discussions crowned with a special sense of humor. Being in your ward round was something each of us looked forward to every single day.

Special thanks to Dr. Mberi (Hematologist Consultant) together with the whole Hematology team, for your dedication to teaching me. Lots of gratitude Dr. Chikore for teaching me how to administer Chemotherapy.

At the Hematology Laboratory

It was a great honor to work with Mr. Dube (Consultant Urologist). His austereness kept us on our toes bringing out the best in us. A shout out to the Oncology team for being one of the most amazing teams to ever work with. I was able to participate in cancer diagnosis, staging, planning of management, radiotherapy, brachytherapy and chemotherapy sessions. Above all the team got to include me in most of their social events making me feel at home.

The junior doctors (JrMOs) in all the departments I rotated in, occupy a special part in my heart. They were not only colleagues but also mentors and probably the greatest friends I’ll ever make within such a short period of time. They shared with me tips on how to navigate around Zimbabwe and were really great chaperones.

In a nutshell, the academic part of my elective was marked with new amazing and interesting exposures. Of special note is the fact that the whole experience sparked in me, a special interest in oncology, a field that I had never ever considered prior to my elective.

Interacting with local students ZiMSA dinner

Social

Over my stay in Zimbabwe, I got to visit many astounding places. It all began with a tour around the University of Zimbabwe main campus. The institution is located in a vast piece of land, in an exquisitely serene environment at Harare.

Some of my major highlights were: A visit to the agricultural showground, visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Grabbing lunch and dinner with the Zimbabwe Medical Students Associations (ZiMSA), and visiting the Bally Vaughn Animal Sanctuary

Challenges

Zimbabwe cash crises:

I found myself in the middle of a Zimbabwe Cash crisis right from the time I landed at the airport. The challenge was brought by the fact that I couldn’t withdraw any money from the banks due to acute cash shortage within the country. This was a very unique challenge that I had never anticipated at all. To add insult to injury, some of the swipe machines in the country were not compatible with my visa cards making it almost impossible to pay for accommodation as well as the Board fee. However, I would like to take this chance to thank the UZ elective office for being patient and resourceful in handling any new challenge that came up.

At this juncture, I would also like to pass my heartfelt gratitude to the Kenyan Embassy in Zimbabwe. They went out of their way to enable us to get Hard Cash when all our efforts had hit the wall. God bless you richly.

Photo at the Kenyan Embassy

Lesson Learnt

To any student planning to travel out of their country, make a habit of getting in touch with your embassy on the intended country of travel before leaving your country. Let your embassy advise you accordingly pertaining your travel expectations and expected challenges. This will help with your planning and cushion you from any unanticipated shock.

Conclusion

My trip was amazing. In the beginning, I faced a few strains, but I still got the best out of this elective both academically, socially, and culturally. I greatly appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by GEMx team. I wish to thank everyone who went out of their way to ensure that I had the time of my life. The GEMx initiative is a great one, and I take this opportunity to encourage more and more students to enroll and be part of it.

Orthopaedics and Traumatology at CES Universidad, Medellin, Colombia

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Jack Dunne,  Student Ambassador at National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway who has completed an elective exchange at Universidad CES Escuela de Medicina.

Jack Dunne

Why Medellin, Colombia?

I wanted to explore my interests in trauma medicine. Ireland lacks trauma as a specialty, so an elective abroad offered me the only opportunity to experience it. I looked for a location that offered this practical experience but also one that offered cultural and travel opportunities. I read positive reports on Colombian hospital electives. The reports detailed a practical and intensive environment, where the standout point for students was that it had been very rewarding.

I chose Medellin simply based on the many positive touristy accounts I heard of it.

 

The Application Procedure

I Google searched Universities in Medellin and found various websites and email addresses. I came across CES Universidad and the organizer there was very prompt and helpful in her replies. I then noticed it was a GEMx University, so I made my application through the GEMx portal, rather than through the CES portal, and this saved me the cost of fees. Winning straight off the bat! Overall, the application procedure was very straightforward, I just needed the usual documents (letter of recommendation, grade transcripts etc).

