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My Elective Experiences in the United States: NYC and Miami

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Smiling student in tropical setting

Post by Abhinaya Sridhar, global exchange student from Kasturba Medical College – Mangalore (India) who completed two summer electives this past year in the United States including a GEMx Exchange at PAGNY in New York City.

Where do I begin? How do I begin describing the most interesting months of my life?

I am a medical student from India and have grown up here my entire life. Having said that, this wasn’t my first trip to the United States. I have been on multiple vacations and even traveled once when I was in high school for a Global young leader’s conference. There is only 1 word that aptly describes what I feel every time I step foot into this country – liberation. I see in front of me, not only what I already have, but, what life could be. I see endless opportunities, ambition, drive and heartfelt dreams – all becoming reality.

My first month was in THE BIG APPLE – the centre of diversity, culture and constant movement. New York made me feel at peace, at home.  I did an elective with PAGNY – affiliated with Gemx. I shadowed under multiple doctors in their private practice setting and it was such an eye opening experience. All the doctors were such good physicians and even better leaders and educators. It was a holistic experience – patient care, patient interaction, interacting with the staff and the nurses- it was truly an honour. I was integrated into the entire decision making process with the patient and given the opportunity to voice my thoughts and opinions in terms of patient care. The private practice clinics were all over new York and it gave me an opportunity to truly see the city, ride the subway and well – be a New Yorker, if I may say so.

three smiling young people on a beach with a carnival prize

GEMx PAGNY visits Coney Island: Abdudallah, Myself and Mercedes with a new “friend”

There were 3 of us in the program and I couldn’t have asked for better colleagues. It felt like we had known each other all along. Needless to say, it wasn’t all work and no play. We did visit Coney Island , walked along the boardwalk , ride the crazy rides and ate at Nathans!!! It was truly a memorable day. We even took the bus down to Philadelphia to meet with the GEMx team. We were in there for hardly a day , but we did manage to see the liberty bell!! The GEMx team was very welcoming and we had a sit in with their administration to speak about the PAGNY experience. It was an endless sea of opportunity and information for all of us.

Three smiling students in front of historic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia USA

Mercedes, Myself and Abdullah visit the Liberty Bell after meeting GEMx and ECFMG Leadership in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Well, before I knew it, it was time for the next elective in – yes!! The tourist and party central of Florida – Miami!!!! If there is anything at all that I’d say to someone travelling to Miami- KNOW YOUR SPANISH. Despite this “tiny” language barrier I was facing, Miami was an adventure in itself. I did my elective rotations in cardiology and radiology with Florida International University. Radiology had always been my Achilles tendon and I wanted to try something challenging and it was so worth it. My radiology elective preceptor was an excellent teacher and I learnt more about radiology that I had tried learning in my 5 years if medical school. I even assisted in bone marrow biopsies, ascitic taps and pleural taps. Learning and being in a hospital setting was definitely a very different experience from the one in New York. The interaction was expanded and spread across so many different specialties, doctors and residents. It was definitely quite challenging- dealing with Spanish and the multitude of doctors and students. And, of course, it wasn’t long before disaster struck.

Yes, actual natural disaster in the form of IRMA. The first category  5 hurricane that Miami was seeing after ANDREW . IRMA was all that anyone could talk about. People were driving out, stocking up, hurricane proofing their houses and  with everyone scrambling to find their safe haven , I naturally tried to the same. I ended up staying with a family friend , who, thank heavens, lived in Miami. We all decided to ride the storm out together. Never before had I experienced a hurricane, let alone, in a city completely alien to me and with people I had known for less than a month.

But, all’s well that ends well and that’s how IRMA left Miami. I feel like I saw the city at its best, post Irma – they recovered so quickly and things were running like clockwork in a matter of a few days.

Ocean Tropical view

In Miami, Florida

There were times I missed New York – its energy, its culture, the vegan food and beautiful buildings. But I grew to enjoy Miami, for the beauty it had to offer. I did visit the Florida Keys before Irma hit and it was mesmerizing. The drive from Miami to the Keys was a thing of beauty.

Academically, it was truly enriching and inspiring. Every person I met had a story, a dream and aspired to be someone someday. Looking back, their experiences and stories have given me the strength and belief that I will make it too.

