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Veni, Vidi, Amavi (We Came, We Saw, We Loved)

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Ambassador Network GEMx Student Reflections

By: Shin Loong Soong,  GEMx Student Ambassador from RCSI-UCD Malaysia Campus who participated in an internal medicine elective at Kasturba Medical College Manipal.

Located in Karnataka, India, Kasturba Medical College (KMC) Manipal is a constituent of Manipal Academy of Higher Education. Since its establishment by TMA Pai in 1953, KMC Manipal has held on to the mission of training competent, compassionate, and caring physicians by providing exceptional clinical teaching. With quality medical graduates practicing worldwide, along with having a college campus and a hospital here, as such Malaysians are no strangers to the name “Manipal”.

 

As part of the RUMC curriculum, an elective component was made mandatory for students prior to graduation, promoting medical knowledge exchange through learning from a system, settings and practices not familiar to the student however, what excited me the most, was the opportunity to travel and experience a cultural exchange. I can still remember attending a sharing session by the RUMC GEMx Ambassador, Dr Low Yik Chin back when I was a fresh third year student in RUMC. Being inspired by her experience, I decided to do my elective at KMC Manipal. As such, I submitted my application in February 2019 and was offered a place in KMC Manipal shortly after the submission of my application.

 

My elective journey in KMC Manipal began in December 2019, where I was attached to the Department of Internal Medicine, under the guidance of Dr Mukhayprana Prabhu, Professor of Medicine and Head of Unit 8 within the department. During the elective placement, I was given the opportunity to join the students in ward rounds and clinical bedside teachings by Dr Prabhu and the resident doctors. This gave me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge on appreciating clinical signs and symptoms as well as opening my eyes to rampant tropical diseases which were not commonly seen in Malaysia. Seeing rare diseases like these was a learning experience of a lifetime. Also beyond my expectations was the opportunity to write a case report on a rare facial fungal infection, working with Dr Prabhu and other authors, which we intend to submit for a journal publication in the future.

 

Physicians used to rely on their senses; seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling for physical anomalies to guide their diagnosis. Technological advancement has slowly superseded the role of a clinical examination in reaching a diagnosis, and although they are more sensitive and specific, they could also cause harm to patients, e.g. pain during blood taking and radiation exposure while taking an x-ray. However, this doesn’t demean the importance of these investigative tools. As such, the recipe of a good doctor would be having a strong foundation on the wisdom of modern medicine in appreciating clinical signs and symptoms and to apply evidence based practices effectively.

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced during my elective placement is the language barrier. Despite having the teaching and discussions conducted in English, most of the patients admitted were unable to converse in English, and with my inability to converse in Kannada, I was initially fearful that this compromised my learning, as clinical learning relies on communication with patients. However, the challenge was easily overcome with the help from my peers and the resident doctor, Dr Poonam Kamath, who have willingly took some of their valuable time to translate and explain the patients’ conditions to me.

With Malaysia being a big cultural melting pot that consists of three major race groups (Malay, Chinese and Indian), I was exposed to different cultures from a young age, and have always loved Indian cuisine. There are many things that I enjoy and like about India, the colourful sarees, the smell of incense and spices, the scenery comprising animals like cows and dogs roaming freely in the streets, the taste of delicious and authentic Indian cuisine, and the amazing Indian hospitality. As I travelled to India alone, I initially experienced some culture shocks and difficulty in adapting to life in India. But it is due to their amazing hospitality, and the kindness from a stranger who later become a friend, that I never felt lonely and my journey in India turned out to be amazing.

 

More than an opportunity for academic and clinical knowledge development, my elective journey in KMC Manipal, India has allowed me to expand my social networks and form many valuable friendships. Strong bonds were created even though it was just a short 4 week elective. Multiple life lessons have impacted me and lead me to count my blessings. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Prabhu, the resident doctors, and my fellow peers who made this elective journey a fruitful and memorable one. Some feelings are hard to express in words, so to conclude my elective journey in KMC Manipal, I would say “Veni, Vidi, Amavi”.