View of Colombia PC: @baermannfelix

CES Universidad

CES Universidad is a small private university in Medellin, based in the leafy ‘El Poblado’ suburb. On the CES University application page on the GEMx website, you have 2 hospital options for each specialty available, CES Clinica or a General Hospital. I chose CES Clinica, just on the flip of a coin, and can only comment on that.

Streets of Colombia

I was very happy with CES Universidad. The programme was run professionally; I had an orientation before beginning and was also brought on a guided graffiti tour with other exchange students. The hospital knew I was coming was used to taking foreign students and had preassigned me to a doctor.

I initially assumed I would be placed in Clinica CES, a hospital close to the city centre of Medellin, however there all multiple ‘Clinica’s’ for medical students across the city and I ended up in a hospital called Clinica Del Norte. The hospital was actually in Bello, a suburb of Medellin. It’s a private hospital and has various different specialties and 4 theatres. It’s close to a busy commercial centre and the public metro station, Niquia.

Accommodation

Airbnb

It’s hard to judge an area you’ve never been to, halfway across the world, so I decided to figure out accommodation once I arrived, had spoken to people, and could ‘feel out’ the place. Don’t stay in a hostel if you’re doing clinical rotations (as I considered), that’s the 1st piece of advice. Colombians I asked said accommodation is advertised either on Facebook or through the grapevine. Hence, there’s only Airbnb available if you’re looking for a short-term rental. There’s tons of availability though. No tourists stay in Bello so every Airbnb was available for however long I wanted to stay. My advice would be to find accommodation for the 1st few days and then revaluate. I actually got lucky in that I had an Airbnb for 3 days, then met someone with a room to rent out and got a great deal, close to the hospital.
In Bello, Airbnb might set you back €12 a night, while finding local rent generally goes for $400,000-$500,000pesos (€115-€140) a month. Closer to Medellin city centre, however, the rent can be much higher: $600,000-$800,000pesos.

 

airbnb

Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Traumatology, in this case, was essentially an orthopaedic doctor based in the Emergency Department. In Ireland, orthopaedic doctors would be on call and required to come down to the Emergency Department. But there are so many orthopaedic cases in some hospitals, it’s far more efficient just to station an orthopaedic doctor there.

Clinica Del Norte is a private hospital for patients with good insurance, and this really dictates the patient cases that walk through the hospital doors. The vast majority of patients I saw were involved in low speed, minor trauma, motorcycle accidents. Know your bone anatomy of the upper and lower limbs as they’ll be your bread and butter for the 4 weeks. Though there were some polytrauma/major trauma cases, such as pelvic fractures and cranial fractures which I got to view/assist in. As I was based in the Emergency Department, I got to view/assist in many other cases, for example, a resuscitation case and a patient with a ventricular tachycardia. If you want to see big trauma, with gunshots and stab wounds, all the Hollywood gore of very sick patients, going to a public hospital is what you need to sign up to, according to the staff in CDN.  There is something to be said though for the less hectic, private hospital clinical rotation, especially when you don’t speak fluent Spanish.

I got a lot of practical experience from my time in CDN:

  • Doing various types of casts, splints
  • Suturing for various cuts/wounds
  • Intramuscular Injections
  • Digit ring blocks
  • Venous catheters
  • Urinary catheters
  • Taking blood from veins
  • Resuscitation procedures
  • Pelvic fracture stabilization
  • Shoulder relocation

 

The big piece of advice I’d give is don’t come over without knowing how to put on sterile gloves, wash your hands, and scrub in (your sterile techniques, essentially). I was most taken aback by the attitudes of the doctors and nurses towards medical students getting involved. I was never turned away from doing a procedure and was actively encouraged to try my hand wherever an opportunity presented itself. The staff was happy to teach the procedure and to patiently guide me through it.

Typical Day

7 am: starts and finishing at 6 pm most days, Monday to Friday. Weekends off for Orthopaedic students, not for emergency medicine students.

7 am: Reviewing the cases with students and doctors. Received teaching throughout the cases.

9 am: Go see the patients and do any of the tasks e.g. casts.

10 am: Teaching on a specific topic.

11 am: Go see patients on the wards/do any practical tasks/write up patient notes.