Inspired By Life- Elective experience in Manipal, India

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

student standing by Kasturba Medical College Manipal sign

Post by Yik Chin Low, GEMx global exchange student (and GEMx student ambassador!) from Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who recently completed her GEMx Exchange at Kasturba Medical College – Manipal in India.

I always want an opportunity to learn medical in India as I have lot of friends sharing their experience there with me and I found it could be challenging to me. Thus, I applied to do my elective in Kasturba Medical College in India under Gemx as it is well known as top 10 medical school in India over years.

When I first arrived, I met a lot of Malaysian as well. They were curious on my choice to do my elective here rather than other developed countries but I believe that India as an underdeveloped country is the place where you can experience different healthcare system that could not be obtained in the home medical school and it’s teaching hospital. Thus, I want to use this opportunity to attain experience in the management of uncommon diseases.

exchange student surrounded by host school students

In the ward with KMC-Manipal students

I am honored to be guided by Professor Rama Bhat. He taught me a lot during the ward rounds as well as in the clinic session. However, language is always a barrier to me and I am lucky enough to have the final year students who are willing to translate for me. I realize how common TB case in India and it becomes  a taboo for them to even mention it and they called it Koch’ disease instead, same goes to leprosy and they only mention Hansen disease.

student standing next to her faculty supervisor

In the ward with my supervisor, Professor Rama Bhat

I have seen so many different cases that I never see in Malaysia and most of the patients presented to the hospital only when the symptoms get severe.  I remember how surprise I was to see a really bad case of Rhematoid Arthritis with severe deformities of both upper and lower limb and the chik’s sign on Chikukunya patient that I never even heard of the name. Through the ward rounds, I was able to join the discussion on different cases presented . The students here are genuinely smart and taught me a lot as well. They are so friendly that they always helped to translate the language when I have difficulty understand the patients.

Most of the patient here are of low socioeconomic and some of them don’t even have money to pay for the big sum of medical expenses. It is heartbreaking to see the family members lying all around the floor besides the bed while taking care of their family.

I also learn how important of the ethical and professionalism and come to realize how patients are reliable on the doctors’ judgement that they put their life on your hand.

The culture in India is another thing that Iearn. For instance, there is no secret in neighbourhood in India, and news spread real fast. Also, when any car accidents happen, there will always be a big crowds on either side of the party even though none of them are related to the accident or the person involved. However, the good thing is whenever things happen, there are  always someone there to lend you a hand.

Indian food selections

Indian food selections

I first came here with fear of hygience of the food here but after a week I fell in love with different types of Indian food here.

Furthermore, the visit to the museum of anatomy in KMC had indeed open my eyes and I can never find any more awesome museum that this one. It is really astonishing to actually witness with your eyes how the tumour cell can invade the body cell and the changes seen on the organ itself with your own eyes.

I also get an opportunity to travel around Mangalore. The beach in St Mary Island  is breathtaking and I like how spontaneous the people here. They literally just dance on the boat while the music is on. It is pretty amusing.

girl on beach

My weekend trip to St. Mary Island

I learn to self- improve on my inadequacy and work hard on my dream to be a great doctor because in the end, what you learn today might save a patient life another day.

Thanks so much to GEMx, I have this wonderful experience and It definitely going to help me a lot in my future. I have seen the medical care system in Ireland, Malaysia and India and it definitely give me a better understanding and I learn to appreciate what we have and know what to improve on.

When the Doctor Doesn’t Speak the Language

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

Check out this essay on language and medicine by one of our student ambassadors who recently finished his GEMx elective exchange at University of Pavia, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. He was helped with his italiano under the guidance  from fellow GEMx student ambassador, Cristiana Riboni while in Pavia. 

student in front of a mountains and large body of water

Ahmed Saleh in Italy

Post by Ahmed M. Saleh, MD Candidate ‘18, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar

Realizing that this is not going to be as easy as I thought was one thing I knew the moment I stepped on Italian soil. I arrived at Milano Centrale in Italy, the city’s main transit hub, trying to figure out the best way to get to my destination, Pavia, a smaller city 50 kilometers south of Milan. Usually it takes about 20-30 minutes by train to get to Pavia’s main station, but it took me 2 hours, after getting off at the wrong station and having to come back again to Milan and switch trains a couple of times. Clearly, I didn’t do so well communicating or trying to follow instructions.

