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A GEMx Exchange in Brooklyn, New York: A Story About Why All Medical Students Should Study Abroad

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

smiling student

Post by Carolina Severiche, GEMx global exchange student from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Colombia) who completed her GEMx Exchange through the American University of Antigua to Interfaith Medical Center in NYC

view from plane during flight to the US

En route to the United States!

Studying overseas can be one of the most amazing and unique experiences in a student’s life because they are thrust out of their comfort zone and get to challenge themselves with new adventures and learning opportunities. In my personal experience, doing a clerkship in the United States was no different. It was truly the most challenging and enriching opportunity for my medical training and life.

group of five women in hospital scrubs

With the surgery team made up of fellow exchange and medical students

My name is Carolina Severiche, and I’m and a 5th-year medical student from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, Colombia. I’m a Spanish native speaker, Afro-Native American woman, and a lover of internal medicine and classic literature. I did a clerkship in internal medicine at Interfaith Medical Center in New York City during August and September of 2017. Interfaith is a full-service non-profit community hospital that has 287 beds and serves more than 11,000 inpatients each year. It is also a teaching hospital, with four graduate medical education residency programs and fellowship programs.

During my clerkship, I had the opportunity to grow and develop essential medical skills such as clinical reasoning, patient communication, physical examination, evaluation of evidence in patient management, and safe discharge planning skills. I did this while being part of an incredible internal medicine team which supported me in carrying out the daily rounds and the presentation of patient histories.

two smiling medical students

Another of my classmates and myself on the medical floor at the hospital

My experience in New York also went beyond my medical and academic interests and allowed me to grow in other significant and meaningful ways. The opportunity to work and live while speaking English as a second language was priceless to practice the language and gain new perspectives. Furthermore, experiences such visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), listening to jazz in Harlem, exercising in Central Park, or learning about the many gastronomic pleasures of the world’s most multicultural city; all helped me to gain a greater sense of awareness for the world’s cultures and people.

Together, these experiences helped me to realize the culturally relative reasons why others have different beliefs and behaviors, and as a result, I learned about empathy, compassion, and personal flexibility. I now feel closer to them as other humans, and can better appreciate their values and priorities. A lesson that is not only useful to me as a human and doctor but also as a practitioner who can now understand medical issues from a public health perspective.

By interacting and learning in this way, I have now developed a deep appreciation for public health and the social determinants of health. I saw first hand how culture alters health behaviors and beliefs, and better understand how social inequality between countries and inside a country determines patients health outcomes.

Two girls in white coats smiling

Myself and one of my classmates on the medical floor at the hospital

Given this, I now realize how important it is that organizations like the Global Education in Medicine Exchange (GEMx) exist. Programs like this support and facilitate students exchange in an affordable and accessible way that helps to build the kind of global understanding we need to improve health outcomes globally.

After this experience, I strongly feel that foreign exchange should be an essential part of medical training because students will develop culturally sensitive medical skills and learn about the importance of the social determinants of health in both a medical and public health context.

I am grateful for the opportunity GEMx afforded me, and know that it has made me a better human and doctor, and hope it can do the same for many more students to come.

 

GEMx Student Ambassador Network (SAN) Video Competition: Round 2

Filed under: From GEMx Staff, GEMx Student Ambassador Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Justin Seeling, GEMx Program Manager

Inspired by the success of the first round of video competition earlier this year, GEMx’s Student Ambassador Network (SAN) recently held another round of competition to allow students from our Partner Schools to record  and submit short videos showcasing their institutions and/or local culture.

We are excited to share the winning submissions with you!

GEMx’s Student Ambassador Network (SAN) recently held a “sequel” to our previous video competition, asking students from our Partner Schools to record short videos showcasing their institutions and/or local culture.

The video that we received from Josefa Santa María and Maria Jose Ayala Rivero, students at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Escuela de Medicina, is a great example of how GEMx Student Ambassadors are reaching students at their school and providing information about the any opportunities allotted with being part of the GEMx network! The video was awarded recognition from GEMx staff for being the “Most Informative” among all entries.

The video that we received from from Yu Aun (Jason) Chin, a student at SEGi University & Colleges (Malaysia) provides a great overview of student life at this GEMx partner institution! The video was awarded recognition from GEMx staff for being having the “Best Video Production” among all entries.