Lunch for an hour.

1pm-6pm: Based in the Emergency Department and seeing patients that came in/writing up notes.

CES Universidad

Orthopaedic Surgery

I expressed my interest to see orthopaedic surgery, and one of the students mentioned it to the doctor who then happily brought me along to theatre with him, making me feel very welcome. I got to scrub in, assist and close on all the operations they performed. The consultant would then struggle with his English to teach me what was happening in the surgery, which I really appreciated.

I got to see rotator cuff repairs, internal fixation of the tibia and LCA repairs.

Other Students

The Colombian students on the placement were lovely and helped me a great deal both with my medical knowledge and with my struggling Spanish.
I was also lucky in having another native English-speaking student from New Zealand there.

Colorful houses in Colombia

Spanish Requirement

CES Universidad doesn’t require a Spanish competency certificate, however, this may change after my stint there.  I would advise practicing your Spanish as soon as you make the decision to go to Colombia. It would take a high B1/B2 level in order to work competently and at least somewhat independently in the hospital.

Orthopaedics, however, is an ideal rotation for those with less Spanish ability. You need far less medical Spanish, and the nuances of a medical history aren’t as relevant.
Still, you should make a decent attempt at learning all the relevant vocabulary in order to get the most out of the elective

Things For Eager Students
Learn lots of medical Spanish and improve your all-round conversing Spanish.
How to type up a history in Spanish.

Graffiti tour

Tourist Activities

I was fairly wrecked by the time the weekends rolled around, and I imagine you will be too. Probably best not to plan your weekends down to a T, to try and cram in as much culture as 48hours allows. I’d recommend allowing time to travel before or after for a couple of weeks. I arrived in Colombia early and did my traveling in the 4 weeks before I started in the hospital. There are tons to do, and it would be disappointing to leave without thinking you made a least a decent crack at ticking off the touristy stuff.
If somehow stuck with weekends, however, Medellin has lots to offer. The nightlife is great (I got to go out with the Colombian students which was a lot of fun).
The graffiti tour I’d recommend. Taking the cable cars around the city was cool. There’s a walking tour of the city which was OK (you might as well do it, but don’t rush to tick it off). Paragliding was by far the highlight of Medellin for me. Super cheap (130,000pesos) and you get to soar in the winds on Medellin, with a panoramic view of the city.

Safety of the city

I feel tourists love to downplay the safety of Medellin, based on their own well worn, insulated paths through the city. Medellin is still a city that can be dangerous in every zone, and there are places non-locals should never go. I’ve read often that if you ‘use common sense you’ll be fine.’ However, common sense in Medellin differs vastly from common sense in a European city. For example, you shouldn’t flaunt your wealth, or take out your phone in public, regardless of the time of day. No zones are safe to walk around in late at night, so take Uber where possible. Be very cautious of your drinks on nights out, and be very skeptical of anyone showing interest in you on a night out.
All in all, I never experienced any problems or frightening experiences, and I would have no hesitations about returning or encouraging my friends to visit.
It’s highly recommended though to read up on the do’s/don’ts, the common pitfalls, and dangers, and to have backup plans if an unfortunate situation arises.

Graffiti Tour

Costs

There were no hospital/university costs for the elective, and I got a free lunch every day, so technically I was making money!
My accommodation was €165 for a month.
Food per day was maybe €15, including breakfast, the free lunch at the hospital and a nice meal in a restaurant that night.
For food, transport, and accommodation, Colombia is cheap. However, any ‘western’ goods (electronics, clothes, food brands) will be far more expensive than in Europe.

Overall

I would highly recommend doing a traumatology rotation at CES Universidad. The practical experience amongst such warm and friendly people has been so memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed my time both at the hospital and around Medellin.