interior of a busy train station

Milano Centrale

A couple of days later, I woke up early and found my way to Maugeri Fondazione’s hospital on the edge of Pavia. I walked around the hospital’s corridors trying to find the nephrology ward until I was directed to the doctors’ room. It felt like a regular first day at the hospital of a medical student’s life. Just the usual feelings of uncertainty and being lost. Doctors and nurses spoke enough English for me to follow what was going on, but I realized the day isn’t that typical once we started rounding and talking to patients.

Before my time in Pavia, I never had issues communicating with patients as I’d either speak their language, or I had access to instant interpretation services over the phone through the hospitals where I rotated, which made obtaining history, performing physical exam maneuvers, and explaining the diagnosis and treatment plan to patients less complicated. However, my rotation in Italy made me realize how challenging it could be to provide quality and safe health care services to patients when you do not speak their language.

busy street scene with pedestrians and shops

A typical day in Pavia

My abroad exchange experience in Pavia has helped me gain a different perspective on what works well and what does not when practicing medicine if you don’t speak the same language as your patients. I remember spending a lot of time discussing the importance of communication in healthcare during my Medicine, Patients, and Society course; whether its communication among physicians and healthcare workers or between healthcare workers and patients and their family members.

While I was doing an inpatient rotation, where all patients were already triaged and transferred to our service in a relatively stable condition from the emergency room. I thought about how the process of seeing a patient in the emergency room might be different. Take a patient who walks in pointing at his/her chest and is in discomfort, but does not speak the same language as you, the healthcare provider. Without language coherence, is it left sided or right sided pain? When did it start and what’s the character of their pain? Are there any associated symptoms? These are all vital questions that direct the doctor’s time-sensitive management plan, thus, pose a significant challenge.

It is often said that physical exams and diagnostic workups are of no use in the absence of a focused, accurate history. Medical school has provided us with ample opportunities to work with diverse populations and be culturally competent in theory, however, applying such skills isn’t always as easy as it might sound like. My Pavia experience has provided me with a few tips that could be of use in such situations.

It is always useful it is to learn some key phrases and medical terms in a different language. It might not be feasible to learn a whole new language or be able to carry a conversation, but learning some basic terms to help you communicate with your patients to obtain history and perform a quick physical exam is optimal. Learning some phrases such as “take a deep breath”, “stop breathing”, “lie down”, and “look left or right” were all advantageous, and made performing a physical exam less challenging.  Additionally, it is important to speak slowly and calmly, even when someone is interpreting.

It is also important to be familiarized with some basic cultural beliefs and practices. In my case, knowing that it is inappropriate to greet people using “Ciao”, and needing to use “Bonjourno” and “Arrivederci” instead was vital. Additionally, the importance of body language and eye contact is one thing a provider should pay attention to, which are things I seldom paid attention to in the past and focused more on verbal communication as my main way of delivering information. Using hand gestures to supplement or replace words might be another way to get the conversation going. Using visual aids could be another way to deliver your message across. Keeping charts and pictures of the human body and the most commonly performed procedures is always useful, especially when treating children.

four smiling students enjoying gelato

From Left, Cristiana, Ahmed , Cristiana’s sister and her best friend enjoying gelato

These tips are definitely not the solution to eliminate any confusion or uncertainty that might arise, but keeping these in mind helps. My time in Pavia was definitely an eye opener and I started considering communication issues on a deeper level and how it affects the doctor-patient relationship. Medicine is all about making sure that patients are getting the best of care with no barriers, and language barriers should not be taken lightly.

a gelato cone held forward while walking down a street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

smiling student

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

view from plane during flight to the US

En route to the United States!

