Visiting Student Reflections

Amrutha Denduluri

Osmania Medical College, India
Advanced Pediatric Critical Care
January, 2019

Being a medical student in a government hospital setting in India, my mindset towards medicine is completely different from that of a student who is training in the USA. My goal was to understand the differences and adapt some qualities that could improve my professional and personal standards towards patient care through this elective. It was an amazing program as I interacted with inspiring people every day. My residents and fellows made me feel included almost instantly.

I took care of a few patients every week . My job included taking patient histories, counseling the parents, discussing objectives and goals for treatment with the entire team, presenting the case summaries during rounds and updating patient charts with new tailored recommendations for each child. The PICU teams focused on all the aspects of patient health like nutrition, quality of life and mental health before making decisions. The daily rounds involved a team of super-specialists, ICU attending physicians, fellows, residents, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, parents and medical students.

I learned a lot from my advisors Dr Marianne Nellis and Dr Bruce Greenwald. They were kind and very passionate about bedside teaching . During the month, I’ve learnt how to deal with anxious families in vulnerable situations and how to make them feel safe by addressing all their concerns. This gave me a chance to think about the kind of physician I want to be in the future. The four weeks were both satisfying and educational. Taking care of kids with different medical conditions was challenging. I understood that babies need time to heal and we need to be patient and monitor them closely and also be able to make quick decisions in acute settings when necessary. Everyone in my team valued each other’s opinions, valued teamwork, took a multidisciplinary patient centric approach to care for each sick baby.  

As it was an ICU, there was a lot of scope to read, learn and understand basic guidelines and latest literature for treating common emergent conditions. I saw a wide range of complicated cases like raised intracranial pressure, Tetralogy of fallot, achondroplasia, poisoning and drug overdose, respiratory Insufficiency, Down syndrome, sepsis etc. I had a chance to see some rare genetic diseases and congenital abnormalities like Aicardi syndrome, Lysosomal storage diseases, mismatch repair gene disorders as well. I also attended research journal clubs, daily lecture series, mortality conferences, grand rounds and many educational didactic sessions throughout the month and was allowed to perform procedures on the patients as needed . In conclusion, this was a very meaningful experience for me and I made some really great friends during this period. I am truly grateful to Dianne Young, Nicole Jordan and Dr Finkel for giving me this wonderful and extraordinary opportunity.

Tara Rajendran

Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, Manipal University, India
Malignant Hematology
October, 2018

"The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" - the riveting book which won the Pulitzer in 2011, written by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, and the explicit memory of my grandmother dying in front of 4-year-old self with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia played pivotal roles in streamlining my focus to Hematology-Oncology while in medical school. As a medical student, I pursued Clinical Oncology research quite early in my career. My rotation in the leukemia subspecialty at Cornell under Dr. Ellen Ritchie, one of the leading Oncologists in the world, shaped my passion towards the hematological malignancies with regard to both clinics and research. I couldn't have asked for more- from the exceptional lectures at Sloan-Kettering at 7am, rounding with Dr. Lee, discussions of cases and current researches with fellows, lunch conferences that discussed the challenging cases and afternoons spent in the clinics swamped with cases.


The attendings, physician assistants and pharmacists never tired of answering my never-ending list of questions. I connected well with patients both emotionally and clinically. In the same room, one patient would be proclaimed to be in complete remission, and in other cases “one month more.  An extensive array of emotions in a single room. Dr. Ritchie told me once By now, Tara will see that I am an oncologist and a psychiatrist at the same time.

An inspiring account on a clinical encounter: The vivid eyes of the mandarin-speaking Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia patient who was about my mothers age, greeted me every morning when I went to follow up on her. While leaving the room - I smiled and waved. She waived back gently - Doctor, you come so early in the morning to see me and …… are very good. I felt so blessed. I also am grateful to be selected to represent and speak about my country at the international student reception. The unparalleled and phenomenal clinical hands-on experience I acquired from the Weill Cornell Leukemia Service will undoubtedly give me an edge in realizing my aspiration to be a globally-renowned Heme-Oncologist.


When interviewed by the University of Oxford in 2017: 10 years from now, whose shoes you want to see yourself in?My answer was constant ever since I read about Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee - the author of the book with which I commenced the article.  I met him in New York a few weeks ago at a talk and found a chance to introduce myself. He said,I know, you had written to me, right? Such a tremendous honor, that was. Thank you so much, Cornell and New York - I hope to return as a staff at Cornell/Sloan Kettering someday.

Sare Demirtas

Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine (Turkey)
Plastic Surgery Elective
September, 2018

My four week elective rotation in New York Presbyterian Hospital was a unbelieveable experience entirely. I made my rotation as a Sub-Intern in the Plastic Surgery Department and I had a chance to work with many people in there. Our team was so crowded because we had lots of works to do during the day.

Everyday we were starting with updating of the patient lists and then we were attending to the quick morning rounds with residents. Rounds take about 45 minutes for the plastics team because they start to surgeries as soon as they finish it.

I spent my time mostly in the ORs. I could have chance to watch the operations that I have never seen before. Moreover, attendings let me scrubbing in all cases and they helped me for suturing practices. I learned different plastic suturing techniques and find some time to develop my hand skills. I helped to residents for  pre and post op cares of the patients. They always encouraged me and  I took an active role during my rotation.