Jack Dunne standing in front of the street

Cardiology Electives in Uganda

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Lindokuhle DIamini

Post by Lindokuhle Dlamini MBChB 5 student UKZN Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, South Africa

Preparations and Travelling to Uganda

During the time I was preparing for my trip to Uganda for my Cardiology electives for three weeks. I was not sure whether it was going to be possible for me to go to Uganda or not due to the fact that this was my first time traveling to a place that is outside of my own country. Immediately after my online application through GEMx, everything was easy for me because I received the help I needed on time and hence it was easy to get Immunizations, Visa, and other useful information about the place I was traveling to on time. Many people intervened and assisted a lot, Prof. Mergan Naidoo who is the GEMx Manager at UKZN, Professor Ncoza Dlova the dean of clinical medicine at UKZN medical school, Faith Nawagi from GEMx and Sunga Chumia helped me a lot with the whole process.

During the day of my trip to Uganda, I missed my flight from South Africa to Entebbe in Uganda, and this was due to the fact that there was a very long immigration cue at the airport and very few consultants, this was the only challenge I faced, but I did rebook the flight and the following morning I then traveled to Uganda, it was a good experience indeed.

Arrival and General Impression about Uganda

I arrived at Entebbe, and I checked in in the country after that I went to the Mugalo Hospital guest house where I was staying for my electives, I met many people in Uganda, but the common thing I noticed about every individual I met is that they were so welcoming and respecting as well, even though sometime I would not feel well because I did not fully understand their culture during the few days of my arrival in Uganda, and my fear was that maybe I will do or say something that means something bad or rude according to their culture, but their respect always kept me feeling at home. Uganda is a very good country but very expensive. I went to Shoprite just to get a few items at Acacia Mall and while comparing prices with the South African Shoprite, it was a lot more expensive. Staying at Mulago Hospital guest house was very good I met few Medical students from other countries and it was very nice to meet them, listen, and observe them as well I learned a lot from them both academically and socially.

Lindokuhle posing for the camera

My first day of Cardiology at Uganda Heart Institute, as I was still battling with the one hour difference between South Africa and Uganda, one of the Medical Students from the College of Health Sciences was sent to come and give us a tour around the Mulago Hospital, it was so useful because from then I did not struggle with directions around the entire hospital. On my first day, I met Dr. Isaac Ssinabuyla who is the manager of the GEMx at Makerere University, who is also a Cardiologist at Uganda Heart Institute, I also met Phionah Kinwa who is the Associate Coordinator for International Programs at Makerere College of Health Sciences. Dr. Isaac Ssinabulya took us and we went to the Heart Institute, we arrived the ward round had already started and he introduced us to the team. The Cardiologist who was in charge was Dr. Lugero Charles.  I learned a lot, most of the patients we saw were mixed valvular disease patients. The team I was with at the Uganda Heart Institute were so keen to teach, I learned a lot from them, not only academics but even the conduct of a Medical Doctor, being part of the team equipped me, to such an extent that I now consider Cardiology my first choice specialty. On Tuesdays, I attended major ward rounds where I met Dr. Batambuze an old Cardiologist who received his training in the United States. He taught me Cardiology, most patients presented with the mixed Valvular disease, coronary artery disease, Aortic dissection mostly caused by hypertension, and congestive Cardiac failure.

Lindokuhle and his colleagues

I clerked and presented patients to the doctors during ward rounds, and the most important thing Dr. Batambuze use to emphasize was the issue of being able to pick up clinical signs and being able to interpret them, as well as the importance of demonstrating how you elicited the clinical signs you mention. My Cardiology clinical attachment helped me a lot; it taught me to work with other people. Dr. Batambuze organized tutorials, and he uses to give both us medical students and MMed students tutorials, it is quite good to be involved in a clinical setting with many medical doctors, because you get different views and approaches as well which broadens your horizons. After the ward round, I used to study a lot, to try and cover as much work as possible. It was much discouraging to learn that Doctors are underpaid after so much hard work of their training, and the type of care they give to patients. It was also sad to see some of the patients in beds because nothing can be done but only palliation and some of them cannot afford to pay for the surgery procedures more especially the Type A Aortic dissection patients, because of limited resources at Uganda Heart Institute, and patients have to be transported to Kenya for such procedures only to find out that patients cannot afford, but I was glad because even though most patients could not afford, Doctors use to continue with medical treatment learned that there is a lot of communication in medicine, and to be a good doctor does not only require excellent academic record but it requires a lot of passion, patience, and commitment. I also learned to approach patients as a whole, not only to treat the disease but also to focus on other aspects of life, because they might be the precipitants and the cause of the disease. And now that I am at home I will make sure that I help other fellow students, and furnish them with all the information I received at Uganda Heart Institute. I really appreciate the experience I had at the Uganda Heart Institution.