 

Rwanda: A Land of a Thousand Hills and a Thousand Opportunities

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Ambassador Network GEMx Student Reflections

New Blog By: Myles Dworkin medical student at Sidney Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University who has completed his elective at the Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (Rwanda) through GEMx 

Rwanda is a small country located in eastern Africa covered by lush green forest and smoldering volcanoes. While the country is known as the land of a thousand hills, its capital, Kigali, might better be characterized as the city of a thousand opportunities. New businesses can be seen popping up on every corner and towering buildings appear as if constructed overnight. It represents one of the few places on earth where one can witness innovation in real-time. I have been lucky enough to work in Rwanda in various capacities for the past 5 years. When I became aware of the opportunity to formally study in Kigali at the Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) through the GEMx partnership I immediately schedule my next trip.

One of the first things you notice when arriving at CHUK is the beauty of the surrounding areas. Kigali is constructed in the peaks and valleys of a series of large hills and you can see exactly what this means at the hospital. For those interested in studying at CHUK, the hospital is located close to the city center and there are several different housing options. I had a few friends living in Kigali, so I arranged to stay with them, but Airbnb and limited international student housing are also available. My colleagues at the hospital quickly made me feel welcomed and provided all the information I would need regarding where to stay and how to get around. On the first day, several of them accompanied me to the nearest market to ensure that I could get my phone and data plan set up. I cannot speak highly enough of my fellow students. Their hospitality and willingness to support me while dedicated to the rigors of medical school were fundamental to my experience and I look forward to the day when I can repay the favor.

My greatest passion and academic area of interest is surgery, specifically in resource-limited environments. As such, I arranged to spend 6 weeks working with the orthopedic surgery department at CHUK. While the international effects concerning communicable diseases have received attention in the past, the burden of surgical disease has only recently been identified as a growing public health crisis. A 2015 study performed by the Lancet Commission identified many of the areas of greatest need for improved surgical capacity to be located within low- and middle-income countries such as Rwanda. As a student pursuing a career in global surgery, I found CHUK to be the ideal place to study the intersection of surgery and public health. 

Orthopedics is a dedicated specialty is still relatively new in Rwanda as they have only recently graduated their first residency class. This provided me the opportunity to spend time with the residents and medical students in their dedicated orthopedic curriculum. Each day we would meet at 7 am for the morning conference. During this time, we would present new patients from the previous day and review approaches for upcoming cases. This was followed by a lecture by a student or resident on a relevant orthopedic topic. We would round on the orthopedic ward around 8:30 am before heading to the operating theater where we would spend the rest of the day. We would typically perform between 5-10 procedures per day with trips to the emergency room to consult new patients or lectures by attending physicians between cases.

Orthopedic trauma is a significant contributor to the burden of disease in the country, so the primary area of focus was on traumatology. This was ideal for a young student interested in surgery as it allowed for an in-depth review and exposure to anatomic relationships. I was especially interested to learn the similarities and differences in approach to care between CHUK, which is the primary trauma center in the country, and orthopedic trauma care in the US. I was comforted to find many similar protocols and procedures and was fascinated by the ingenuity and problem-solving ability of the Rwandan residents and surgeons I worked with. Despite well-documented resource limitations, they found a way to provide the best possible care to their patients allowing them to return to their friends and family. I was inspired by the compassion and work ethic of these physicians and hope to be able to obtain the education and training need to join them. I was exposed to a wide range of orthopedic trauma and learned an incredible amount in my short time at CHUK.

Despite the busy schedule at the hospital, I was able to take some time to see Kigali and the surrounding countryside. Kigali is a great city with an up and coming arts scene and great restaurants. As I have mentioned, I have been working in Rwanda for the past 5 years, so I have been to many beautiful places. This includes monkey trekking in Nyungwe Forest, safaris in Akagera National Park, and relaxing beach vacations on Lake Kivu. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to see Rwanda’s world-famous gorilla population in Volcanoes National Park, but I guess I’ll just have to return for another trip and another opportunity.