The video that we received from Bruno Marcarini and Clara Schneider, students at Escola Superior de Ciências da Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Vitória Faculdade de Medicina (EMESCAM) (Brazil), is an example of how student representatives are providing information to their classmates about the elective opportunities offered through GEMx! The video was awarded recognition from GEMx staff for being the “Most Creative” among all entries.

Thanks to all of our students who contributed videos!  If you are a student who is a member of a GEMx partner and would like to submit a video of student life at your school or your experiences on a GEMx Exchange, please write to info@gemxelectives.org.

COMPETITION NOW OPEN: Student Projects for Health 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized

Photo of the blog author, Dr. Myron Godinho

Dr. Myron Godinho

Post by Dr. Myron A. Godinho

Research Associate,
Public Health Evidence South Asia (PHESA),
(South Asian satellite of the Cochrane Public Health Group)
Manipal University,
India.

myrongodinho@gmail.com

As a 2017 Winner of the Student Projects for Health (SPFH) competition, I can attest to the fantastic opportunity that this program offers. You will be able to showcase your student project while building networks with like-minded people. It is the perfect stepping stone for a student or early-career professional looking to explore the world of community participation projects, and learn from the best, first-hand.

Myron presenting at TUFH

Maybe you feel that your project isn’t good enough. That was how I felt when I first sent in my submission last year. Just remember that this is a student competition, and we are all learning! No project is perfect, and acknowledging limitations is the first step towards improving your next project. Moreover, while project quality is important, entries are also judged on their innovation, their impact, as well as  your commitment and participation. So don’t miss this opportunity.

Go ahead and submit your entry for the SPFH 2018 competition before February 11, 2018.   I wish you all the best!

What an inspiring endorsement by Myron! Now, here are the submission details…

The Student Projects for Health competition is supported by GEMx —a global partnership for educational exchange in medicine and the health professions—and FAIMER, and will be a feature of The Network: Towards Unity for Health (TUFH) conference. The 2018 conference will be held August 16-20 in Limerick, Ireland. The theme of the conference is Community Empowerment for Health: A Multi-Sector Approach.

The Student Projects for Health competition recognizes students who have made outstanding contributions to projects that successfully promote community health and well-being. It is open to all undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in any course of study who have been participating in leadership roles in such projects. Approximately 15 winners will be selected. Each application will require an endorsement by a faculty member closely associated with the project.

Applications will be considered by a distinguished group of international reviewers with a wide variety of expertise in health professions education. They will base their ratings on:

1. Quality of the project
2. Degree and nature of applicant’s participation
3. Applicant’s contribution to project innovation
4. Impact of project and evidence
5. Diffusion and integration of project
6. Overall impressions

Winners will be invited to attend the conference and present their projects with posters. The award includes travel, accommodation and registration fees. Please note that if you were a winner last year, you will not be eligible to apply this year.

The deadline for application is February 11, 2018.

Applications may be submitted here:  https://faimer.fluidreview.com/res/p/student-projects-for-heal/

For more information on the conference, visit http://thenetworktufh.org/tufh2018/.

GEMx Student Ambassador Network (SAN) Video Competition: Round 1

Filed under: From GEMx Staff, GEMx Student Ambassador Network

Post by Justin Seeling, GEMx Program Manager

Earlier this year, GEMx’s Student Ambassador Network (SAN) held a video competition that asked students from our Partner Schools to record short videos showcasing their institutions and/or local culture.

We are excited to share the winning submissions with you!

The video that we received from Ahmed Saleh and Rana Abualsaud, students at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, does a great job showing off the school’s campus in Doha and introducing viewers to members of the faculty! The video was awarded recognition from GEMx staff for being the “Most Creative” and demonstrating the “Best Video Production” among all entries.

The video that we received from Navilah Hidayati, a student at the Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia, does a wonderful job detailing “5 Things That You Will Love About UGM”! The video was awarded recognition from GEMx staff for being the “Most Informative” among all entries.

The success of this first round of videos inspired the GEMx Student Ambassador Network to extend another opportunity for students to submit their videos.  In an ensuing post, we’ll be sharing the winning submissions from participants of the second round of the video competition.