Lindokuhle in his medical cap and stethoscope

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank GEMx for offering this exchange program, which made everything easy on my side as far as applications and other important information is concerned, thanking SAMA Scholarship for offering me funding. Prof Mergan Naidoo who is the manager of GEMx at the University of KwaZulu Natal(UKZN), Prof Ncoza Dlova who is the dean and head of the school of clinical medicine at UKZN who encouraged me to apply and further assisted me with finances where they were loopholes, Miss Sunga Chumia who assisted me with logistics. I would also like to thank Dr. Isaac Ssinabuyla who is the manager of GEMx at Makerere University in Uganda for the help and for hosting us as well as Phionah Kinwa.

Introducing Colby Young, GEMx Co-Op

Filed under: From GEMx Staff

Colby Young

Hi everyone! My name is Colby and I am a Co-Op GEMx Research Assistant. I am currently a Sophomore Marketing and Business Analytics major at Drexel University. Before joining the GEMx team, I knew I wanted to mix being creative with using data to the promote growth of a program or service. So far, the opportunities that this position offers have been that and so much more like collaborating with small teams and building a better understanding of cultures other than my own.  

I grew up in Compton, California a mostly African American low-income community on the outside of Los Angeles. However, I went to a private school near the affluent community of Bel-Air. The culture of those two cities was radically different in terms of values, beliefs, and/or religions and I felt like an outsider at first. I have learned that to overcome differences in the culture there has to be mutual respect and a desire to educate yourself if not stereotypes will continue to negatively affect how people are viewed. I want to show underrepresented communities, like mine, that we can grow through adversity and succeed in life. This is what motivates me to be passionate about working with GEMx on helping people in the medical field improve health-education worldwide.

Colby Young

For fun, I like trying new activities and spending quality time with my friends and family. It doesn’t take much to please me. Whether we’re watching scary movies or taking photos or going out to eat or chilling at the beach, I am happy being with them. In high school, I played 4 years of lacrosse. After practice, my teammates and I used to pick up  Pad Thai and bubble tea at a Thai food restaurant then eat at the beach nearby. When I’m by myself, I like listening to new music. I love how songs can help me to get out of my head and relax.

 

Learning about the Healthcare System in Kenya

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Frank Mayindi, a GEMx Medical Student from Makerere University College of Health Sciences [MEPI] taking an elective program at Kenyatta University

Frank Mayindi is my name, from Uganda, a Muganda by tribe, 24-year-old male currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery at Makerere University Uganda-Kampala College of Health Sciences currently in my fourth year of study, with a very strong passion for surgery, aspiring to be a neurosurgeon in future.

FRANK MAYINDI(1) EBELE GIFT ISAAC(2) MRS DOROTHY .W(3) AND KIKOYO JOACHIM(4) from the left side at the safari park in Kenya.

I undertook an elective placement at Kenyatta University Nairobi, Kenya through the period of 2nd June to 1st July under the Global Education in Medicine Exchange (GEMx) and I take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone that made this possible. ( Makerere University international office, Kenyatta University, and the GEMx co-ordinators).

My stay in Kenya was full of many experiences. While at Kenyatta University I rotated in the Department Of Surgery at the Kiambu level 5 hospital.

For the time I was in the hospital, I participated in ward rounds (major and grand), clerkship, and examination of patients, follow up of care of patients and bedside teachings. These activities enhanced my clinical skills especially in surgery and also served as a stepping stone to pursue my career in surgery.

I also attended CME’S (Continuous Medical Education sessions) and Morbidity and Mortality reports in which I got updated about some of the current medical practices and different approaches to patient care. I also appreciated the key leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the hospital’s catchment area.

