Visiting Student Reflections

Rosi Wang

Technical University of Munich (Germany)
Gastroenterology – September 2017
September, 2017

Gastroenterology – September 2017
Benign Hematology – October 2017

Being born and raised in Germany with Chinese roots, intercultural exchange and influences have always been important to me. Thanks to the opportunity I was given, I was able to not only experience world-class medicine at the prestigious NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital but also to enjoy the multicultural and open-minded city of New York.

I found it highly inspiring how patients originating from numerous countries throughout the world were treated by international and interdisciplinary teams of doctors and nurses. Both of my rotations were consult services with many different cases, and I was given the responsibility to oversee my own patients, do physical examinations and present them to highly professional teams. Furthermore, I attended grand rounds, special clinics like the clinic for chronic inflammatory bowel disease, multi-disciplinary conferences and presented a paper at the coagulation journal club and was therefore able to deepen my knowledge in several fields. I was deeply impressed by the extent of digitalization in the American health care system, which is far more advanced than I ever experienced and by the highly improved productivity in the working place. Due to the American teaching system, I learned new approaches and different ways of problem-solving. The demanding and also supporting way of teaching was very helpful, and I am convinced that my future patients will benefit from the skills I gained.

During my rotations, I was able to grow both personally by making new friends and meeting potential future colleagues and professionally by working on challenging and rare cases – some of them diseases I thought I would only encounter in textbooks and never in real life.

My time in New York was exceptionally memorable and educative thanks to the physicians and hospital staff who went out of their way to make me feel welcome throughout my entire stay by treating me as part of the team and who always took their time to answer any questions I may have had thoroughly. Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to the team of the Global Health Office, especially Dr. Finkel and Dianne Young, who aided me in the organization of my stay and were always available if ever I needed advice or help.

Spogmai Saeed Khan

CMH Lahore Medical College (Pakistan)
Sub-Internship in Emergency Medicine
June, 2017

I was honored to rotate at New York Presbyterian Queens for 4 weeks as sub-intern in the department on EM. The program was supervised by Dr. Alla Bardash; she is an excellent clinician and above all a kind teacher. She made sure that I fully benefit from my time at NYPQ by preparing a schedule that allowed me access to all the concerned departments i.e. The trauma bay, Urgent care and The Adult and Pediatric ER.

All the attending doctors, residents and nurses were swamped due to the excessive patient load, yet they always encouraged me to participate not only in patient management but also to assist in clinical procedures. The staff worked diligently with compassion, care and the utmost professionalism reflecting that welfare of the patient was at the core of their combined efforts.

Dr. Bardash took special interest in our teaching sessions and conducted lectures exclusively for the visiting students on some very curious clinical cases and exciting but at times puzzling techniques like splinting, intubation and the most dreaded ECG interpretation. Moreover, systemized conferences were scheduled every week, to which physicians from various departments and hospitals were invited to speak and later interactive sessions were conducted where problem-based-learning was promoted in small groups. We were allocated complex (practical) clinical cases in the simulation lab under the supervision of Dr. Richard Shin, that helped us practice emergency response protocol for each particular clinical scenario. Emergency management in cases of MVA, aspiration in neonates and pericardiocentesis are to name a few. This not only allowed me to practice my procedural skills in an acute setting and in a timely manner but also gave a boost to my confidence. Working with a new team everyday gave me an idea of how different physicians practiced different approaches in the hospital setting.

One of the most striking feature of the NYPQ was the cultural diversity which I came across, be it the patients or the staff. It was a wonderful experience and I got to learn about different cultures and how they all came together in the clinical settings. The approach of providing clinical care which was patient centric and in tune with their cultural, racial and ethnic needs, helped promote rapport and patient responsiveness. The most crucial part of the entire elective was working at the trauma bay where one could easily become flustered, but the cool headed staff of the ED at NYPQ made it look ridiculously easy.