Thanks to all of our students who contributed videos!  If you are a student who is a member of a GEMx partner and would like to submit a video of student life at your school or your experiences on a GEMx Exchange, please write to info@gemxelectives.org.

A Firsthand Account of the Devastating Earthquake That Hit Central Mexico on September 19, 2017

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

We here at GEMx have valued the development of reciprocal, supportive and enduring relationships with the students we serve well after their exchanges are behind them. We also understand that expanded perspectives and growth opportunities occur in individual daily lives as much as through international travel and exchanges, which is why we are especially honored to share an introspective account by one such student. – Carol Noel Russo, GEMx Senior Coordinator

Photo of post author, Mercedes

Mercedes Aguilar Soto

Post by Mercedes Aguilar Soto, Medical Student at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Facultad de Medicina (Mexico) who recently completed a GEMx Elective at PAGNY (New York)

The Earthquake

I have lived my whole life in Mexico City, I was born here, I studied here and I will probably continue living here. I always tell people I have a love-hate relationship with this city because it has a lot of problems but at the same time it has a lot to offer to its citizens and visitors.

As I said before I studied here and I have done my medical training in hospitals in this city. Right now I am doing my intern year in a very big hospital that was founded around the 1900’s and has been working since. I am currently finishing my rotation in Emergency Medicine, which is one of the busiest areas of the hospital and I stay there for 24-hour shifts every three days.

This last September, Mexico City and other cities in Mexico experienced two devastating earthquakes, and I was in the hospital on call during both of them. The first one, on September 7th happened around midnight. Since Mexico is considered a seismic zone, alarms have been installed around the city and they are supposed to get activated as soon as there is an earthquake detected in the coast of Mexico, which gives us around 30-60 seconds to evacuate buildings.

This first earthquake was scary, but we all had enough time to leave the building and to make sure everything and everyone was OK. I called my family immediately since we live in one of the high-risk zones and was happy to hear that everybody was doing all right. Other zones of Mexico, especially Oaxaca were really affected, but Mexico City seemed to be doing fine.

I must say that earthquakes in my hospital are scary, not only for its location in a high risk zone, but because in 1985, on September 19th a huge earthquake hit Mexico City and damaged a lot of buildings including several towers in this hospital including the OB/Gyn tower, the residency and several others. I still have professors who remember friends who died during that horrible earthquake, which is why we always get an uneasy feeling whenever there is an earthquake.

The next morning, on September 8th, engineers and safety staff checked the whole hospital and told us it was suitable for working, so everything went on like nothing had happened. When I came home my mother hugged me really hard and I realized she had been very worried since she remembered the hardships the hospital went through in 1985. But luckily we were all fine. However, we did not expect another earthquake to happen so soon.

Every year on September 19th, as a way to remember the 1985 earthquake and to remind us all of the protocol to follow in case of this kind of disaster, in all schools, hospitals and offices; an evacuation drill is performed so that we are all informed on what we are supposed to do in case there is a real earthquake.

This last September around eleven in the morning, we were all requested to evacuate the building and count the number of people to see if we were all complete. After the drill everybody went back to work like nothing had happened. As usual, the ER was full of people and we were all doing our jobs as we normally do. Later on, I was running some tests on a patient when one of my colleagues told me that an earthquake was beginning. I turned around to ask her about it because I didn’t hear the alarm and I didn’t feel anything, but as soon as I turned my head I felt the floor pulling me to one side and realized it was a strong earthquake, but luckily I was close to the door so I was out of the building in ten seconds. Later on we discovered the alarm wasn’t activated before the earthquake because the epicenter was not in the coast but close to land so the usual alarms were not able to detect it.

While we waited for the earthquake to stop I saw nurses praying and a friend of mine crying because she was really scared. I grabbed her hand and told her everything would be OK, only to find myself wanting to cry too and with my hands sweating. The earthquake probably lasted a minute or so, but it felt like forever. When it was finally over, the chief of service and the safety staff started counting everybody and told us to walk calmly to another safety zone.