Photo with the rest of the GEMx members at the postmodern library in Kenyatta University

Through my interaction with fellow students, I learned a lot about the Kenyan culture in terms of language, culture, and entertainment. I cannot withstand the temptation to mention about the wedding I attended at one of my friend’s place and the fact that most of the weddings were held on Saturdays and all vehicles attending a burial had to bear a red cloth tied to side mirrors or any available place as a mark.

I managed to attend a community outreach held at Brydges Home Center in Kajiado County, it was a place away from Nairobi and I managed to have an experience of Kenya outside the main capital city. While at the outreach I stationed in the pharmacy department where I managed to dispense different medications to the different patients, it gave the opportunity to interact with the pharmacy students and also learn briefly about the common drugs used in Kenya.

Group Photo was taken at the community outreach

Through my stay in Kenya, I realized that it was a cold country compared to my home country, however, I managed to maneuver through the weather through the use of jumpers and very thick sweaters. However, there were no unexpected outcomes through my stay in Kenya.

I was warmly welcomed by the student community especially the students I was to rotate with, at a moment I didn’t feel I was in a different country, they played a major role in my stay in Kenya. They taught me a lot of Kiswahili and Kikuyu, allowed me to join them in their co-curricular activities like football matches plus tennis and also I participated in their discussions as early as the 4th day of my stay. Still, through the guidance of my fellow students I managed to visit the national hospital of Kenya-Kenyatta National Hospital-and this broadened my picture of the health care system in Kenya. All in all my interaction with the students was far-reaching and up to now I still maintain communication with them and there was no moment I felt unsafe and not welcomed by them. Through interaction with the lecturers, I managed to meet with surgeons practicing in Kenya and the chairman of the department of surgery at the hospital, these greatly natured me in the field and encouraged me to pursue my career further.

The picture was taken at one of the clinical teaching sessions in Kiambu

To any student out there planning to partake a GEMx elective in a country away from home, I strongly encourage you not to hesitate to pursue such an elective. Learn about the language of the host country especially the basic words for basic community survival and also while in the host country make as many contacts as possible to further grow your carriers and to enhance your international relations and let every day that you spend for your elective count.

 

GEMx-SNO Experience at the TUFH conference

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events, GEMx-SNO

Esther Hallal

Post by Esther Hallal, a 3rd-year Medical Student at the Carol Davila University of Bucharest Romania. 

This August I had the privilege to be one of the winners of the SNO- GEMx elective student exchange program, and honestly, this experience has propelled me both professionally and personally in various ways.

I had the opportunity to interact with a different medical system and while working within the surgical unit I was able to develop my surgical practical skills and further my theoretical knowledge through real-life problem-based learning. During the internship, I had the chance to communicate with patients and colleagues alike; strong bonds were forged, so much so, that I wish to visit the hospital once again in the future.

After the hospital internship experience, the bar was set quite high, which is why I underestimated the impact the TUFH conference would have on me. Nevertheless, the conference did not fall short from revolutionary because I was inspired by the student projects and the passion with which they presented. The overall atmosphere of the conference persuaded me to become part of the Student Network Organization movement; whose goal is to help students rise together. This is how I became the European Regional Representative of the Student Network Organization and now it is also my mission to empower students alike around the world.

 

Prudence Baliach, Yassein Kamaland, and Esther Hallal at the TUFH conference

Group Photo at the Conference

Esther Hallal and two colleagues in their scrubs!

 

Ntuthuko Mkhabela’s Cardiology Elective Exchange to Uganda

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Ntuthuko Mkhabela

Post by Ntuthuko Mkhabela, a 5th- year medical student at the University of KwaZulu- Natal in South Africa taking an elective program to Makerere University in Uganda. (Student on the left)

Introduction

My name is Ntuthuko Mkhabela, I am a 5th-year medical student at the University of KwaZulu- Natal in South Africa.

I was afforded the opportunity to do a Cardiology elective program in Makerere Univerity in Uganda at the Mulago Hospital Heart Institute from the 4th until the 23rd of June 2018 by the GEMx.

I found this to be a great learning opportunity and also a very prodigious chance to explore new places and meet new people. From when I got to Uganda I found that everyone was very friendly, though it was difficult at first to settle in and comprehend how somethings are done but within a few days, it really felt like home.