Every Monday, we had morning conferences in between rounds and surgeries. I attended to all and each week we discussed an interesting topic of Plastic Surgery with residents and attendings. Also because of Cornell-Columbia collaboration, our administrator sent me to Columbia University Medical Center for one week. I worked for maintaining the care of patients in Milstein and Morgan-Stanley Children’s Hospital in there. Therefore I could worked in two big university hospitals as Cornell and Columbia from American Ivy League Schools. Additionally, some cases of Plastics were being operated in HSS and I was going there for some days.

In the last week, I made a case presentation and I presented two Apert Syndrome cases from Turkey. It was a real challenge for me because it was the first time as I was doing a medical presentation in English. But all residents and attendings gave me very positive feedbacks after my performance.

In conclusion, I spent all my time for learning and I tried to do my best during this four weeks. My special thanks to Mrs. Dianne Young and to Dr. Madelon Finkel for their great support and guidance during the whole process. It was my first time in this magical city and it was really an unforgettable month for me.

Alexey Youssef

Tishreen University Faculty of Medicine (Syria)
Clinical Oncology Elective
January, 2018

Oncology is not about making the diagnosis of cancer, putting the patient on a barrage of therapies, or giving him an approximate estimate of the number of months/years he has left. It is about tailoring therapy for each patient’s genetic and molecular profile, bridging medical research and clinical care, building supportive relationships with the patients, and weighing their mental wellbeing equally to their physical one. Currently, given the expanding armament of chemo, immuno and genetic therapies, you get to break the good news of remission, response, or cure to the patients quite frequently, a fact that makes present-time oncology a fascinating specialty. I learned this during my oncology elective at Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital, which was a great opportunity for personal and academic growth, as well as a chance to make long-lasting relationships and connections.

My day used to start by the time I arrive to the hospital around 7:30 am. In the mornings, I used to check up on my assigned patients, review their charts, update their notes, and prepare a presentation for our attending physician during the daily rounds. A presentation that usually led to stimulating discussions about the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of every case. I rounded with two wonderful attendings, Dr. Ocean and Dr. Beltran, from whom I have learned the best of the clinical care and medical research worlds. Additionally, during my time at NYP, I came to experience the buzzing teamwork environment, clocklike punctuality, and delicate organization that govern the workplace here. Along with the clinical teaching environment, I was presented with a myriad of other learning opportunities. I attended case discussions, goals of care sessions, grand rounds, and different conferences. One exceptional opportunity was attending the weekly health policy sessions that satisfied my thirst for knowledge of health policy and health systems. Given the diversity of learning opportunities at NYP, I would say that you would never fall in the trap of daily routine!

This elective was not only a learning experience for me, but also an exciting social and a cultural one. I have learned about the cultures of the international students who shared this elective block with me. We were a cohort of Australians, Irish, Brazilians, Arabs, Pakistanis and Indians. We enjoyed sharing some aspects of our cultures, countries and medical schools. We also got the chance to explore NYC, the big apple, together. We visited many iconic monuments, attended concerts and social events, travelled, and experimented with different cuisines. You will never get bored in NYC!

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Finkel, Ms. Young, and the NYP/WCM staff for being so kind, caring, and supportive. They made sure that we enjoyed this experience to the maximum.

Zeel Bhatt

Smt. NHL Municipal Medical College (India)
Pediatric Nephrology Elective
November, 2017

I will always remember November 2017 as one of the best months of my life. The 4 week rotation opportunity I got to be a part of at NYP Cornell was such an insightful experience for me- clinically and academically. From Oct 23, 2017- November 17, 2017, I was rotating with the pediatric nephrology team – rounding in patient and attending clinics. It gave me a glimpse of American health care system and how differently things were approached here.

I was rotating with attendings who were very helpful and made me feel like a part of their team. A benefit of opting for a sub-specialty is that while round meetings you not only get to learn about kidney disease but additional pathologies the patient had and how other department work together to give a systemic approach to it. Also after in-patient rounds, I got opportunity to observe consult clinics with attendings, which not only exposed me to a wide range of disease but also gave me a clinical experience on how to take history and examine the patients. I also rotated in renal clinics where in I was given a firsthand experience by residents to consult patients.

My attendings were very inclined academically and gave me great articles regarding the diseases we came across. Also they made sure all my doubts and questions were cleared and I had better clear knowledge of the subject. Morning conferences and departmental meetings gave us an opportunity to discuss cases in depth and new research work and finding regarding them. All of our attendings, the chief, rotating residents, nurse and social worker would be present to discuss each admitted inpatient cases- starting from history, the investigations, differential diagnoses and follow up plan. Once accustomed with the system, it was exciting to brief the attending about the investigations and results and discuss treatment plan before the consult and was as good as a Sub-internship.

Also during my rotation, I got to learn about the social and psychological aspect of health care through a social worker helping us with post renal transplant and haemodialysis patients. I always believe, health is not just to be free of disease but also to have mental and social well being.

Apart from that, it was the first time I was living independently anywhere, and what better place I could have asked for. New York City is totally the city of dreams and light as they say. I had the best time exploring the city, the famous landmarks that I read and saw in movies growing up. I also got to meet medical students from Hungary, Germany, Qatar, Turkey and Spain.

I would like to express my gratitude to the staff of Office of Global Health – Dr. Finkel and Ms. Young for giving me this opportunity. It was a great learning experience which I would recommend to all aspiring students. Ms. Young was also supportive and there to answer any of my emails and calls regarding the process and very accommodating with the paperwork as well. Dr. Perelstein, Dr. Kumar and Dr. Gajjar were very welcoming and extremely kind and helpful with all aspects of my elective. It was such an incredible and memorable experience.

Weill Cornell Medicine
Office of International Medical Student Education
1300 York Avenue (C-118) New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-8058