While all this was happening I was receiving texts from my family who were all in different places around the city. My father was walking back home from his office, when he realized there was an earthquake happening and he started running towards my house. On his way he found one of the many buildings that fell down and with his hands still shaking he took a picture of it. He continued running to my house, to find that luckily it was still in place.  After telling us he was doing fine and that our house was OK he sent us the picture of the building, and then news started running in the hospital: there were a lot of buildings that had fallen down and rescuers were on their way.  My boyfriend called me, almost crying, and told me that buildings had been falling down around the city. I realized that this had been a terrible earthquake.

A photo of some of the devastation caused by the Mexico City earthquake

For several minutes we didn’t know what to do, we were waiting for instructions from the engineers when we started smelling gas, which is one of the many dangers of an earthquake: the leakage of gas from cylinders and tanks that get broken during the movement. Since the source of the leakage was unknown we received orders to evacuate the building until further notice, but we needed to take the patients out. I was worried that there could be an explosion any minute, especially since all hospitals have oxygen pipes than run under the hospital, but I stayed and tried to help getting out the patients.

After an hour or so we were told that the leakage was outside the hospital and that it had been taken care of, so we were safe to go back to the building. The rest of the hospital tried to discharge all of their patients, since we didn’t know how many injured people we would get. The attending in charge came to all of the interns and told us that those of us who wanted could leave if we needed to, and if we had a night shift that day only half of us were expected to stay. I talked to my friends and we all decided to stay, even a friend whose father was in the ICU in another hospital that was rumored to be damaged and another friend who hadn’t heard from her family.

Since the number of injured people was unknown we received orders to discharge all patients that could be discharged so there could be enough space available for rescued people that might come from all over the city. However, the hospital in which I work is not specialized in trauma so all the patients were first sent to trauma hospitals.

(more…)

GEMx Student Ambassadors Share Quotes That Inspire Them

Filed under: From GEMx Staff, GEMx Student Ambassador Network

Post by Justin Seeling, GEMx Program Manager

GEMx is happy to share this video of some of our student ambassadors speaking about their favorite motivational quotes.  At our June 2017 GEMx Student Ambassador Network (SAN) webinar, each ambassador was asked to share a quote that spoke to his or her interest in medicine and international exchange of knowledge.  Thanks to our inspirational student ambassadors for their participation in this exciting exercise!

 

A Regional Exchange at the University of Malawi College of Medicine

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

a smiling student

Post by John Baptist Ssenyondwa
GEMx exchange student from Makerere University School of Medicine 

John standing outside of the Queen Elizabeth Hostipal

My first day at Queen Elizabeth
Hospital

Medical school without a clinical rotation outside the teaching hospital environment of one’s training is not comprehensive enough. Through elective rotations, medics are exposed to the different experiences that come with working in a different setting from one’s training facility. I was one of the students that got the opportunity to take part in the GEMx Electives program this year. It was last semester for me and not only was I looking forward to completing medical school but also engaging in a clinical rotation for the weary holiday prior to internship. I had tried to apply for several programs that I could enroll in before I started internship but in all in vain.

As I walked through the busy schedules of school, the call for applications by GEMx Electives came to my notice and so came the interest to apply to take part. I had always wanted to travel as a student to a different medical school for an exchange program that would contribute to building my future career as a doctor. I immediately logged into my new GEMx account to find out the available universities for elective applications. I also found out that I was under the GEMx- South to South program which included University of Witwatersrand in South Africa;  College Medicine in Malawi, Makerere University and University of Rwanda. The days passed by and three weeks later on, I received the good news that my application had been accepted for the elective rotation at Malawi University College of Medicine. Filled with joy, I shared my good news with friends who were happy for me.

Malawi is divided into the central, northern and southern regions with 28 districts. The college of medicine is located in Blantyre, which is found in the southern region of Malawi. Having been established in 1992, it is the only medical school in the country with four undergraduate courses offered which include the five-year-long Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), and the four-year-long programs of Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Sciences (BMLS), Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hon) and Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hon). For a greater portion most of my rotation, the College was on holiday and therefore I had appropriate contact time with the senior lecturers however limited interaction with the other students.

surgery being performed

Assisting surgical theater at Mercy James Centre for Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care

The first official day of my elective found me at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in the Surgical Annex for the handover meeting held daily. Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital is the largest government tertiary unit and main teaching hospital for the College of Medicine. The hospital handles the referrals from the districts surrounding Blantyre. I was oriented through the facility ends and corners so that I could get my bearings well thereafter. I was introduced to the head of department, Surgery and each individual on the team I was joining in paediatric surgery. I rotated through paediatric surgery for first three weeks and one week at Beit Cure International Hospital.