Academics

Group photo at the hospital

I had to admit that I had the best bedside teaching at the Heart Institute and they have the best grand round on Tuesdays with the best and most enthusiastic teachers I have ever had any chance to meet.

I was a great honor to get teaching from Dr. Batambuze “The Lord of the Heroes” as he refers to himself when entering the ward, he isn’t only a great consultant but also offers the best form of teaching in a very passionate and motivating way; and he also has a great sense of humor.

He was very patient with us and even though he had not come to teach undergraduate students. He made us feel welcome and were willing to assist us wherever we got lost. He would take us all the way from basic science and anatomy up to the clinical and bedside medicine and the one thing he really enforced was the importance of proper and evidence-based bedside clinical medicine and how it would assist in saving a patient’s life and for that I would like to forward my special thanks to him.

Ntuthuko Mkhabela and Lindokuhle Dlamini

We also had the best team in the ward led by Dr. Majwala who also held our hands throughout the period together with his MMed students: Dr. Ssibuliba, Dr. Were, and Dr. Herbert. They were willing to not only share their much valuable knowledge with us but also even shared some of their resources with us.

It was really a great motivation to me and if given the opportunity I would definitely love to work with them again because I think there is a lot that I could learn from them and it wouldn’t be just for me to not appreciate these great individuals. It also wouldn’t be just for me not to appreciate Dr. Lugero for his great teaching, he was the first to welcome us and he rightfully told us that he cannot welcome us with a party or whatever but he can only welcome us with academic questions and indeed his teaching remains highly appreciated. I would also like to appreciate all the other doctors I have not mentioned above who also were willingly and undoubtedly making efforts to ensure that we are trained to become great clinicians.

I also had an opportunity to spend some time in the Cath Lab to see how coronary stents are inserted and again we were welcomed with warm hands and without any objections taught us as much as they could within the little time we had in there and it was again a memorable experience.

Briefly, I would just say I the academic side of my visit had the best teaching I have ever been exposed to in my life and I remain grateful, and one would then safely say the purpose of the trip was fulfilled.

Social

Ntuthuko Mkhabela selfie

During my stay in Uganda, I had a chance to explore a number of places in the area, starting with the tour around Makerere University which we had with Clement who was a great host and was always there when we needed him. He became more than just ‘a student who was supposed to show us around’, he became a friend and a colleague who we shared a lot of great moments with and also shared knowledge.

He is a great leader and has been in the student leadership myself, we actually shared a lot in common hence we got along very easily and I sure do wish him well in the future and hope we do meet again at some point.

I also had an opportunity of watching the multicultural tribes of Uganda performing their traditional dance TWICE because for some reason I just couldn’t have enough of their dance,  jokes,  music and of course the food courtesy of Dr. Isaac.

Ntuthuko Mkhabela enjoying traditional activities

This was a great experience and it made me wish to get a chance to go live in their rural areas for at least a day so I could be part of the traditional activities and have the first-hand experience of how it actually feels to be one of them because I was already feeling like one of them even at that time. I couldn’t really tell whether this gentleman was too tall or it’s just that I am very short but I honestly had the most fun at this cultural dance event I also had an opportunity to go and watch a local rugby tournament and also meet up with other medical students from different other countries from all around the world. I made a lot of friends who I learned a lot from; we also watched a number of world cup games together and shared a lot of fun moments. With some, we even share the same accommodation which allowed us to get to know each other even more.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to the Safari and to Lake Victoria with them, which I really think it would have been really great adventure given the fact that it was in the home of the Nile Rivers its self.

Ntuthuko Mkhabela enjoying his stay in Uganda

Conclusion

Even though the trip started off on a very frustrating note from missing our flight and having to spend a night in Johannesburg to serious financial constraints but in the end, all the efforts were worth it and I definitely would relive every moment of it if given the chance again. I appreciate the opportunity that was afforded to me and would like to thank everyone who put their efforts into ensuring that this trip became a success.

Smiling with my new friends

I think this GEMx initiative is a great one and really I would like to see more people from our school taking part in it.

Thank You

 

 

 

 

Get to know Mercy Muhadia Okova

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Post by Mercy Muhadia Okova, a 5th-year medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. 