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

group of five women in hospital scrubs

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

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

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

two smiling medical students

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

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

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

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

Two girls in white coats smiling

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

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

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

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

Student Exchange From MOSC Medical College (India) to Penang Medical College (Malaysia) by Prannoy Paul

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Prannoy Paul, Medical Student at Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College (India) who completed a GEMx Elective at Penang Medical College (Malaysia)

Our institution, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Medical College, Kolenchery, Kerala, India, has always encouraged students to get more exposure in medicine by attending various medical competitions and medical student conferences happening around the world. It was in December 2016, that the GEMx coordinator of our institution, Dr. Anna Mathew informed me that I and my friend Kiron are selected for the GEMx student elective for the year of 2017 from our institution. I was really excited hearing the news, but I was also uncertain about how it is going to be or where should I be going.

Photo of MOSC Students at Airport

At the airport

While we were discussing about which institution to apply for the elective, it so happened that the GEMx representative from USA, Mr. Justin Seeling visited our institution for the promotion of GEMx. We had an opportunity to talk with him and he recommended that Penang medical College, Malaysia would be a good choice for us. So we contacted Penang Medical college, sent all the documents required and we got approved for the elective in the department of Surgery for the month of May, 2017.

Photo of Penang Medical College Taken by MOSC Students

Penang Medical College (PMC) is a private, Malaysian campus owned by two world-renowned medical universities in Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the University
College Dublin (UCD). PMC is affiliated to the Penang General Hospital, also known as Hospital Pulau Pinang, which is very near the medical college campus. Being the largest public hospital in Penang with 1090 beds, Penang general hospital is always busy with patients.

Photo of MOSC Students with Professors of Surgery and Medicine

With Professors of Surgery and Medicine

On our first day at PMC, we were introduced to Penang Medical College and Penang General Hospital by the administrative officer at PMC, Ms. Masitah Sihabudeen and we got an orientation session about the college. Our supervisor for the elective was Dr. Premnath, the head of Department for Surgery at PMC. We were grouped along with the final year students there at PMC.

Photo of MOSC Students with With Surgery Unit C2 at Penang Medical College

With Surgery Unit C2

In the mornings, we had to go to the wards to clerk the patients and take cases. Patients spoke mainly Malay, Chinese and English. For the patients who spoke Malay and Chinese, we were provided with translators to help with our communication. The students there were also very helpful in our communication with the patients. I was able to see and understand many diseases that are not very common here. We discussed often about the variety of diseases and surgical conditions that present to the hospital, and how it was different in India.

In the afternoons, we had various sessions like seminars, tutorials, case presentations etc. Professors and students ensured that I actively participate in those sessions and asked me to explain how various procedures were done in my country and how it was different from that being done in Malaysia. Those sessions were filled with lots of fun along with gaining new knowledge .Our classes in the mornings would begin as early as 7 am on some days and the afternoon classes typically lasts till 5pm. Saturdays and Sundays were holidays. Apart from that, there are also many local holidays every month in Penang due to the rich cultural heritage of the city. Throughout the elective, our supervisors and student representatives were always in touch with us to know if they can help us with anything.

Photo of MOSC Students with the GEMx Student Ambassadors at Penang Medical College

With GEMx Student Ambassadors of PMC

The GEMx student ambassadors at PMC were Syafaf Humaira Aman and Yik Chin Low. They were very helpful to us throughout our stay in Penang. They helped us with our academic doubts, took us to the major tourist destinations and also helped us try out some local cuisine in Malaysia.

Malaysia is a favorite tourist destination for tourists all over the world. On holidays, we were able to visit some of the major tourist destinations in Penang. Our friends at PMC and even the professors suggested good places to visit for the holidays. Penang is also very famous for the food. It is called the food heaven of Malaysia. The varieties of foods include Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Penang is also very famous for its very delicious but cheap street food which is a very important attraction for the tourists visiting Penang.

Photo of Transportation in Malaysia

The population in Malaysia is mainly Malay, with others being Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians, and other indigenous people. Islam is the state religion while many other religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity are also common. Languages spoken include Malay, which is the official language, English, and Tamil.