Cure Malawi is a 58 bed teaching specialized in treating orthopedic needs of children and adults opened in 2002. The hospital also has special expertise in total hip and knee replacement surgery, making it one of the few places where this surgery is available in Sub-Saharan Africa. The hospital treats a wide range of orthopedic conditions including clubfoot, burn contractures, osteomyelitis, and other acquired or congenital conditions. In addition, CURE Malawi also provides physiotherapy and chiropractic services.

Table of Metrics

Table I. The cases observed and assisted in Paediatric Surgery rotation at the MJC theatre

 

Table of Metrics

Table II. The different surgeries participated in at Beit Cure International Hospital

While at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, I attended the handover meeting first before heading out for the day’s work each day. At these sessions, a 24 hour recap of the cases handled by the department was held and these cases discussed by the resident doctors together with the respective surgical teams of General Surgery, paediatric and orthopedic surgery.

Ward rounds were conducted daily by a senior consultant and residents on the different wards. The wards included: Paediatric Surgical Ward at the Mercy James Center; Chatinkha Neonatal Unit; Paediatric Nursery Ward; Paediatric Oncology Ward.  At the ward rounds, I was able to see several of the common conditions in paediatric surgery most of which I hadn’t seen during my school rotation. Additionally, we were able to discuss the conditions with the consultants and learn the approach to managing the ailments.

While in paediatric surgery, I was able to attend 3 ward rounds in a week. At the ward rounds, I was able to see several of the common conditions in paediatric surgery most of which I hadn’t seen during my school rotation. Additionally, we were able to discuss the conditions with the consultants and learn the approach to managing the ailments.

The OPD [Out Patient Department] ran every Monday afternoon after the rounds. While at the clinic I participated in eliciting history from the patients, examining and discussing with the consultants the different cases. This was a special learning experience as we saw several patients with a variety of conditions and therefore I always had various conditions to study. I had assignments to do every clinic and this facilitated my learning throughout the rotation. It was exciting to be in theatre and take part in the management of patients. I worked in theatre on Tuesday till Thursday for about seven hours each day.

surgery being performed

Assisting through the operations at Beit Cure Hospital

The rotation at Cure hospital was one week during which I rotated through the OPD clinic, theater and the wards. The OPD clinic also ran on Monday the entire day. I attended one clinic day of which we saw 30 patients with various orthopedic conditions. I was well facilitated by Dr. Lubega Nicholas, an orthopedic surgeon at cure who always discussed and ensured I followed through the activities at the facility.

I also attended teaching seminars at Cure hospital with the resident orthopedic students. Much as the cases discussed at these seminars were beyond my scope, I was able to learn the basic concepts on how to diagnose and know who to refer to. I learned the basic surgical skills employed generally in the field of surgery. I also took part in the general surgical management of the patients admitted at Cure, assisting in the various operations at the facility.

natural waterfall and pools

At Dziwe Lankhalamba Waterfall

While in Blantyre, I toured several beautiful places around the town during the weekends which also rejuvenated me throughout the rotation. I hiked Mulanje Mountain the highest peak in Malawi and visited several other sites like Mandala historical site among others. I met so many people and made quite a number of friends both within the medical field and other fields.

During my stay in Blantyre, I was able to work in a different environment with warm people eager and committed to improving the health of their patients. Despite the fact that the setting was much similar to my training hospital, I was able to achieve the objectives of my rotation.

I was able to develop and build my confidence in proper approach to pediatric surgical cases. My diagnostic acumen depending on history taking from the patients without need to depend on newer imaging diagnostic modalities was greatly improved. I was trained by highly qualified surgeons in the basic surgical skills and technique employed in the operation theatre which is a lifelong skill obtained.

group of young people

With new friends

The rotation greatly supplemented my prior curricular clinical rotation in which some concepts and topics had been unsatisfactorily taught. I was able to deeply appreciate and understand some of the topics clearly through the ward round discussions with my supervisors and mentors. Throughout the rotation, I had ample time to read up the cases I saw on the ward and in theater. I was also able to identify the deficiencies associated with our African health systems and how these impact on the health of our patients. I met different individuals practicing in the medical field and made friends throughout my rotation and stay in Blantyre. It was great interacting and socializing with people from all over the world but with similar goals and interests. I was able to share several ideas and experiences with my new friends and establish career building relationships.