I feel very privileged to have had this opportunity. I would like to thank the entire staff of Global Health Education; Dr. Madelon Finkel, Ms. Dianne Young and last but not least Anastasia and Sejal. From their laser quick responses to my queries, arranging meeting for the international students to the constant reminders to enjoy our stay in New York, they were a revelation. Especially Ms. Young, who helped, supported and cared for us throughout the duration. I would certainly recommend this rotation to all those who are interested. It has been a joyous journey of learning, friendship and achievement. I would love to come back and be a part of NYP someday!

Petal Elder

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
Sub-internship Neurosurgery
March, 2017

I study medicine in Ireland, but I am from the beautiful Caribbean twin island republic, Trinidad and Tobago. I was honored to be granted this incredible opportunity to complete an elective at Weill Cornell- New York Presbyterian Hospital in the neurosurgery department, under the supervision of Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield (a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon).

It is my plan to become a neurosurgeon and also a leader in health policy and global health. I had already completed neurosurgical electives in Melbourne, Australia and Dublin, Ireland but this experience was incomparable. My supervisor was not only an excellent teacher but also a great mentor. Moreover, the international elective coordinator- Mrs Dianne Young- made us feel very welcome. We had an orientation where we were given tips on making most of the elective experience and an event showcasing the different cultures of the diverse group of students.

The neurosurgical team was absolutely inspiring- not just their incredible work ethic but the compassion with which they showed each patient. Days were hectic and an absolute thrill- ward rounds began at 6am, then off to informative conferences exposing you to cutting edge research and innovative neurosurgical techniques, surgeries and clinic. It was an opportunity to see a wide array of surgeries in all parts of the neurosurgical field- cerebrovascular, pituitary tumor and brain tumor removals, posterior fossa decompressions for chiari malformations and surgery for movement disorders. Scrubbing in and assisting in surgery brought you up close to observing the surgeons’ dexterity, vigilance and meticulous care. It was also a chance to learn basic surgical techniques such as knot tying and suturing. In clinic, each neurosurgeon has a subspecialty and I sat in with most of them to try to get a sample of the different areas. One of my favorites, was pediatric clinic with Dr Greenfield. You felt like part of the team, engaging in discussion for management of each patient and learning about the complex area of pediatric neurosurgery from brain tumors to spine and brain malformations.

Overall, this was a life changing experience. I am very happy with my time here. It solidified neurosurgery as my career choice and made me even more motivated and excited on my journey to achieving this goal. It was also fantastic living in New York City- you are never bored with your time outside the hospital, I can guarantee you that.

I am truly grateful to Dr. Greenfield of the neurological surgery department, the entire neurosurgical team, Mrs. Young and the global health team for providing me with such a wonderful opportunity.

Joshua Kahan

UCL Medical School, United Kingdom
Adult in-patient Neurology Sub-Internship
April, 2016

In April 2016, I spent four weeks as the “Sub-I” for the Department of Neurology at New York Presbyterian - Weill Cornell Medical Centre in New York.

The Neurology Sub-I program is supervised by Dr Joseph Safdieh and Dr Natalie Weathered, both of whom are not only wonderful and experienced attending clinicians and teachers, but are both approachable, and enjoyable to talk to. They took a genuine interest in my learning and future career, and I am immensely grateful for their wisdom and guidance. The program is administered by the ever-delightful Carol Hopkins, who I’m equally thoroughly indebted to.

As a medical student in London, I had previously completed a Neurology clerkship at a specialist centre, and quickly realized this was a specialty that I very much enjoyed. I was delighted to be offered an additional opportunity to experience Neurology before my graduation, and I was particularly excited to have this opportunity at Weill Cornell. Before my elective, I had read a lot about Cornell’s reputation as a leading medical school, but it was only on arriving at Cornell did I truly realize the magnanimity of the learning arena.

Immersive is probably the most apt way of describing the experience of being Neurology Sub-I. Working hours for medical students in the US are generally fairly intense compared to UK and Europe, and as such, your opportunity to learn is plentiful, and your near-continuous presence on the ward makes you feel an established member of the clinical team. I spent most of my time working with the acute neurology team, which predominantly specialised in vascular neurology. I would follow a number of patients from admission to discharge, presenting their progress to the attending each morning at rounds. I was responsible for all day-to-day clinical jobs for my patients, supervised by the Senior and Chief Residents.

