Skip to Content
GEMx

GEMx Blog

Faith Nawagi – GEMx Global Partnership Development Representative, Africa – wins Nursing Now Scholarship, May 2019

Filed under: From GEMx Staff, GEMx News


We are pleased to inform you that Faith Nawagi was 1 of 30 nurses who received a scholarship award from Nursing Now; out of 800 applications. Faith attended the WHO 2019 World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, and received training in global health policymaking and advocacy.  This award was in recognition of the work Faith performs for GEMx; developing inter-continental, institutional partnerships to facilitate student exchanges across Africa.

Faith met with leadership of Nursing Now, Sigma Nursing, and the International Council of Nurses.  Leaders of these organizations expressed a strong interest to form a global nursing exchange network using the GEMx web-based platform.  GEMx plans to meet with leadership in November of 2019.

Faith also met with Dr. Jim Campbell, Executive Director of Global Health Workforce Alliance and Director of the Health Workforce Department at the WHO.  Dr. Campbell acknowledged the good work of ECFMG FAIMER, and is pleased that GEMx is a service of such a wonderful organization.

ECFMG FAIMER continues to receive recognition for the good work we do around the world.  ECFMG FAIMER continues to strengthen opportunities for our services and programs like GEMx, and garner opportunities to collaborate with WHO, Nursing Now and other highly-reputable organizations that are committed to global health, education and quality health care.

Faith standing by WHO sign

We congratulate Faith Nawagi on her good work, contributions and commitment to GEMx, and to ECFMG FAIMER.

About Nursing Now

Nursing Now is a “three-year global campaign (2018-2020), aims to improve health by raising the profile and status of nursing worldwide.”  Nursing Now works in collaboration with International Council of Nurses and WHO.  Barbara Stilwell is the Executive Director of Nursing Now Global Campaign; a former FAIMER Board member.

That was epic: my one month rotation at Universidad Iberoamericana!

Filed under: GEMx Student Reflections

Basel Magdy Abdelmohsen Abdelazeem, Ain Shams University student in front of UNIBE

Basel Magdy Abdelmohsen Abdelazeem

For those who dare to dream, the world spreads out its arms, and for those who aspire to realize their dreams, they conquer the world. This belief has made my family and I walk diverse paths to learn, compete and shine. Due to the continuous strive to chase our passions, we became a family of dreamers.

My name is Basel, Student at Ain Shams University – Faculty of Medicine, Cairo, Egypt. My nickname is Dr. Nobel because My dream is to get the Nobel Award in Medicine in the future Insha’Allah.

Abdel in front of Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud emergency center

I’ve gone on a lot of electives worldwide, but this was a totally new different experience in the Dominican Republic. My rotation was divided in two hospitals. The first one in Hospital General de la Plaza de la Salud (HGPS) which is a teaching hospital facility and has helped more than 140,000 low-income patients with discounts and waivers of its health treatment plans. I did one week at internal medicine Department both inpatient and outpatient in addition to one week in ICU and Emergency Department.

At the second hospital,Hospital Escuela Dr. Jorge Abraham Hazoury Bahles (INDEN), one of the greatest hospitals in diabetes’ management in Latin America, I went through every aspect in diabetes management starting from the outpatient clinic by ordering basic lab & imaging and adjusting the doses of medication and Insulin up to management of diabetic retinopathy and surgical aspect of the Diabetic foot. It was really an amazing experience.

Abdel with several colleagues in a classroom

Can you imagine that you go through all medical specialties in a month while getting the opportunity to improve your Spanish at the same time?! We had morning case report, grand round, interacted with physicians and residents and finally the awesome UNIBE students  who are all so nice, humble and willing to help you as much as they can. And fortunately, they speak both English and Spanish so you Ain Sham Universcan overcome the language barrier while interacting with the patient.

 

There are seven broad benefits of my rotation there and you should consider them in your next medical rotation.

  • First, I expanded my clinical knowledge and skill set as the style of medicine you’re studying is not universal, nor are the cases you’re familiar with.
  • Second,  I must admit, I was nervous on my first day on the wards. I had no idea what to expect but the doctors made me feel like a part of the team. I found out what I’m made of and strengthened it.
  • Third I made myself more employable as an elective abroad stands out as a badge of durability, resourcefulness, and aptitude.

