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RÊRM, RIAN, RÁK (BEGIN, LEARN, LOVE)

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges

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Post by Henil Upadhyay, a medical student at Pramukhswami Medical College who completed an elective exchange in Internal Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University (SWU) in Thailand through the GEMx-SEARAME Regional Exchange Partnership.

With Dr Sirapat Tulthamaki in the Internal Medicine dept

RÊRM: The Beginning My elective program at the Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University (SWU), Thailand was the beginning of a new adventure as this was my first elective experience. On reaching Bangkok and watching “The City of Angels” rise at dawn on route to SWU was truly exhilarating. On arriving at the university I met Ms. Sureerat Ruangsri from the International Relations Office and Dr Woro Ariandini an elective student from Indonesia. She briefed us about our elective and we took a tour of the university. I had two week electives each in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at HRH Princess MahaChakri Sirindhorn Medical Center (MSMC). The SWU campus is wonderfully designed and comprises of a large lake and multiple canals. We were provided accommodation in the medical student’s dormitory.

With Dr Woro Ariandini, GEMx elective student from Indonesia

With Dr Woro Ariandini, GEMx elective student from Indonesia

RIAN: The Learning Phase My first elective was in Internal Medicine where I met my supervisor Dr Sirapat Tulthamaki. It was an absolute pleasure to work with her. My daily schedule in the Internal Medicine department consisted of attending OPDs, grand rounds, conferences, and ICU rounds. I was able to observe a wide range of diseases both infectious and chronic non-infectious diseases. Interestingly, both India and Thailand share common epidemiology for a lot of diseases. Language is one of the barriers any elective student faces in a foreign land and while most of the patient communication took place in Thai the medical students and professors stepped in whenever possible and helped me overcome this barrier. Along with enriching my clinical knowledge the OPD clinics of various sub-specialities such as Pulmonology, Haematology, Rheumatology, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), etc. gave me a new insight on patient care and an understanding of the health care system in Thailand. My most memorable experience was in Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) under Dr Siriphar Chang Sirikulchai. She has been very passionate in teaching medical students and providing comprehensive care to Chronic Kidney Disease patients.

With Dr Vatsal, Dr Ariandini and Dr Maliwan

With Dr Vatsal, Dr Ariandini and Dr Maliwan

The CKD clinic was being run very efficiently by incorporating teamwork from both medical and non- medical staff. They also arranged various activities for dietary counseling, pharmacological counseling, and lifestyle practices. In the afternoon conferences a team of resident doctors would present a clinical case to medical students and a panel of professors who would discuss the case with students at the end. I found that this was a very effective method of teaching clinical subjects as it teaches us how to approach a patient in clinical practice rather than just theoretical knowledge of the subject.

At the Wat Mahathat meditation center in Bangkok

At the Wat Mahathat meditation center in Bangkok

My second elective was in the Paediatrics department under Dr. Patamakom Pruengprasert. My daily schedule was attending ward rounds, OPD clinics, and conferences in the afternoon. Dr. Patamakom was very keen on teaching medical students. After ward rounds, were posted in NICU where premature and very sick babies were being kept so that they can receive round-the-clock care and supervision. In the afternoon I attended the paediatrics OPD under Dr Sombun Chansakunporn and Dr. Panit Taksinstien. The pediatrics department had also started a Well Baby Clinic every Wednesday where all the children were examined for adequate growth and immunization status, and the parents were counseled about the physical and mental growth of the child and the importance of regular follow-up. These electives taught me a lot about Thai culture such as the norm of greeting professors with the traditional “Wai” which I believe inculcates respect for them. Also observable was the high nationalist sentiment in Thai citizens for their country and monarchy. Learning and integrating into Thai culture and customs was truly an exhilarating experience.

RÁK: Love from Thailand We got the opportunity to explore Thailand away from the hospital during weekends. Dr. Nakharin and Ms. Nhoi helped us a lot in making travel plans. I was very fortunate to meet Mr. Maliwan at SWU who became my lifesaver in Thailand. He made sure that we didn’t face any difficulty in our trip due to the language barrier and he even accompanied us on our weekends to Bangkok. My most frequent trips were to Bangkok of course. Public transport in Thailand was easily accessible and it made our trips untiring. Bangkok’s diversity was transcendent. From the Grand Palace’s majesty to the Wat Mahathat’s simplicity and from Chatuchak’s noisy market to Chao Phraya’s serenity. Bangkok had it all. While in Bangkok I got the wonderful opportunity to attend a course on Vipassana meditation at the Wat Mahathat temple. The experience at the Wat Mahathat meditation center has made a profound impact on my mental and spiritual health and has given me a new direction in life.

With Dr Maliwan in Ongkharak

With Dr Maliwan in Ongkharak

My next visit was to Pattaya city. It is located about 100 kms southeast of Bangkok in the Chonburi province. Pattaya which is a peaceful beach city in the day quickly turns into a party spot at night. After spending the day at the Art in Paradise 3D museum we wandered off to the beach in the evening. Pattaya gave us a wonderful experience indeed but it was nowhere near to the trips in Bangkok. One of my major concerns before coming to Thailand was regarding food. I must say initially I was very apprehensive regarding Thai food but soon I was in love with it. The fine balance between different spices to produce that umami taste was only possible in Thailand. The medical students and Leo made it a lot easier for us to understand the Thai menu and they even took us to new places to set our taste buds on fire. I would like to thank ECFMG|FAIMER for their generous contribution towards funding my elective. I greatly appreciate the support of my professors here in India, Miss Elise Moore from GEMx, and Dr. Amarin Narkwichean. I would also like to thank Mr Maliwan for helping us in every possible way during our stay in Thailand and filling it with new adventures. Thailand’s diversity and its all-accepting culture have made me fall in love with it.

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