Journey to the Art of Medicine and Life

Filed under: From GEMx Staff GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

By: Kirellos Atef Zaki Abboud from Ain shams University (Egypt) who has completed his elective at The University of Pavia (Italy) through GEMx

It was my first time in Europe. I was a bit afraid and was expecting a lot of troubles. When the plane was landing, I could see how Italy is beautiful and how it’s so green. You could only see green areas, homes, and roads. It was so charming and relieving just to look at it for 15 minutes before landing. I landed safely and started my journey in a foreign country. I searched for a place to stay hoping for an apartment and luckily, I found a suitable one. I traveled on Friday so by the time I arrived it was the weekend. I decided to have a tour on foot to explore the shops and transportation. I found it difficult to communicate at first because not many Italian speak English, but after about ten days I could speak some Italian words that are useful at shops and transportation, and of course google translator was a savior in many situations.

(Left to right) with Prof.Ciro Esposito. Prof.Massimo Toreggiani. & Prof.Marco Colucci.

I called Prof.Ciro Esposito – The Head of Nephrology Department at ICS Maugeri – and informed him that I’d arrived, and he explained to me the way and the transportation I should take to reach the hospital. I met my colleagues, there were three from Poland and one from Cameroon all on an Erasmus elective. I enjoyed their company a lot, they were kind and helpful.

My first 2 weeks at the hospital were in the ward, every morning the professors accompanied us to the inpatients and started explaining their condition, different possibilities for treatment and what we should focus on such cases. Some days our professors had some checkup visits for patients who were discharged from the hospital within the last few months. It was so informative to see such a huge number of patients in such a small time. The average number of patients we see daily was about five patients in the ward and maybe one or two for a checkup. The professors taught us a lot of things concerning Nephrology, how to take a history, how to examine patients, different kidney markers in lab tests and many things that I would list later.

(Left to right) with Professors at the Dialysis unit: Dr.Alice Mariotto, Dr.Giuseppe Sileno, Dr.Ettore Pasquinucci, & Dr.Alessandro Gaballo

My second 2 weeks were in the dialysis ward, every day the professors accompanied me for the round, we checked the patients performing their dialysis session concerning their compliance to medications, their overall health, if there is any pain, the patency of the vessels used in dialysis, their diet, and their last lab values. I noticed that dialysis session became a routine for these patients with little suffering, the hospital supplies them with the drugs and provide good, advanced and comprehensive health care services and ambulance help people with some health problems that where they provide transport for them to the hospital on the sessions days and bring them back home. I was amazed by the continuous assessment and care for the patient.

I attended some surgical procedures including:

  1. An arteriovenous fistula in the arm between the median cubital vein and brachial artery, it was done by Prof.Ciro Esposito and Prof.Massimo Torregiani.
  2. Central jugular catheterization is done by Prof.Massimo.
  3. Femoral venous catheterization is done by Prof.Massimo.
  4. Replacement of an obstructed femoral venous catheter done by Prof.Giuseppe Sileno.

I was honored to work and learn from these great professors, I owe them a lot, I will never forget what they have taught me.

Let’s talk about my daily routine there, I woke up at 5:30 every day, took a shower, brushed my teeth, drink my coffee and go out. After that, I’d spend about an hour commuting. I would arrive at 8 o’clock nearly, then I’d spend about four to five hours with the professors, after that, I’d go home to study or finish some of my work. Some days I would walk to explore the cities or visit historical places.

Visit to Como

On weekends I would travel. The first weekend I went to Como, it’s a small city with a lot of charming places and a wonderful lake. The second weekend I visited Venice, the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. I wish I could go there every year. The third weekend I visited Milano and the Duomo; Milano is a huge city with many people. I was enriched with a lot of personal benefits and experiences, starting from traveling to a European country by myself, searching for an apartment, washing my clothes, preparing my food and doing everything alone, I had the chance also to visit a lot of beautiful historical places and cities. Italy is a country of art, that’s what I liked the most about it. I managed to deal with a wide variety of different personalities including the pedestrians, colleagues, professors, officers at different means of transportation and the friends I could make in such a short time. It was a wonderful experience that changed me a lot and the way I think and sees the world and I will do my best to repeat it.