  • Fourth, traveling is an opportunity to see a part of the world you’ve never seen and might never otherwise consider.
  • Fifth, an elective helped me in building my personal and professional network and if you’re clever about it, you can also build an international network of professional contacts
  • Sixth, I sharpened my language and communication skills, right now I’m confident enough to take history and doing the complete physical examination in Spanish.
  • And finally, it renew my perspective on the worldwide health and I mentioned before my life goal is Nobel award and you should know a little bit about everything in each field in this world and you must know everything about your specialty.

 

Away of medicine, let’s talk about the country and culture.  The Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean region. I traveled a lot, so I learned how to enjoy each country to the most.

Abdel with friends from UNIBE having fun at a bar
This country is awesome if you have the correct company, I mean that you should interact with the real Dominican people and hang out with them. There is an amazing beach here, the old city, jungles– I mean literally– great nature. If you like dancing and drinking we’d definitely have a lot of fun as everyone literally is dancing to Latino music everywhere.,  Don’t forget to visit the Colonial Zone and Punta Cana. And make sure that you eat Dominican food made by locals and ask them to teach you how to dance to Latino music. You will have a lot of fun if you have good communication skills and know a little bit of Spanish.

Abdel with a professor and a colleague

My last word is thank you for everyone who helped me to get this rotation, for every doctor who taught me during the last month, for every student I met there and helped me.

Thank you, Dr. Mejia, Program Manager of HGPS

Thank you, Dr. Ammar Ibrahim, Director General of INDEN

Thank you, Danny, UNIBE Coordinator

Thank you, Eunice Kamami, GEMx Student Engagement Assistant

And Big Thank you to GEMx to giving us these opportunities.

Reflecting on the 2019 IQMU Competition in Manipal India (Sponsored by GEMx)

Filed under: GEMx Sponsored Events

Post by Harsh Kahlon and Mahisha Virdiana, Medical Students at Kasturba Medical College Manipal

Team of medical students

The International Quiz for Medical Undergraduates, IQMU, is a student-run initiative hosted by Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, a name synonymous with quality medical education, as proven by its consistent ranking amongst the top 10 medical colleges in the country over the years. KMC Manipal is a constituent of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, a world-class institution sprawled over 600 acres in Karnataka, India.

Students working together

IQMU was conceived from the experience and inspiration gathered by a team of students who attended a similar international competition – CICoM, in Mexico, in the year 2016. Upon their return to Manipal, their stories ignited a spark in their fellow peers to create an event which strives to facilitate international academic and cultural exchange, and thus IQMU made its debut in 2017 under the expert stewardship of Ms. Nandini Majumdar and Ms. Anushree Puttur, and the continuous support of its sponsor, GEMx.

IQMU's 3rd edition was hosted in Kasturba Medical College, Manipal from 6th to 9th March 2019, and saw the release of an online portal for international teams to participate from their home countries. IQMU 2019 saw participation from across India and countries such as Mexico, Nigeria and Nepal. The quiz consisted of five rounds, which tested the participants' knowledge and understanding in the fields of basic medical sciences such anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology, and core medical subjects such as medicine, surgery and obstetrics.

 

Students working together to answer questions
The rounds varied far and wide in their formats, ranging from spotters and clinical vignettes, written question papers comprising of multiple-choice questions, matrices and comprehensive passages, to IQMU’s acclaimed Mental Relay, which provides participants with a clinical case scenario that must be solved by ordering from a set panel of investigations that would lead to diagnosis, in a relay fashion, as would be in a hospital setting. This year’s edition saw the addition of a crowd-favourite – an escape room-based wild card round that challenged the participants’ clinical and diagnostic skills in the presence of a ticking clock.

Participants were also engaged in enlightening, fun workshops conducted by the college’s academic clubs and mesmerized by cultural events which served to both provide a reprieve from the fierce, competitive quizzing and to also enrich their experiences.

IQMU is thus an amazing opportunity for medical students worldwide to experience the best possible 3-day quest comprising of an extensive, nail-biting quiz, informative workshops, programs showcasing the rich culture of India, clinical and medical learning and most importantly, interaction and exchange with other medical students of different backgrounds from around the world!

lighting a ceremonial lamp

The next edition of IQMU will take place at KMC, Manipal on 6th to 8th March, 2020. Email iqmu.manipal@gmail.com to get started on signing up for the adventure and learning of a lifetime at Kasturba Medical College, set against the scenic backdrop of the coastal university town of Manipal.

Follow IQMU!
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/IQMU2019/
Instagram: @iqmu2019

Dermatology in the US

Filed under: GEMx Student Ambassador Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Divya Gautam, Student Ambassador at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and University College Dublin (UCD) Malaysia Campus has completed an elective exchange at PAGNY in New York City.