 

A Journey from Medicine to Health

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events, GEMx Student Reflections

Photo of the blog author, Dr. Myron Godinho

Dr. Myron Godinho

Post by Dr. Myron A. Godinho

myrongodinho@gmail.com

Research Associate,
Public Health Evidence South Asia (PHESA),
(South Asian satellite of the Cochrane Public Health Group)
Manipal University,
India

Public policy has always been an issue of great interest to me. The task of decision- making for societal development and progress is exciting and terrifying, when one considers the immense responsibility that such a role carries. Such decisions ought to be transparent, and should be justifiable to all the stakeholders involved, especially taxpayers and end-users. This conviction led to my involvement in Model United Nations (MUN) conferences in high school, where I participated as a delegate in various councils, and chaired the General Assembly at the national Bahrain MUN. At medical school, it baffled me that the most phenomenal discoveries in health science were unable to produce the paradigm shifts in human progress that their pioneers had initially envisioned. If health was such an egalitarian topic, why do some societies experience exponentially better health than others? As I engaged with patients throughout my clinical postings, the social determinants of health pointed towards converging disease pathways: it became apparent that the foundational systems of modern societies were not designed with health in mind.

Myron with Justin and Dr. Ciraj

Justin, Dr. Ciraj and I

With this understanding and my high school background in policy, I collaborated with college faculty and the student council at Melaka Manipal Medical College (MMMC), in Malaysia, to offer students a platform to foster debate and discussion on pertinent global health issues. Having harnessed their support, I conceptualized/developed MedMUN (Medical Model United Nations) by contextualizing the Model United Nations policy debate platform for deployment among health professions students of various disciplines. With the help of the student body, we recruited a mixed group of medical, dental and pre-medical (foundation year) students to participate in the initiative. After participating in four, weekly training sessions (involving presentations, groups sessions and peer learning), the students then participated in the 1st MedMUN debate where they discussed international maternal surrogacy legislation.

After I completed my MBBS studies, I was keenly looking for opportunities to deploy MedMUN in larger, more diverse settings, with an interprofessional focus. It was during this networking, that my teacher at MMMC in Manipal campus strongly encouraged me to submit my research entry for the Student Projects for Health competition by GEMx for the World Summit for Social Accountability 2017.  It was a proud moment to know that my project was selected and funded to be presented at this esteemed Summit at Tunisia. It was extremely special and exciting as this was my first international conference experience (please modify this statement). Through the Facebook group and mails from the other winners during our pre-conference preparation, I began to see the strong links that previous student winners had developed with each other, facilitated by the hard work of the GEMx and FAIMER teams. I was also fortunate enough to meet Justin Seeling during his trip to Manipal for the IQMU, and see the face behind the patient and helpful e-mails that would regularly keep me posted on developments in the run-up to the conference. A few months later, armed with my poster and travel bag, I boarded the plane to Tunisia with Dr. Ciraj and much excitement.

Disembarking at the airport, I met with a number of people, who, like me, were protectively clutching large cardboard tubes. Introducing myself, I found myself surrounded by other medical students, each with their own stories and experiences. Together, in a place we’d never before been to, we finally found our way to the waiting buses and were off to Hammamet. The bus ride took us out of the city and into the lush Mediterranean countryside. Acres of olive gardens and farms flanked the winding highway that carried us, set to the backdrop of a mountain range in a national park. The warm sun and the rhythmic sway of the bus lulled me to sleep, and I woke just as we arrived at the conference venue. It looked more like a little walled village than it did a hotel; and I learned that that was exactly what a medina was. After hovering in the lobby to finalise registration formalities, we were off, led by a sprightly young concierge to our respective rooms to freshen up. Once I was done, I headed out to explore the medina. The ‘souk’ was lined with shops, replete with salesmen peddling their wares: food, clothes, souvenirs, incense, olive wood carvings. A metalworker tapped away with his hammer, engraving a metal plate as I watched intently. Sitting at an outdoor restaurant, I learnt about harissa chilli and ‘brik’, a traditional Tunisian pastry. Soon after, a snake charmer sent a live snake down my shirt while three cobras swayed lazily on a stage. I decided that that was quite enough excitement for one evening and instead went in search of the nearby Mediterranean shoreline and a quiet dinner of mixed mezzeh and a delicious steak.

