Christa Brew undertook a placement in Iloilo, Philippines

Charity funds Medicine students’ placements abroad

Final year Medicine students have spent the summer developing their clinical skills through international work placements in locations around the world, thanks to a charity donation.

The £10,000 donation, by the charity The Hospital Saturday Fund (HSF), enabled four final year Medicine students to conduct work placements across the globe, from the oceans of Panama to the mountains of Nepal.

The HSF made the donation to the University of Exeter Medical School in August, to support medical students in this essential part of their training. The charity aims to support healthcare through grants for care, research, and support of medical training.

Exeter’s Medicine students undertake a work placement in their final year to enrich their learning. This can be a clinical or research placement, or a combination of both. Many students take this opportunity to see how medicine is practised in other parts of the world.

One student, Seren Dupont, spent her elective in Nepal, working in an emergency department of a hospital for the first half, then practising medicine in remote villages. “My time in Nepal was truly amazing”, Seren said. “I gained confidence in my own abilities in diagnosing and managing patients, which I am certain will benefit me in my final year as a student and as I begin my career.”

Another, Cariosa Devlin, travelled to Tonga, where she spent eight weeks practising general medicine, as well as Obstetrics and Gynaecology. “The ethical situations that I observed have taught me so much about how medicine is influenced by cultural beliefs and the history of a country”, said Cariosa. “I am truly grateful for the wonderful opportunities and experiences I have gained from this trip.”

Aniela Neicho did two placements on her elective; first working with Floating Doctors, a non-profit organisation which delivers medical care to remote communities, in Panama; and then at a private hospital in Medellin, Colombia.

Whilst with Floating Doctors, Aniela contributed to health education, saying she “really enjoyed being able to plan and deliver a few basic teaching sessions for classes of children is some of the communities we visited”. Reflecting on the trip, Aniela said: “I found it an incredibly rewarding experience which has fuelled my desire to participate in medical aid work in the future.”

Christa Brew undertook a placement in Iloilo, Philippines. She worked in Internal Medicine, Paediatrics, Family Medicine and Anaesthetics. Christa said: “I feel I have learnt a great deal on my elective… I learnt to appreciate different cultures and how this may affect patients’ health beliefs. This will certainly be useful in the future as a doctor as I will meet patients from all kinds of backgrounds and having an understanding of different beliefs is paramount.”

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of The Hospital Saturday Fund said: “The Hospital Saturday Fund is delighted to support the University of Exeter Medical School with their Medical Electives Programme which gives students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and skills in diverse overseas locations. The Hospital Saturday Fund is pleased to have the opportunity to work with Exeter and is thrilled to see the development of the students as they benefit from first-hand clinical experience and development of their skills.”

Dr Nicki Saulsbury, who is responsible for ensuring University of Exeter Medical School Medicine students are prepared for clinical practice, said: “It’s wonderful to see our students’ contribution to the ongoing health needs of the environments they visit. As well as this, these international placements are hugely valuable in shaping students’ medical training. Students get fantastic hands-on experience of the extremes of medicine around the world, including seeing the practice of medicine in areas with limited resources. These placements help students develop vital personal and professional skills which will be extremely useful in their future careers as doctors, in the UK or abroad.”

Date: 29 November 2017

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