As most people, especially the younger generation spoke English very well, communication was not a problem for us while in Malaysia. People were very friendly and helpful. If we asked someone for the way to a place, they would eagerly tell us in detail. The hospitality of the Malaysian people made our stay, a very comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Photo of Malaysian Cuisine

Char Keoy Teow

The elective to Penang Medical College in Malaysia was a wonderful experience for me. It helped me understand how the health systems and medical education work in Malaysia and  how to interact with patients, medical students, and professors from another country. I also learned and understood the differences in medical conditions and health care in another country and achieved a broader, a global perspective in medicine. I recommend more students make use of the fantastic student exchange program provided by GEMx, it is very easy to apply to, and we are supervised in each step of the elective. The elective improves our academic knowledge, our communication skills, confidence, and our very perspective about medicine and about the world.

GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Exchange from Penang Medical College, Malaysia to University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Thaneswaran Jeyakrishnan, Medical Student at Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who completed a GEMx Elective at Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia)

Student Exchange from Penang Medical College, Malaysia to University of Gadjah Mada, Indonesia
I have now completed an elective course of 4 weeks in a tertiary hospital named RS Dr. Sardijito in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The course comprises of 2 weeks of being in surgical rotation and 2 weeks in Orthopedics. I have chosen this place via the GEMx School Partnership program that was offered in my home institution (Penang Medical College, Georgetown, Malaysia). After being selected by my institution I was offered a range of options to carry out electives, all of which were listed in the website in terms of the GEMx Partner Schools and the courses they offered. I chose Indonesia mainly because of its expanding expertise in medicine and surgery in the expense of a low-resource setting especially with the burden from the rural areas and the ever growing population. RS Sardijito is a university hospital, attached to a reputable Indonesian public university called University of Gajah Mada. My time was entirely spent in the hospital and I was able to use the university facilities such as the library which was situated in close proximity to the hospital.

Thaneswaran Jeyakrishnan
Initially before embarking the elective, I was brought on an orientation to visit the facilities in Sardijito Hospital. The students from the university there was very welcoming regarding my visit. On the first day of my rotation, I introduced myself to the supervisor whom was the person-in-charge for me and he gave me a brief outline of the possible activities that I could benefit during the rotation. I was then placed in a group of residents who are doing their postgraduate course and for most of the times I was in this team of doctors whom I have been tagging along. The beautiful aspect of work in this hospital is that everything that is done here was more of team-work whereby the residents would help each other out and together they divide their tasks besides updating each other about their patients’ condition. I find this method very efficacious not only theoretically in preventing overworked atmosphere but it is healthy in many ways in maintaining the best patient care. Moreover, the residents working as a team teach and guide each other at all times. My routine usually starts as early as 6 am when the residents would do their patient-visiting and review their cases. At around 7.30 am in the morning report presentation would take place where the residents would present their cases in PowerPoint slides to the panel of specialists and consultants. There would be exchange of questions and queries which were all beneficial in the point of view of learning. I learned about the importance of a good presentation skill which comes with practice. I understand that only through discussion and reflection that one would be a better doctor. After this, I would usually go to either the operating theater or the outpatient clinic.

Thaneswaran Jeyakrishnan photo 2
The residents here in Indonesia have all been so welcoming, friendly and helpful. Something to be highlighted here is the way they handle patients- besides being friendly and caring, they show enormous amount of empathy towards their patients via body language, verbal and actions all of which are explicitly patient-centered. Perhaps it is the culture of politeness here that has shaped these doctors to be very empathic but I can assure that these values came-forward so often here not only in just the patient-doctor setting but even in my everyday lives in Indonesia. Since my stay here I realize that the locals are very helpful and friendly in which there were many situations when the locals tend to offer helping hands even though if you don’t ask for one. There are lots of ‘sorry’ and ‘thank yous’ going around in their own way of language expressions and sign. I believe that these are something that should be modelled everywhere else too. In terms of the patient care, the social aspects are always taken into serious consideration especially in terms of patient’s access and transport to hospital, finance and support from the family. Whilst this is how it should be anywhere globally, nevertheless there are many circumstances when doctors somehow omit these aspects of care when there is overcrowding and overwhelming stress especially in developing countries with low-resource settings. This is one of my salient learning point during my elective course in Indonesia which is to pay attention on how patient is going to recover in a long-term. During the course here, the senior residents here were very encouraging and they have provided adequate guidance for me.