Myron presenting at TUFH

Presenting during the conference

The next morning I met most of the other SPFH winners; each of us sharing our travel experiences and our mutual excitement at having made it to the conference successfully despite various obstacles. The conference began in full swing, and we were introduced to the Student Network Organisation (SNO) – an excited bunch of well- intentioned, enthusiastic medical students from all corners of the globe who networked and collaborated with other organisations (e.g. IFMSA) to promote a proactive approach to medical education. We all introduced ourselves and were immediately involved in a group activity that highlighted the main conference themes. There were large cohorts of students from some countries in particular, but language and culture was no barrier whatsoever. A powerful sense of community and inclusion prevailed, and it wasn’t long before we, the new additions, were making impromptu presentations and securing new friends through it all. We were encouraged to maintain our involvement and affiliation with the organisation by assuming positions of responsibility in the secretariat, as regional representatives, or in the many other professional bodies affiliated with the THE Network:TUFH.  I myself signed up to be a journalist for the quarterly newsletter and recently published in the June 2017 issue.

A blue door in Tunisia
Over the next two days we were given the opportunity to present our posters, receive feedback and questions, and learn from the experiences of our peers. It opened my eyes to the different ways design and implementation challenges could be overcome to achieve better community health outcomes. I was particularly enamoured by other projects which, like mine, had focused on capacity building in health policy and systems to foster systemic change in the way that health systems ensured the basic health status of their populace. This conference offered me the opportunity to network with people working towards similar goals as myself, and learn from their experiences while sharing mine too. It truly was a mutually beneficial experience for us all. Through further seminars organised by the SNO, we discussed with, and received valuable advice from, potential mentors; drafted a policy statement representing the views of the international medical student community; and thought deeply about our roles and responsibilities in society at large. It was a wakeup call, and a most welcome one too.

The summit was not without ample opportunities to socialise and mingle with our peers in a ‘less structured’ setting. Each evening provided another exciting opportunity to meet up with our newfound friends and discuss work, play, and everything in between. We were also able to take a tour of the historic city of Carthage, and visit Sidi Bou Said to capture some iconic photos of the region and make some great memories. Overall, the amalgamation of intellectually stimulating conversations, silly shenanigans, and barefoot midnight strolls through the freezing surf of the Mediterranean made for a heady, addictive concoction of experiences.

Tunisian metal engraving

Metal engraving

Because of the opportunity offered to me through the generosity of GEMx and FAIMER, I am encouraged to continue pursuing a career in public health, with a focus on evidence to inform health policy; and have a renewed passion to continue building capacity to improve health policy and system restructuring in India. My immediate aims are to publish my work in a peer-reviewed journal, and I look forward to collaborating with my new network of colleagues on future projects. Encouraged by the success of the project I presented, I’ve submitted more of my work for conference presentation opportunities, and will be presenting another recent project at the International Congress on Peer Review and Scientific Publication in Chicago, September 2017. This experience has undoubtedly helped to shape my career; I will soon be pursuing postgraduate studies in health technology assessment (HTA), to use medical research together with health economics to inform resource-allocation decision in public healthcare systems for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). While much work remains to be done, the knowledge that I am just one of many who share this vision is a great source of encouragement and motivation for me.

I might be tempted to say that the World Summit for Social Accountability 2017 was a truly ‘once in a lifetime experience’, but that would be to understate my desire to participate in such a conference again. No, it was a truly momentous experience; one that I hope to, once again, be a part of in the near future.

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-Malwadde and Faith Nawagi

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

Faith Nawagi, GEMx Africa Regional Representative, recently spent time with Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde to discuss her work as a physician, faculty member, and medical educator, as well her work with the 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/.

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