Visit to Venice

Visit to Milano: Duomo di Milano.

With my GEMx Award

GEMx and American University in Beirut Making Dreams Come True One Robot at a Time

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Blog By: Mostafa Sedky medical student from Ain Shams Univerity who has completed his elective at eye-caching American University in Beirut, Lebanon through GEMx

I went through an elective for one month at the eye-catching American University in Beirut. As it was one of my lifetime dreams to go there, GEMX provided great chance for me to apply for an elective and visit the place. Despite facing some difficulties to arrange for my travel, I used all my efforts and made it there. The amazing historical campus with the unique seafront view was fully equipped with a state-of-the-art entertainment, medical, surgical and educational equipment’s, which all added to the unforgettable learning experience.

One of my dreams that was also fulfilled was to learn more information about robotic surgery with the Da Vinci robot that was at the university and which is now the talk of the town in all the surgical fields. I had an opportunity to meet some kind and famous Lebanese professors and surgeons and learn from them about every single incision and suture while attending in the OR during my elective in the Department of General Surgery. I received a hands-on laparoscopy and suturing workshops on a simulator to add to the excitingly thrilling experience.

 

The administration has provided me with full access to the medical library which had a separate huge building with calm and encouraging weather and the latest medical news and information to indulge your knowledge with as well as a high-speed internet connection with subscriptions to open a lot of scientific databases and journals. I also had access to the student activity center which had a private beach, warm indoor swimming pool with an A/C surrounding as I was there during cold winter as well as an amazing Gym and an indoor basketball court. There were a lot of other courts like a stadium for football and tennis and volley courts but the basketball one was my favorite.

Regarding the exceedingly reputable and scrumptious Lebanese food, it was one of the best things in this country starting from the sizzling cheese of the street mankoosha to the mouth-watering ice cream of el Bachir, it was one of the best things in the country. When I wanted to be more healthy I resorted to the delicious Lebanese fruits especially apples which were unique than any other apples I have ever tried as well as the ambrosial honey from the cedars.

To add to the experience, l spent the weekends exploring this amazing country Lebanon from the far north in Tripoli visiting Faraya, Jetta, Junia, Byblos, Dora to Beirut then reaching to the south visiting EL Shouf, Beit el-Din, Deir El Kamar, Saida, Tyre to Baalbek. It was the first time in my life I built a snowman and went skiing then go to the beach on the same day. I spent some quality time talking to my new Lebanese friends and taking photos that make me perpetually happy whenever I remember them. It’s undeniable that this elective experience has called upon my untapped reservoir of tenacity, perseverance, fortitude, curiosity, and willingness to learn. It has opened the gates for me to believe more in my dreams and turned some of them into precious memories.

 

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

Filed under: GEMx Global Network 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.

Dermatology in the US

Filed under: GEMx Global Network 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.

Sharing Experiences That Changed My Life

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Ambassador Network GEMx Student Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team for outreach clinic with British nurses and Nepali doctor

 

CICoM

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Ambassador Network

Aarinola Blessing

Post by Aarinola Blessing an outgoing 2 year termed SAN from  Obafemi Awolowo University College of Health Sciences participating in CICoM (International Medical Knowledge Contest).

Introduction

On 10th Nov. 2016, I embarked on an amazing and rewarding journey to Mexico City alongside five other undergraduates of my University and the Dean of my Faculty( our GEMx Manager). The trip took a whole week. We had earlier been invited to participate in the 3rd International Context of Medical Knowledge(CICoM 2016) organized by Facultad de Medicina of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico that had representatives from over thirty Universities all over the world in attendance. Countries represented included Netherlands, Colombia, Chile, Nigeria, and Mexico, meaning we were the only African nation invited for this competition.

This blog post will address different aspects of my trip to Mexico.

