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GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Exchange from Malankara Orthodox Syrian College (MOSC), India to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Filed under: GEMx Global Network, GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Anjali Anna Thomas, Medical Student at Malankara Orthodox Syrian College (MOSC) (India) who completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Ben-Gurion University (Israel)

Anjali Anna Thomas, Medical Student at Malankara Orthodox Syrian College

What have you gained from this exchange experience offered through GEMx?  What were the benefits?

This experience has opened up a new perspective in medicine and medical education. It has helped me to understand the different kinds of health systems that are present in the world. International relations is another added benefit that I have gained through this opportunity. I was able to learn more about the life of people in a different country and gain an understanding on the various aspects like culture, language, religion, health systems and so on.

How did you prepare for your elective exchange?    Were you prepared?

I did not really do a lot of preparation for the elective. I got all the official paper works done and booked my tickets. But I think I could have learnt the language a little bit so that communication would have been much easier. The languages spoken in Israel are Hebrew and Arabic.

What did you learn from this experience both personally and professionally?  (consider your clinical experience, community experience, cultural experience, communications and interactions with faculty, staff, peers, and patient population)

Personally, I have learned that I can be open to different cultures and accept it. It has taught me to broaden my thoughts sphere. Professionally, I have learned a lot in clinical medicine, how to build a rapport with my patients, how to take samples and to do procedures. I have also learned that it is important to treat all your colleagues, be it any position they hold, in the right manner. Professional camaraderie can go a long way in building the right atmosphere at your workplace. The community at large has taught me that one should always be mindful of others around oneself.

How did you feel when you returned to your home school?

Anjali Anna Thomas completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Ben-Gurion University (Israel)

It was a fantastic experience. I felt that a lot of things that I had seen back at Israel could also be adopted at my home institution.

How is this learning relevant to you now that you are back? Can you give any examples?Will you do anything differently now?

The Infectious Medicine Department in Soroka Medical Center had a strong measures and protocols for the management of infectious diseases in the campus and I felt that such measures could be introduced in my home institution.

Can you share your story on this experience and how it has impacted you?  Were there any unexpected outcomes that you would like to share?

My colleagues and I spent a month at the Internal medicine department of the Soroka Medical center which is affiliated to the Ben Gurion University of the Negev for our elective. It was a wonderful experience. Wegot to learn a lot more about the disease spectrum that is seen in a country like Israel which is technologically advanced. We could see the advanced medical facilities that were available to the people of Israel. We also got to see how interdepartmental relations worked in giving better medical care to patients. The only glitch that we faced was initially when we applied for the elective. There was a miscommunication regarding who was in charge of the elective in the host school and we weren’t sure whom to contact for the details.

Is there anything you would recommend to students who are planning to go to this university for an elective?

I would recommend that they learn a little bit of the language to make communication with patients easier.

Were there any faculty, students, or administrators from your home or host school that helped you prepare for your trip – before, during, or after your experience?

Yes, the research co-ordinator of my home-school Dr. Anna Mathew has been a valuable support in preparing my colleagues and me for this enriching experience. in fact it was she who suggested Israel for the elective.

Did your school grant you credit for this elective experience towards your medical school graduation?  If no, then why did you not receive credit from your home school?

Yes, my home school was very appreciative and supportive of this initiative.

How did your experiences compare to your expectations and what are your thoughts?

My experiences were well beyond my expectations. I got to be a part of a great team that taught me a lot in medicine and ensured my participation. I got to see how the medical system works in a country where all its citizens have a health insurance.

What advice would you give to students who are planning to go on an elective exchange?

I would advise them to utilize every opportunity that comes their way because an opportunity once lost is lost forever.



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