 

 

GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Exchange from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia to University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Navilah Hidayati, Medical Student at Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia) who completed a GEMx Elective in Elective in General Surgery at the University of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates)

Navilah Hidayati, Medical Student at Universitas Gadjah Mada
What have you gained from this exchange experience offered through GEMx?  What were the benefits?

I gained many unforgettable experiences, global connections, and lovely friends from this exchange experience. I met a lot of people in the hospital and learn about the international hospital dynamic there. I observed the medical students activity in the University and learn some good habits they have. I visited the beautiful tourism in Dubai and Sharjah. I tasted the traditional food, which has a very unique and strong flavor. I also had the chance to learn some Arabic language and enjoy their culture.

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

To be honest, I was not sure that I will be able to go for this exchange. I had some trouble with my post-acceptance documents. The problem became more complicated because I couldn’t contact the representative in the host university.

Fortunately, GEMx staffs also helped me to get in touch with her. About 2 weeks before my departure I received my acceptance letter. Ten days later, they sent me my visa. My parent bought my airplane ticket two days before the elective started and I was able to go to Sharjah to do my elective training. Only when I sat in the airplane that I thought,

“Ah, so I am going to do this..”

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)

Truthfully, I didn’t get many chances to improve my clinical skills in my host university. I had some trouble with the placement in the university hospital. I was glad that my supervisor, Ms. Eman and Prof. Nabil, take care of the problems quickly and I can start my elective training on the second week. I had one week in Pediatric, one week in Internal Medicine, and one week in Surgery. This actually different from what was written in my acceptance letter. I supposed to go to the General Surgery department for four weeks. I need to adapt every week in the different department. I also went to two different hospitals that have different regulations. Because of it, I barely had the chance to perform clinical skills on patients. But thankfully, the doctors were so active and always told me about the patient conditions. They also like to discussed some cases, which enhanced my clinical reasoning skills. The patients in the hospital was mostly Arabic, so sometimes I had trouble communication because I didn’t understand their language. When I faced this problem, my friends and the doctors helped me out. The staff in the hospital also very kind to me. Most of the nurses came from outside the UAE so they understand English. We sometimes had a chat on break time.

Apart from that, I had a beautiful experience with the University of Sharjah, the people living in the UAE, and their genuine Arabic culture.

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

The first thing that came to my mind was I cannot believe it is already over. Everything ends so quickly. On my last day in Sharjah I had a very busy schedule. I need to take care of documents before leaving for my home town. Time flew so fast I didn’t realize it was already evening and I had to say good bye quickly to my dorm-mate.

The next day, I arrived in Indonesia. I had a short five days break before come back to my home school and do my clinical rotation. It felt so weird that time. It  seemed like my heart is left in my host school.

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?

This experience is one of the most unexpected experiences I have ever had. I didn’t have the chance to see a lot of procedure that I think I will, but to tell the truth I gained so much more than that. I learn to deal with people (the patient, the hospital and university staff, my colleague). I learn to adapt with any given situation. I learn to understand every perspective. I learn to solve my problem independently. I learn to be brave, honest, patient, and wise. When I came back to Indonesia a lot of people said that it such a pity that the elective didn’t go as I expected it to be, but I don’t think so.

I am happy with my experience and it teaches me beyond the procedural thing. (more…)

GEMx Elective Reflections – Student Exchange from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (Mexico) to American University of Beirut (Lebanon)

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Latife Salame Khouri, Medical Student at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (Mexico) who completed a GEMx Elective in Family Medicine at American University of Beirut (Lebanon)

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

The benefits are both academic and personal. I gained a broader view of how Medicine can be practiced. I gained responsibility and maturity for living alone for a month in a different country than mine. I gained contacts in Medicine and friends for life. GEMx gave me the opportunity to be part of one of the best Medicine Schools in the Middle East.

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

I prepared through life for my elective exchange. I didn’t get through a special preparation for it. Before my elective I already knew the languages I needed to go to the country I chose. I went to a multicultural school so I was used to be immersed in a culture different than mine. Academically, I felt that I was well prepared to learn and work in my elective.

What did you learn from this experience both personally and professionally? 

GEMx is a great opportunity to know how Medicine is done in countries with different cultures. I am from Mexico and I did the exchange in Lebanon. I practiced Medicine in arabic and english which was a great intellectual exercise. I learned a different anthropological approach to diseases. I learned to live in a city different than mine. I also met a type of public health system and I was able to compare between Mexico’s and Lebanon’s system.