Aarinola Blessing with her two colleagues

Being in Mexico for the first time

We were cheerfully received at the Benito Juarez Airport by Angelica Lopez who drove us to Brenda’s house. Brenda(the Co-ordinator) and her sister were so excited to meet us and made our first night in Mexico memorable. We met Pablo Perea the next day who happened to be our tour guide and also a GEMx Student Ambassador. Pablo was a very friendly, interesting and versatile person. He obviously knew a lot about the history of his Country, an attribute of his I particularly found worthy of emulation and which no doubt greatly facilitated his role as a student Ambassador. We felt so much at home being in the company of homely people. Mexicans say” Mi casa es su casa meaning “my home is your home”. The language, of course, was intriguing to me. I taught Pablo a little of my native language, Yoruba like ”Padi mi” meaning “my guy” which he calls me anytime we chat and he also taught me some Spanish of course like “Hola”,”Buenos” and “Bien”. The rest were written on my notepad for reference in case I needed to speak Spanish during the trip. I indeed struggled with the food in Mexico being considerably new to my taste and suffice to say that Mexicans are proud of their famous tacos and can talk you into eating different servings of it with them while they also constantly keep asking what you think about it. I did try some dishes like the Mexican rice, chicken, and chips because they weren’t entirely new as other dishes in their cuisines. We would joke with them that they had cheese in every food like eating cheese in cheese. The worth of commendation is that the Mexico flag was almost everywhere we went to.

Shrimp dish with cheese

The Cultural Exchange

The first two days were set aside for cultural exchange during which we visited the Teotihuacan, the Palace of Medicine, Palace of Arts, the Downtown and the Latin American Tower. We were grouped into different groups which also afforded us the opportunity to interact with other students during the tour with Pablo as the tour guide of my group. On the 3rd day, Justin Seeling and Anna Iacone were around to talk about GEMx and I was opportune to meet them. Pablo and Fuen also made their wonderful presentations that same day.

 

The Competition

The competition was no doubt eye-opening for me, the other students from my University and our Dean. Even though our aim to win wasn’t fulfilled but we were fulfilled having attended because we planned to win the contest. We were exposed to what investigations some countries consider as the first line and different guidelines employed in treating patients. I found the interaction and brainstorming in the same room with students from different countries fun. While interacting with Benjamin from Chile, I got to know that Chagas disease which I had only read in textbooks without a full grasp of it was endemic in his Country. He took time to expatiate the details of the disease. I also lectured him on Malaria and its complications which is no doubt the most endemic illness in Nigeria and most of the remaining countries in the tropics. Also, we participated in different workshops during our stay. I participated in the basic surgical workshop where I was taught basic surgical skills, the use of which I employed during my first basic surgical skills class when I was back in Nigeria and of course I was faster than some of my colleagues because I had done it before. On the last day of the competition, we were dressed in our native attires. Everyone was so excited to see us in our outfits, that we almost got tired of taking pictures at some point. We also had souvenirs from other countries like the Dutch candies from the Netherlands and the Colombia coffee. We were also taken on a tour around the University where there was a story to tell about how each building was built. The party held after the event was of course fun during which I learned to do the Salsa dance.  It was largely an exciting outing that leaves so much to be remembered about.

Everyone in their cultural attire.

Our Departure

My group in the company of guys from the Netherlands with Pablo as our guide visited the National History Museum, Chapultepec on our departure day.  We finally took off from Mexico to start our 23-hour long trip back to Nigeria on the 19th Nov 2016.

 Conclusion

Attending CICoM 2016 was a major milestone for me in different areas of life with so many lessons gleaned from it. For instance, in terms of the exposure, knowledge of medicine, life, relationship with people, getting things done even when they look challenging and sharpening my leadership and communication skills. I will always treasure every moment and every friendship made.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience!

 

 

The Beautiful Art that is Medicine

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Ambassador Network GEMx Student Reflections

Josefa Santa Maria

Post by Josefa Santa Maria, a student ambassador from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Escuela de Medicina who has completed an exchange at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana Facultad de Medicina.