Divya Gautam

The aims of this elective were to gain a better understanding of some of the rotations that I am interested in and to narrow down the field in which I hope to specialize as well as to learn how the American healthcare system functions. In medical school, we were unable to achieve a specialized exposure to Dermatology and therefore, this elective was very attractive to me as it offered the opportunity to shadow one of the most established dermatologists in the United States. As an international student in Malaysia, I have gone through most of my clinical years barely scraping the minimum requirement for patient interaction. It is an entirely different experience to be able to converse with a patient about their problems in your first language and be able to counsel a patient directly, instead of through a translator. Another major objective was to be able to work on research with PAGNY, an established organization that is responsible for publishing hundreds of quality papers. Forming contacts within the United States system is extremely vital for me to give myself a chance for furthering my career.

Divya with Dr. Bijan Safai, Dermatologist

Throughout this elective, there were some ups and downs due to the mere timing of the placement as it was around the winter holiday period. There were fluctuations in the number of patients being seen; however, I was, without a doubt able to identify some key differences in the practice of medicine in Malaysia and the USA. I was very happy with the way I was treated as a medical student. When I was rotating from clinic to clinic, I was always introduced as part of the consulting team and was asked for my medical opinion when it came to clinical decision making. Working with the physicians at PAGNY, encouraged me to continue my journey in medicine. I was on the elective with three other students, and during the research segment, we were given the option of being put on existing research or creating our own topic and literature review. We, of course, being extremely ambitious, as medical students are, chose the latter. Our research paper is a cross-cultural literature review on the substance use patterns in the countries that we are from. In my opinion, given the massive burden of substance abuse and dependence on the healthcare systems, globally, this paper can be an asset to warrant further research on intervention and public policy.

Now for some fun stuff—since I grew up in the States and a lot of my friends from boarding school ended up there, I spent a lot of time catching up with old friends and just drinking A LOT of apple cider and eating A LOT of Christmas market food. I could list about a hundred things I fell in love with while I was in Manhattan. The dollar pizzas, the museums, the brunch spots, the convenience of the subway, the musicians and street artists, the hustle and bustle of Wall Street, the fantasy lifestyle on the Upper East Side, the strolls through central park, hearing over 20 different languages on your way home from the clinic, the list goes on and on and on and on!

Divya with Anna, Justin, Maureen, (PAGNY exchange facilitator), and other students at PAGNY

I want to thank GEMx for providing me with this fantastic opportunity. It is rare to carry out an elective in the United States without having given the USMLE, and together with PAGNY, this was made possible. All of the physicians that I worked with were extremely kind and did not hold back on teaching us and guiding us through the rotation. Our research coordinator was always available in case we were having difficulties and provided us with ample resources to aide our monumental task of doing a literature review over a span of 6 weeks.

Overall, it was also a great experience, being able to live in Manhattan and experience the diverse culture of the state of New York—that too during the most wonderful time of the year!. I’m more confident in my decision to practice in the United States as I feel that I understand the structure and inner workings of their healthcare system. I’ve been able to successfully establish a good relationship with practicing physicians that have been kind enough to offer recommendations and continued contact for mentorship.

Take Hold of the Learning Opportunity

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Onthatile Thusi

 

Post by Onthatile Thusi, a medical student from University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences [South-South] who recently completed an elective exchange at the University of Malawi.

The plane cut through the clouds to reveal the first views of Malawi from the sky. The land was patterned with areas of green and brown and scattered housing. The scene was a great contrast to the landscape of Johannesburg which is populated with housing. As the plane began to fall towards the earth the exhilaration rose in my body while the thought of stepping my feet onto to a foreign land soon became a reality.

Queen Elizabeth Central Academic Hospital found in the city of Blantyre, Malawi is the largest referral health facility in the country of Malawi and was the setting of my 4-week elective along with 4 other students from South Africa. I was in the Department of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Mallewa.  I was placed in the male medical Ward 3b and was welcomed by the team responsible for Bay 2 which consisted of Dr. Lester, an experienced consultant, Dr. Basami a proficient intern, Dr. Pink an enthusiast registrar, and Allan Masapi a friendly and helpful final year medical student. The only directive we were given for the elective was to follow the final year students timetable and we were given the freedom to attend any of the lectures or teachings carried out by the Department of Medicine.

Onthatile Thusi with her colleagues

“You are responsible for your own learning”.