I spent most of my childhood days in the rural area, the western part of Kenya and my high school and college days in the capital city Nairobi. I have a taste of both rural and urban life which makes life easier for me because I know how to deal with people from both sides.

When I was young I would sing the common song of many children that when I grow up I would like to be a doctor. However, that dream made sense when my dad fell critically ill and I wanted to understand what was happening to him and help where I can. I was also motivated by a young lady: a medical doctor who was in her second year of residency in Neurosurgery. That made me believe young ladies can also excel in the field of medicine. I excelled in my final high school examination and got admitted to study medicine.

Unfortunately, my dad passed away while I was in my first year of study before I could barely understand what made him unwell. Later on, I understood and this fueled my passion to fight Non-communicable diseases(NCDs) by creating awareness on healthy lifestyle practices for prevention of Non-communicable diseases. I write articles concerning NCDs on my blog mercyokovaonncds.wordpress.com

I learned of the GEMx electives through my classmate and we met the coordinator in my school who guided me in applying for an elective at University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and got accepted to rotate in the Department of Family Medicine. I am glad to have met a very pleasant team lead by Professor Mergan Naidoo. The program is quite busy already learning a lot in the first week. I hope to share more experiences as the elective goes on.

Sharing Experiences That Changed My Life

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Fuensanta Guerrero del Cueto,  Student Ambassador at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) guest speaker at the Manipal Teaching Hospital in Pokhara,  Nepal.

I believe in the importance of understanding and embracing diversity as a fundamental part of the medical profession.

When I was elected to be a Student Ambassador at UNAM, my main aim was to share my love for medicine, education and cultural exchange with fellow students who would later become my colleagues. If we can see ourselves in our patients, their families, other students, and doctors, no matter how different they may seem at the beginning, empathy will drive us to provide the best care that we can. An international experience is a great element to encourage it, and this is what I tried to transmit at the Leadership in Medicine lecture on 17 November 2016 during CICOM.

I was invited as a guest speaker to share my GEMx exchange experience at Manipal Teaching Hospital in Pokhara, Nepal in 2015. I was very excited until I knew that it would take place at the main auditorium of my school, which has room for 965 people, in front of all the UNAM and visiting students that were present at the contest. This certainly posed a challenge, since as a teaching assistant I had only given lectures to 40 or 50 students maximum. I felt that this great audience deserved to hear not only my story, but those of all UNAM students who had gone to Nepal before me, so I decided to compile pictures and quotes to show them why this elective had changed all our lives.

Embracing traditions: the celebration of Teej women’s festival with nurses from the Hospital

I told them that I had chosen Nepal because there was no place further away from Mexico that I could have traveled to (it is almost our geographical antipode). However, this turned out to be even more challenging because I arrived right after the 2015 earthquake and during a fuel crisis period. What shocked me at first was the difficulty to communicate with patients whose language I did not speak or understand. However, language barriers encouraged my reflection, since they are always present, not only with Nepali but even with Mexican indigenous languages or when caring for people without formal education.

Additionally, the importance of traditions and family structure is shared between my country and Nepal, and this is something that must not be overlooked by the medical professionals. Lastly, the strength of our people to “do more with less,” overcoming hardships and getting the best out of what they have is one of the most admirable qualities that we share with Nepal.

An elderly woman carrying wood during the fuel crisis. In the background, you can see Manipal Teaching Hospital and the Himalayan range

Community Medicine elective allowed me to approach marginalized populations in Tibetan refugee camps or in the mountains, where medical attention is difficult to access. The similarities between this country and my own were very meaningful for me. I became more aware of social and environmental determinants of health, and how patient education and empowerment are fundamental in these settings. This supported my decision to choose Global health and One health pathways for my medical career.

The opportunity to tell my story and try to inspire others was one of the best experiences as a member of the Student Ambassador Network, which I tried to continue during my outreach activities. I believe that medical students who dare to go out of their comfort zone will discover that “the others” are very similar to themselves. We need to become less isolated from one another in an increasingly globalized world where developmental and health challenges transcend national boundaries.

Team for outreach clinic with British nurses and Nepali doctor

 

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