My GEMx Ambassador Experience: Exchange in Medellin

During the period that I worked as an ambassador for GEMx, I had the opportunity to participate in many activities, from virtual meetings to lunch with the dean of the faculty. However, probably the one that I will remember the most will be my Emergency Medicine elective in Medellin, Colombia.

One of the reasons why I applied to be an Ambassador for GEMx, is that I consider the values in medical education as something that transcends the geographical barrier, and the exercise of this in other countries (even in another city) is an enriching experience both academically and humanly speaking.

My personal experience doing the elective of Emergency Medicine at the Pontificia Bolivarian University in Medellin, Colombia, is something that I will definitely turn into one of my most precious memory. It was a great challenge (and I have to admit that I was even a little scared) to leave my comfort zone and to do part of my internship in a foreign country: everything was different: the schedule, the food, the academic requirement, the way of teaching, the responsibilities with patients, the shifts, and even though the language was Spanish all the same there were local words and expressions that took me a long time to understand, but none of that was an obstacle to get to the hospital every day with a big smile and my maximum enthusiasm to learn.

Posing in front of buildings

One of the things that I liked the most was the warm reception I received from my intern colleagues, the doctors and especially the patients, who always asked me where I came from, and how did I feel living in Colombia, on many occasions I had very interesting conversations with them. They were always very happy and grateful for the attention I gave them, that was something that definitely left my heart full. In addition to having theoretical seminars every day and all the learning I got from each clinical case in the emergency service, my elective in Colombia allowed me to experience the diversity of the gastronomic culture of the area, to do tours around the city, in which I learned from the history and tradition of the neighborhoods of Medellin, and visit the nearby towns, where I  could enjoy wonderful landscapes.

Standing next to art mural

All in all, the 4 weeks I spent in Colombia helped me grow in different dimensions, both personally and academically. They helped me to be more independent, to improve my ability to adapt, to relate to different types of patients, and last but not least, to learn more about the beautiful art that is Medicine.

Overwhelmed by Good Hearts and Good People

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Ambassador Network GEMx Student Reflections Uncategorized

Post by Syafaf Humaira Binti Aman, global exchange student from Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who recently completed a GEMx Exchange at University of Sharjah in United Arab Emirates.

Who knew, a split-second decision of applying for GEMx Electives, and travelling alone to a country which was 5000km away from home would bring such an impact to my life – especially my medical student life. My name is Syafaf Humaira Aman and I am currently a final year medical student from Penang Medical College, Malaysia.

I’ve always known by my friends as a person who would leap into any great opportunities that comes and this was definitely one of those opportunities that I had decided to venture upon. Despite of that statement making me sound all very brave and courageous, there was still a hint of nervousness and anxiety when I got on the plane, heading to the UAE for my electives. This was the first time I solo-travelled, my first time going to a country that I am very unfamiliar with, and also my first time being a part of a new student community – alone.

Smiling young woman and young man by palm trees shops and restaurants

With Fuad, the student ambassador from University of Sharjah

All the worries and anxiousness slowly started to dissipate away when I was greeted by Fuad, the student ambassador from University of Sharjah (UoS) and his friend Dalia at the airport. Starting from the first meet up, up until the very last day of my stay in UoS, they had definitely helped me a lot – from helping me to settle down in my new dorm, helping the administrative officer to arrange my hospital posting, and introducing me to most of their friends so that I wouldn’t feel very lonely throughout my stay. I truly owe them a lot, as it was so much easier for me to blend in and get used to the new campus life with their help.

One thing I’ve learnt a lot from this experience is actually travelling alone isn’t as bad as I thought it would. It used to be a scary thought back then, but after this elective programme, I’ve came to learn that more opportunities tend to open up when you travel alone. When you’re all alone, you’ll be forced to get out of your comfort zone, and you’ll be ‘pushed’ to make a whole bunch of new friends. Without you even realizing, you’ll find yourself meeting new people, making connections with people that you’ve never intended to meet, and getting inspired by their life stories. This includes meeting a fellow Malaysian occupational therapist who had been working in the UAE for the past 8 years. It was amazing to get to hear her life experiences over there.