This was a statement repeated to us throughout our second year of study and it is now in this elective experience, that I have come to grasp the significance of this statement. There are numerous opportunities to learn from patients whilst in the wards. The team working in Ward-3b, Bay 2, and the members of the Department of Medicine was willing to impart their knowledge onto the students. However, it was my responsibility to take hold of the learning opportunity and initiate engagement and discussion with every source of knowledge at my disposal. Other than the scheduled final year student lectures, and the bedside teachings carried out during the ward rounds twice a week, learning was often self-directed.

My day at Queens began with student case presentations which I found very valuable. In these case presentations, I saw the theoretical knowledge acquired in medical school come to life through practice.  It is in the discussions of these cases where I learned the value of the art of medicine in a resource-limited setting. Each investigation was challenged for its relevance and utility. The principles imparted in these discussions are some that I hope to apply in my personal practice of medicine in my home country of South Africa that face a number of resource limitations with a similar HIV burden. Following case presentations, were morning ward rounds often done with the intern and joined by the student and consultant twice a week. It is in these ward rounds that I was inspired by the extremely knowledgeable intern Dr. Basami and had the privilege of seeing the art of medicine practiced with efficiency and great proficiency despite the many limitations.  Under the patient guidance of interns and final year students, I was able to carry out a number of my clinical skills and acquire new skills with the encouraging consent of the patient.  It was often that the ward round and ward work was completed before 13:00, and I would find myself with nothing to do the rest of the day. I attempted to shadow an intern in the medical admissions in the Emergency Department or searched the wards for a doctor to have discussions surrounding patient’s cases.

One of the very exciting experiences was at the Grand Ward round which took place once a week. It is in this ward round where ongoing studies at the hospital were presented. Exhilarating discussions were had on the clinical relevance of the study and conclusions were made from the study. Active conversations between departments would take place on how the challenges and recommendations brought forward by the study could be mitigated and implemented. It was exciting to hear the dynamic interactions between professionals that bring tangible change in public health and ultimately improve patient care.

Malawi home

Malawi the warm heart of Africa. The pulse of this heart is felt through the people of Malawi.  The patients I encountered were willing to engage with me and consented to my intention to learn new skills with welcoming eyes. The language was a great obstacle, as most of the patients speak Chichewa, there were very few patients that spoke English. I felt that my opportunity to gain crucial experience in clerking and presenting patients was hindered. This language barrier limited my ability to perform procedures and examinations using a patient-centered approach, as all communication was done through a third party.

The pulse of this warm heart of Africa extended outside the hospital confines. The owners and staff at Home Up guesthouses, our accommodation for the duration of the elective, welcomed our arrival with expectant and cheerful spirits. Throughout our stay, they created a friendly and cozy environment. The staff was eager to help in any regard and provided valuable information to make the most of our experience in Malawi.

The vibrant and energetic spirit of Malawi is reflected in its landscape. We had the privilege of exploring some of the great sites in Malawi. We trekked through the majestic Mount Mulanje, trudged the lush green forestry of Zomba plateau and strolled through the tranquil fields at Satemwa tea plantations.

Views from Zomba Plateau

The friendly people, the warm culture and the exposure to a number of new medical experiences made these 4 weeks greatly fruitful. Despite the delays during the application process and the challenges in securing the funding before my departure, thanks to the diligent work of Mr. Motlhabani and all involved this elective experience was made possible. Each moment has been a true privilege. I have obtained valuable exposure to a wide range of medical conditions, although ideally, I would have enjoyed the chance to rotate through the different medical wards and engage with different doctors. Similarly to South Africa, Malawi has a large HIV burden and through this elective, I learned crucial principles concerning the monitoring of HIV in a resource-limited setting. The greatest personal revelation that I have taken from my 4 weeks in the Department of Medicine, is that true learning comes with an eager and earnest attempt to acquire it. I have retained a great amount of information due to a personal growth desire to gain a greater understanding of the patients I encounter and I hope to continue to grow into an experienced and proficient doctor.

 

My GEMx Elective Added Value to My Medical Career

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Stephen Odiwuor

Post by Stephen Odiwuor, a medical student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya [MEPI]

I was born around the mid-90s as a son to John Ochieng and Janet Ochieng at home in the middle of the night, with the assistance of a traditional midwife as the only complementary and alternative medicine provider on standby at that critical hour of my birth. My name, Odiwuor, means born at midnight.  I thank God that neither my mother nor I developed perinatal and post-natal complications because had my mother experienced any obstetrics complications, there would be either no ambulance or vehicle to rush us to the nearest health facility except for an old, poorly maintained wheelbarrow that could be easily accessed from the nearest neighbor.