The team were eager to get me as involved as possible, and were keen to teach whenever an opportunity arose. Neurology at Cornell benefits from a wide-ranging educational program for its residents and medical students, and I was encouraged to attend morning report, grand rounds, specialist teaching sessions and teaching rounds. The lectures and presentations were of high quality, and were delivered by engaging and thoroughly interesting members of Cornell’s diverse faculty.

As an international student, I was additionally looked after by Dr Madelon Finkel and Dianne Young of the WCMC Global Health Department. This gave me an opportunity to meet other international medical students, and reflect on the differences of our respective native healthcare settings. Furthermore, our shared non-American-ness created a small but active group of explorers of New York when we weren’t at the hospital. There were a number of organized (and plenty of spontaneous) social events that allowed me to learn about what studying medicine is like in different parts of the world.

Overall, my elective with Cornell Neurology was academically fulfilling, intellectually engaging, and socially rewarding, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this experience to all that are interested. I remain incredibly grateful to Dr Safdieh and Dr Weathered of the Department of Neurology, and Dr Finkel and Mrs Young of the Global Health Department, and look forward to crossing paths with them and their teams in the future.

Ramakrishnan D N

Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore
Manipal University
May, 2016

Glickman Fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology - May 2016
Subinternship in Maternal Fetal Medicine - August 2016

I spent 8 weeks at Weill Cornell, split into two 4 week rotations at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Center in Manhattan and the New York Presbyterian Hospital in Queens. Both these rotations gave me immense insight into the field I wish to pursue and prepared me for the demands of being an OBGYN resident in the future.

The Glickman Fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology under Dr Thomas Caputo was an excellent opportunity for me to focus on the advances in diagnosis and treatment of cervical and ovarian cancers, and witness a multidisciplinary approach for patients with advanced metastatic disease. During the rotation I followed up on my own patients, participated in tumor boards and was given the opportunity to observe and assist in colposcopies and gynecologic surgeries. I also spent time with Dr Holcomb and Dr Chapman at the clinic, where patients were referred for an abnormal pap smear or came back for a post-operative follow up. Being with the fellow and residents gave me an insight into the complete evaluation of a patient from the time she presented to the ER with complaints of bleeding or pain, her initial diagnostic investigations, setting up of a treatment regime, scheduling her for surgery, post-operative care, to the time her diet was fully advanced and she was ready to be discharged. I feel privileged to have been a part of this team.

My second rotation was a subinternship in Maternal Fetal Medicine under Dr Daniel Skupski. This rotation was an intense learning experience for me as it focused solely on the care of high risk pregnancies. I learnt the nuances of performing and interpreting fetal ultrasounds and non-stress tests. I participated in patient teaching and counseling sessions for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, viral infections during pregnancy. I was also fortunate to observe amniocentesis and amino-infusion procedures, external cephalic versions and the insertion of a cervical cerclage at 24 weeks of gestation. At the high risk clinic, I participated with Dr Skupski in the examination and counseling of pregnant women with pre-existing diagnosis of seizure disorders, hypothyroidism, and psychiatric conditions. I was given a free hand to acquaint myself with the standard practices on the labor floor, which I took full advantage of. During the 4 weeks, I assisted in vaginal and cesarean deliveries. The most entertaining part of the rotation was when I had to learn how to ask a laboring mother to push in Spanish and Mandarin. I enjoyed my time on the labor and delivery floor with the residents and several different attending physicians on the OBGYN service.

Both these rotations offered me a unique perspective towards women’s healthcare in the United States, and allowed me to contrast them with the practices I learnt in India during medical school. These rotations have only increased my resolve to pursue OBGYN as a career. I’d like to thank the department of OBGYN and Weill Cornell Global Health for giving me this opportunity of a lifetime.

For now, I shall cherish these 2 months, and I hope to return to New York City again, and sing along with Frank Sinatra “I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep...”

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