As for my clinical posting, I was being posted to Al-Baraha Hospital in Dubai under the Surgical Department. Truth to be told, it was definitely one of the best clinical experience I’ve ever went through my whole life as a medical student!

student posing with group of fellow students and instructors

With surgical team in Al Baraha Hospital, Dubai

The surgical team consisted of this set of surgeons of different nationalities, with years of experiences working at different regions of the world before. One thing I am truly awed was to see how dedicated these surgeons were, in both healing the patients and teaching the students. Despite their tight schedule during the OT days, they would still make time to teach us in the operation theatre, as well as in between the surgeries. Sometimes they would let us hang around at the surgeons’ lounge and they would share their experiences with us students too.

Instructing Surgeon and student in surgery

Me assisting in one of the surgeries done at the hospital while being assisted by the surgeon

During this posting too, I was fortunate enough to be given multiple chances to assist in several surgeries, guided by these aspiring surgeons. Even though the tasks that was given were pretty minor, but it was already more than I bargained for, and come to think of it, it was a fair start for me as a medical student. It was definitely a great exposure for me, one that I would never experience back home. I couldn’t help but to be thankful for these surgeons had never failed to make me feel as part as their team. At times, they would even introduce us students to the patients as the ‘training surgeons’ who had made them (the patients) feel better, and it was definitely one of the best feeling to hear the patients thanking you profusely for treating them. All in all, it was never a day that I wasn’t looking forward to step into the hospital as I knew I would be greeted by them with smiles and the day would then be occupied with bed side teachings, teachings at the outpatient department and multiple case discussions with the whole surgical team.

smiling students outside of hospital

With my groupmates after our daily clinical bedside teachings

My groupmates in Al-Baraha Hospital were truly amazing too. They were all very friendly and my four weeks at the hospital would have never been the same without them. In between the bedside teachings, or after we’ve all clerked patients, we would then be discussing the cases together, sometimes recalling what the surgeons have taught us by the end of each day. Sometimes these so called ‘hangout’ sessions would be filled with us sharing stories about each other’s families, travel stories, and favourite past times. One thing I find interesting in the UAE is that, all of the students there mostly originates from somewhere else outside of the UAE. Some of my groupmates for instance, were originally from Syria, Palestine, Turkey, Egypt and many more. Although they have stayed in the UAE for most of their live, they would still go back there once in a while and they would then share their stories and how their culture are back home. Not just that, they would also be the ones to prepare a long list for me consisting of interesting places I need to visit, and food that I need to try throughout my stay.

smiling girl by waterfront

Me at Madinat Jumeirah, with the Burj Al-Arab in the background

On the weekends, I would then take the opportunity to travel around Dubai, and explore the city as much as possible. The famous Burj Khalifa, Burj Al-Arab, the souqs and the beaches in Dubai were all truly breath-taking. I had even managed to make my way to Abu Dhabi on one of the long weekends during my stay in the UAE. Although it was pretty taxing to travel from UoS to Dubai, it was always be worth it. Taxing, because the transportations were pretty expensive, especially when you’re travelling alone, so sometimes I would need to opt for multiple forms of transportations in order to get to the places that I wanted to go. However, it definitely taught me the value of perseverance, independence and the importance of planning ahead of time.

All in all, not only I had gain ample amount of new knowledge within the medical field, but I had also obtained countless life lessons throughout this elective. It was a whole new level of experience which had definitely built my confidence and I hope that I could emulate all of these invaluable lessons throughout my life as a person, and a medical doctor in the future. I would like to extend my gratitude to GEMx for this once in a lifetime experience, and for encouraging me to step away from my comfort zone, and experience all of this. Not to forget Dr Nabil Sulaiman and Dr Osama Seif for being my supervisors over at University of Sharjah and Hospital Al-Baraha.

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