This meant that I had to catch up with the immunizations the vaccines that I should have received at birth, at 6 weeks, at 10 weeks and at 14 weeks later on in the course of my infancy period. In the course of my neonatal period, my mother reports that she developed breast disease, which, after literature review and medical knowledge, I concluded could be either mastitis or breast abscess. I then had to be shifted from exclusive breastfeeding to completely cow milk and that was the end of me with breastfeeding at that tender age before the recommended six months period had elapsed. My parents could not afford the infant formula milk because we were wallowing in the mud and mire of poverty.

At the Zimbabwe Medical Students’ Association annual general meeting (AGM)

In our village, I had to put up with a life that meant learning how to live with malnutrition and, occasionally acute malnutrition and severe malaria due to lack of untreated mosquito nets. My passion to pursue a bachelors in medicine and  a bachelors in surgery course is being driven by these health concerns that I had to survive right from my perinatal period, the immunizations I did not receive according to schedule, the exclusive breastfeeding that I did not get a chance to enjoy, the malnutrition I suffered among other health risks that I faced.  I, therefore, acknowledge the Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) for their Global Educational Exchange in Medicine and the health professions (GEMx) that sponsored my electives at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, Parirenyatwa Hospital, that would help me realize my dream of giving back to the community as a doctor by addressing the health challenges that I faced.

It was in early 2017 as I was going about my normal academic obligations at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) school of medicine as a fourth-year bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery (MBChB) student when, a bachelor of pharmacy student, whose lecturer is Dr. Karara, the JKUAT GEMx Coordinator, sent me a link about GEMx electives. It was my first time to hear about GEMx so I did not take it with a lot of seriousness that it deserved. After a period of contemplation, I decided to give it a trial. I opened a student account on the website and requested Dr. Karara to confirm my details and accept me in the system since she is the JKUAT GEMx Coordinator which, she did. I then proceeded to start my applications for elective. I applied to Kwame Nkrumah University of Ghana, the University of KwaZulu Natal and the University of Zimbabwe. My electives would be in August and September 2018. University of Zimbabwe College of health sciences accepted my applications after uploading all the requirements for the elective on the system and submitting my applications.

At the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ)

I arrived in Zimbabwe on 20th of August 2018 at around midday and went straight to the University of Zimbabwe College of health sciences. To my amazement, the elective department had been waiting for me. After a few minutes of engagement and introduction, I was taken to the building at which I would be hosted for the 42-day period that I would be at Parirenyatwa Hospital for my elective. The awesome reception, the transport around the city and the orientation that I received from the elective department on the first day are among the many things I cannot fail to highlight in bold when talking about my elective experience. I did my clinical elective rotation in internal medicine. Among the things I learned were: The good attitude of the consultants towards both students and patients, the awesome reception by the nursing staff, the interactive sessions we had with the junior registered medical officers, the healthy discussions we had with the final year MBChB students, the vast medical knowledge that I gained during ward rounds and enjoyed the beautiful culture of the Shona community. Generally, it was such a life-changing experience for me. Moreover, I was also able to attend the Zimbabwe Medical Students’ Association (ZiMSA) annual general meeting and Dinner and the Family medicine conference at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, Gellfand hall.

GEMx sponsored everything during my elective period. GEMx sponsored my accommodation, my upkeep, my flights to and from Zimbabwe and all other expenses. Special thanks to Mrs. Faith Nawagi, the GEMx Africa Coordinator for the constant counsel and help that she provided for me at every stage of my application, Mrs. Chuma Vunganayi, the elective coordinator at University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences and Dr. Monica Karara, the GEMx JKUAT coordinator. I also want to acknowledge and appreciate Dr. Reuben W. Thuo, the Dean school of medicine (SoMED) JKUAT, for the recommendation letters and the support he accorded me towards the application for my elective attachment.

Thank you GEMx, you have added a lot of value to my medical career.

 

 

 

 

Increasing Quality and Accessibility to reach everyone, everywhere

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Nyasha Dzinotyiwei

Post by Nyasha Ronald Herbert Dzinotyiwei, a student from University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences [MEPI] who recently completed an elective exchange at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Global Educational Exchange in Medicine (GEMx) for providing opportunities for medical students all over the world to go on exchange programmes. I would also like to thank my school, University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences, for selecting me to take part in the programme. I would also like to thank the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST) for accepting my application, as well as Ms. Charlotte Osei Boateng, Bismark Addu-Appiah (the Exchange Officer) for assisting me in settling in. I would also like to thank the medical students at KNUST for welcoming me and making me feel at home. Medase pa!

