Skip to Content
GEMx

GEMx Blog

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”.

 

Njera, castles, and compassion: just three of the wonderful things I experienced at Mekelle University

Filed under: GEMx Regional Exchanges GEMx Student Reflections

By: DAPHNE KIBANDA , 5TH YEAR STUDENT (MBChB) at MBARARA UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Day out at Emperor Yohannes’ castle with Kidus(L) myself(C) and Henry(R)
The thought of an exchange study program away from my home university and country was as excitingas it was scary. With the GEMx website and with help from Ms. Faith Nawagi, the GEMx Africa representative, the application process went smoother than I expected. Within less than a month, my colleague and I were ready to travel to Mekelle University, College of Health Sciences, in Ethiopia. Ms. Sheila and Ms. Angela Nakato from the International Relations Office were also key in our travel preparations.

At about 5 a.m. on Saturday 13th July, we landed in Addis Ababa. Our flight to Mekelle was at 7.15a.m so we had some time to lounge. This was both our first time in Ethiopia and at Bole International Airport and so locating the different terminals took some bit of time. It can’t go without mention that every single person we interacted with at the airport, both passengers and employees, was very welcoming and helpful. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed for over 3 hours due to unfavourable weather at our destination and since we had no way of communicating with our hosts yet, we missed our transport from the airport. Nevertheless, we were very well received into Mekelle by the staff, students and even the locals.

With some of the C11 class members after a management session.

We joined the C11 group on the Internal medicine rotation as soon as we arrived and made very many friends. The students always readily helped with translation during clerkships as we were not conversant with the local language. I particularly remember an incident where I went to the ward to clerk a patient and all the members of my group were not around. I walked through the ward looking for a familiar face in vain. Later, I met a student from another group and when I explained myself to her, she was more than willing to help. They made the environment very comfortable and conducive for the one month we spent with them. Every day on the ward at Ayder Comprehensive Specialised Hospital was a new learning experience. Although the prevalent conditions didn’t differ much from those in Uganda, we were able to compare National treatment guidelines for common communicable conditions in both countries. We also participated in ward rounds, bedside teachings, and management sessions and were able to share and expand our knowledge further.

Outside of class, we appreciated the diverse culture of the people in Mekelle. We learned several words and phrases in Tigrinya, the native language, and by the end of one week, “Selam” which is a word for “hello” came much more easily to me. They have a unique taste in food, and I fell in love with “Njera”.

Njera and stew
I could not go an entire day without this traditional dish and to date, Ethiopian food is one of my favourites and Ethiopian restaurants in Uganda are a go-to. We also witnessed a traditional Ethiopian wedding and I must say the African culture is rich and full of diversity. We managed to visit Emperor Yohannes’ castle in Mekelle city, which serves as a museum currently and had some of our new friends show us around the rest of the city.

Our stay in Mekelle came to an end after exactly 4 weeks and on 9th August, we had to travel back home. We said a couple of emotional and even tearful goodbyes and promised to keep in touch with our friends. It was an educative, humbling, inspirational and fun experience for me, and I look forward to more of these opportunities with GEMx. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity.

Copyright © 2013-2021 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. All rights reserved.
Terms | Privacy