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

I felt satisfied because I represented well my home school in another country. I realised that my home school gave me the tools to practice good Medicine all around the world. I felt happy because I met great people in AUB and I kept in touch with them. I was very proud of my home school for being part of this project.

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

My elective was in the department of Family Medicine of AUB. Lebanon and Mexico are similar in the lack of a strong primary care system, but the department of Family Medicine of AUB actually does a great job in primary care. I learned from my elective exchange that good primary care is possible in the health system of my country and I hope to make a difference there.

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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.

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Elective experience in the Incredible India

Filed under: GEMx Global Network GEMx Student Reflections

Post by Faizah Ramle, Medical Student from Penang Medical College (Malaysia) who completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Kasturba Medical College Manipal (India)

Dates of exchange – November 7, 2016 to December 7, 2016

Faizah Ramle, Medical Student from Penang Medical College

I had the privilege to conduct my elective posting for 4 weeks in Manipal, Karnataka, India. As a country that has established one of the world’s earliest civilization, India has presented me with nothing short of what I had expected. Colorful, loud, and vibrant- the whole nation has an energy like no other.

I was honored to be guided by Professor Manjunatha Hande, the head of department of Internal Medicine in Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal. Under his guidance, I had been able to join ward rounds, clinics and also bed side teachings with the final year medical  students of KMC.  I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to get to know local patients better, learn about medical conditions that I would have never seen back home in Malaysia, and indulge in the local learning environment in India.

Faizah Ramle completed a GEMx Elective in Internal Medicine at Kasturba Medical College Manipal

Throughout my learning expedition in India, I was surrounded with a group of incredibly smart, confident and well-read students. They are cultivated to memorize and be hard-working from a very tender age. Being the second most populous country in the world, medicine is one of the most competitive and expensive field to get yourself into, and students there take it as no joke.

Being surrounded in a mentally challenging environment can be good. For one,  it pushes you to step up your game to live up to their standards. You too have to be as confident and out spoken as the local students are. However, at times this can also be rather draining. More often than not, I felt very inferior to my peers. Being  2000 miles away  from home doesn’t help either; you don’t exactly have your family and support system with you.

learning expedition in India
But I realized that this is how it meant to feel like when you stepped out of your comfort zone. In situations like this, you have no other choice but to stand on your own two feet. Personal growth happens when you are put in situations that gives you an opportunity to grow and mature. A higher benchmark prevents you from becoming complacent with what you have, hence drives you to be better. Once I accepted my weakness, I managed to learn a lot by asking questions and opening up more. This bunch of smart people shouldn’t make me feel small and disheartened, they act as a booster, and offered me an opportunity to learn.

Challenges do not confide themselves within the four walls of the hospital.

No matter where you are in the world, another existential problem would be the language barrier. Either it is because of the disparity in education level, or in this case-  you’re  in  a  country  with  a  completely  different  set  of  vocabulary  and accent. Although discussions and teachings are conducted in English, it wasn’t until the second week of the elective posting that I was able to comprehend what was being uttered and became comfortable to participate in the discussions.

In the hospital, everyone will remain professional and I was quite happy with the hospitality I received.  However, do understand that there will be miscommunications  and  frustrating  moments  in  dealing  with  admins.  There  is still no clear policy being made to manage and guide the international students, and you have to be quick on your feet to solve issues that arise. Expect problems to be on a national scale even. I was unlucky enough to experience the government abolishing certain Indian rupees overnight to overcome the “black money” issue in the country. Despite saying all this, dealing with these problems was what brought me to experience the true Indian culture.

Manipal, India
All in all, India has opened my eyes to remind me how blessed I am to be able to study medicine in Ireland and Malaysia. Medicine is neither a race, nor a competition to see who the best is. I am fortunate to be surrounded in a supportive and healthy community, that fits to the way I embrace medicine. Here the systems enrich us to develop holistically, to understand, rather than to memorize and mug up for the sake of exams. My experience in India has taught me to value what I have back home, and be thankful with the blessings in this country.

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