Experience in Ghana

My experience in Ghana has been awesome. For sure I had never imagined that I was going to experience what I had experienced. I love so many things about Ghana – the rich heritage, the different languages, the traditional dress (called Kente), the food, and the people. More importantly, I also noted the many similarities between Ghana and Zimbabwe.  Moving forward, I can use the different things I learned to make suggestions and improvements in my home country.

Nyasha and his friends

Elective Placement

I took up an elective placement in internal medicine that lasted 4 weeks. I was based at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), which is the hospital affiliated with the KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology). I was placed in 4 different departments: Cardiology, Respiratory Medicine, Nephrology, and Neurology. Each placement in the respective subspecialties lasted 1 week. I had difficulties communicating with patients, as some of them were not comfortable speaking in English.

Nonetheless, I managed to communicate with them, and I managed to examine patients as well.

Adjusting to the hospital set up was not very difficult for me because the teaching styles employed at the hospital were identical to those I was accustomed to back home. One of the major things I learned from my stay in Ghana was the provision of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and how it aimed at providing equity in healthcare across economic divides in Ghana. I learned about the strengths & weaknesses of the system and how best the system could be tailored to meet the needs of the population.

Nyasha standing outside of the Emergency Department

The teams I was attached to were the teams that had been on duty at the Accidents & Emergencies section. The system in Ghana differs from that in Zimbabwe. While in Zimbabwe we have firms that have admitting days, in Ghana they have duties in which firms take care of patients in the Accidents & Emergencies Department (Our equivalent of Casualty). Back home, there are about

5 firms which, despite being specialized, admit all patients sent to Internal Medicine. In Ghana, the medicine subspecialties operate independently and therefore cardiology patients only attend to Cardiology patients & consults. It reduces the workload tremendously and I believe it also improves outcomes. I also learned about a triaging system for patients who present to casualty, which divides patients into green, yellow, and red depending on the triaging score, which also estimates the severity of disease/injury.

 

Food

The most intriguing part of my stay in Ghana was the new food. I had never seen such variety in dishes! Ranging from Jollof rice, fried rice, and Waache to Fufu, Omo Tuo, red red, Banku and Kenkey, I had the opportunity to experience a different array of dishes. The food was awesome, and I loved it.

Jollof Rice

Other Experiences

I also had the opportunity to meet many other exchange students who were affiliated with KATH as well: many of whom were from Germany, Finland, Austria, and Nigeria. The experience was very nice and I got to make new friends and learn about their health systems. I also got to know how their medical experiences have been and how they differ from ours. I made friends that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.

I also had the opportunity to travel whilst in Ghana. I went to Cape Coast & Elmina, and while there I visited Cape Coast and St. Georges’ Castles. I learned more about the slave trade, and how the castles were used to detain slaves while waiting for slave merchants to arrive and collect them as they began their journey across the Atlantic Ocean. I also visited Kakum forest while there. I also went to Mole National Park, which is northern Ghana. The environment was different from the one I had already adjusted to in Kumasi. I had a nice time with the elephants J and I also visited the Ancient Mosque in Larabanga, which happens to be the oldest mosque in West Africa

Elephants in the background

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony of the 14th International Federation of Medical Students Associations’ (IFMSA) African Regional Meeting (ARM), which was held for the first time in Ghana and in Kumasi. The 13th edition was held in Zimbabwe, so for me, it was a déjà vu experience. I had the opportunity to meet people from many countries, including my own. The theme for the 14th edition was “Rural and remote healthcare – Increasing quality and accessibility to reach everyone, everywhere”. I was inspired by the address given by the Dean of Public Health, Professor Ellis Owusu-Dabo, whose message was in accordance with WHO recommendations. He highlighted 5 main aspects: providing proper healthcare financing (for which he commended the launching of the national healthcare financing scheme in Ghana); deployment of health personnel to remote hard-to-reach places in countries; availability of essential medicines; compiling health statistics and data (incorporating health informatics), and ensuring quality service delivery

Opening ceremony of the 14th International Federation of Medical Students Associations’ (IFMSA) African Regional Meeting (ARM)

 

Ophthalmology in Mombasa City

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by David Mutanga, a student at Mbarara University of Science and Technology [COESCA]

David Mutanga

Introduction

Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre is located in Mombasa city. Mombasa city is the coastal city of the nation of Kenya which is in East Africa. Basically, Mombasa is known as an island. It has many historical sites such as the Fort Jesus, The big Tusks, the Swahili Arab old town, and the first restaurant in East Africa. This city is an international tourist destination.

Lighthouse for Christ Eye Centre is a modern Eye hospital in Mombasa, located in the coastal region of Kenya. It has ophthalmologists and clinical officers seeing a large volume of patients.

My reason to choose Lighthouse for Christ was that it is among the highest reputable hospitals in Kenya. It is also a good place for training because there is all the equipment’s required for eye check-up (e.g. visual field machine). There is very skilled personnel with Christ love ready to support students on their campus. As a result of all this, the number of patients seen in a day is always high.

Experience during the Elective

During my tenure time at Lighthouse, I had two days in OPD, three days at the theatre every week. Towards the end of the five weeks at the campus, I was given an opportunity to work with an outreach team which took place over 194 km away from Mombasa.

  1. OPD (Out Patient Department)

In OPD, I was working with a team of 6 staff. Amongst the six, I was with three senior ophthalmologists:  one senior OCO and others were technicians. Handling the patients at OPD, I always had someone to consult and there was someone ready to assist me as much as I needed. Because of this, I really have improved my skills in the Visual field and OCT interpretation.

David working with his colleagues.

  1. Surgery

The team in theatre apart from the surgeon is composed of a team of six technicians who are highly skilled. Throughout my time here, I did around 6 small incision cataract surgeries without close supervision and this increased my confidence in surgery.

-A one-week Phaco workshop with an international expert surgeon from U.S.A permitted me to know more about Phaco machines and it was my first time to appreciate that modern technology.

-During this elective, I did my first cryotherapy after excision to a patient with a conjunctival neoplasm.

-The one week outreach to the rural areas was a good experience for me and in fact, now that I’m coming from a rural area, I would wish that will be part of my work when I graduate.

During the one week camp, I was able to see more than 350 patients and around 68 mature cataracts were diagnosed for surgery.

  1. Weekends

Mombasa is a big city with significant recreational sites. I enjoyed the walk on the shore of the Indian Ocean and had memorable days of swimming. Commuting within the city is so easy because there are the three wheel motorcycles known as Tuktuk. You can easily move from one end to the other. Security wise, the city is well beefed up, apart from some areas where you see the streets young and old people. Though a big city, it has some parts of the city that is very clean and some very dirty.

To the South, you cross over to the mainland with a ferry. I tried it and during the peak hour, the passenger ferry boards thousands of people across. From the North, you cross by a Nyali bridge and to the west through a causeway.

David on a camel enjoying his weekend.

  1. Acknowledgments

-To GEMx and COECSA for providing funds to this Elective program.

-To the Medical Director of the Lighthouse Dr. Fredrick Korir (Senior Ophthalmologist – specialized in the Cornea), Dr. Ibrahim Matende (Pediatric Ophthalmologist) and all the staff of Lighthouse.

-To the Department of Ophthalmology Mbarara University of Science and Technology.

Growing as an Individual

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Rumbidzai Mupfuti, MBChB student at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences taking an elective exchange to University of Kwazulu-Natal School of Nursing and Public Health.

My name is Rumbidzai Mupfuti, I’m a 23-year-old lady, currently in my final year doing MBChB at the University of Zimbabwe. Like most people, during my 4th year, I was super excited about participating in an elective but to be honest my excitement was mostly to do with the hype of getting to leave the country and going for a tourist adventure. At my medical school, we always had elective day sometime in April and medical students would share their different destinations and their encounters. When I started my 4th year, I had all sorts of plans to go do my elective overseas because I had always dreamt of doing my elective in a first world country. Finally, it was my turn to have an amazing experience I’d always thought about.

In January of 2017, I started applying to many universities abroad and talked to my predecessors on how I could approach. I had already made all my budgets for the various destinations I hoped for and had started looking for sponsorships. With all the enthusiasm I had, sadly it was now June and still, I was far away from landing any of my dream destinations.

It was just one day, as I was strolling with a friend and she mentioned GEMx…to be honest I had just heard of it briefly, as our faculty office was encouraging people to apply but I never put it to mind since I didn’t have much knowledge about it. So my friend, Tinashe, shared a little bit more about GEMx and I remember going home that day with so many questions about, why I wanted to go for an elective and what my expectations were in relation with my future goals within the medical fraternity.

GEMx was a fairly new thing at my medical school; it had been running for a few years. However, going through the GEMx website I realized how this experience would make me grow as an individual and give me an opportunity to learn more about the health care in surrounding nations, and there was no better time than NOW!

Looking back, I’m grateful I had that conversation because it gave me a different view and bigger picture towards elective attachment. It was as if I had a whole new view…..yes my dream was to do my elective overseas but I still failed to answer the why and how it would help me as a health practitioner and my goal. I realized that I’m very passionate about Global Health particularly in Africa as a whole…. so to cut the long story short, my heart was here, home in Africa.

So given the few months that were left I pursued my GEMx application, and fortunately I was selected as part of the 3 students from my medical school. I was excited and expectant to be visiting our neighbors, South Africa in the beautiful city of Durban.

Travel

We traveled from Harare to Durban by air.  It was a fairly short journey approximately 4 hours and connected in Johannesburg. Upon our arrival in Durban, it was one of the best experiences. If I was asked to describe Durban in a few words I would say, “CULTURAL EXPLOSION!!!” A place which is multi-racial with so much energy and a warm breeze climate. We were welcomed with love, with a lovely lady, Viv who we stayed with for the whole 4 weeks in the lovely neighborhood of Wentworth. With all the love she showed us, this became a second home for us.

Rue with her friends

Hospital Experience

We were nervous about our first day of elective at Wentworth Hospital. All sorts of questions were running through our heads: where we would fit in or even adjust? I remember our first day, we got lost initially but eventually found our way and we were welcomed by our coordinator, Dr. Naidoo. He was the head of Family Medicine at the hospital and he guided us through step by step concerning our 4 weeks attachment in Family Medicine where we got to rotate through Accident and Emergency, Medical ward, Chronic and Acute OPD and the HIV clinic. We had such an amazing team at Wentworth Hospital, from the doctors, nurses, and staff. They treated us like fellow colleagues.

As I said earlier, Durban is a multiracial city and served as an educational time. It was great meeting and learning from different people’s clinical experience and the fact that despite the different backgrounds they all worked as one unit towards providing the best medical care they could give to their community. This gave me a whole different view, as I noticed that we share the same disease burden i.e HIV and its associated infections and non-communicable diseases. This made me appreciate and understand that the different disease burdens and health resource challenges we encounter in my nation go beyond our borders and the first is ours together and through interactions like these and even at a bigger scale can help stop the fight against the various disease burdens in Africa. I also noted a lot of similarities in the health protocols and the differences motivated me and gave me ideas that maybe one day would love to see being implemented back in my home country.

During our 4 week attachment, we got an opportunity to do a Quality Improvement Project on Primary prevention of chronic illnesses. I got to appreciate the importance of teamwork, as it gave us an opportunity to interact with different staff of the hospital and patients giving us insight on the importance of both health practitioners and patients in our efforts as a whole continent to improve our health in Africa as a whole. Lastly, we got an opportunity to visit a government tertiary(specialist) hospital in Durban, Albert Nkosi Hospital. It was an unforgettable experience, I appreciated how people were able to access specialist care equally regardless of different economic background. This moved me, and I thought this was a positive step towards achieving Global Health Access to Africa as a whole. I can go on and on but words can never fully describe how this experience changed my view towards health and motivation towards my career goals…Not forgetting the fun bit of Durban in conclusion, we couldn’t have missed that too

Out and About

So Durban is a tourist city with so much more to show. I can say we got a glimpse of so much great stuff there is to see in Durban…the “CULTURAL EXPLOSION” makes Durban a city full of life and love!!! We got an opportunity to tour around the city Centre and got to know a bit of history about how the city came about. Not forgetting the amazing experience at Ushaka Marine World, we got an opportunity to see one of the largest aquarium, had dolphin shows and a whole lot of activities. we also toured to Moses Madhiba Stadium were also got a glimpse of the huge stadium. We also to see a glimpse of the huge malls, the Pavilion and Gateway Malls and last but not least, because of the vast Indian Ocean, we had unlimited opportunities to swim through the warm ocean currents.

Dolphin show


Looking back, I never imagined that I would have done my attachment in South Africa but now reflecting upon my journey towards SA, I’m grateful for the opportunity I got to do my elective there. In summary, this was a priceless experience with a whole full package and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity GEMx gave us to learn and develop our leadership skills as future doctors towards the effort of building healthy communities.

Rumbidzai, Zimbabwe

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

Copyright © 2013-2019 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. All rights reserved.
Terms | Privacy