Reflections of my Elective at KPUM: 18th July – 25th August 2017
To me the elective period, 6 weeks on the summer of completing 4th year and starting 5th and final year, was very important. It truly was a case of “the world is your oyster” and I wanted to go somewhere that I can learn and experience many things inside and outside the hospital environment. There were many places on my list that I thought about, but I ultimately decided on Kyoto, Japan.
I have always been fascinated with Japanese culture and wanted to experience that first hand. However, from a medical perspective, I wanted to be somewhere that was comparable and/or better than UK. There are many admirable things about Japan; universal health care coverage, one of the best life expectancies in the world, and generally a very healthy and health-conscious population. I specifically chose KPUM because it was a teaching hospital, similar to my medical school and its teaching hospitals, where active research and the best that medicine can offer is available, not just to patients, but also doctors and students alike, where opportunities to learn and progress are part of daily life.
I have always had an interest in surgery and hope to pursue a surgical career once qualified. I therefore chose all surgical specialties that I have an interest in, to enhance my experiences and understanding, and hopefully help me in making a career choice.
My 6 week schedule in chronological order was as follows:
• Week 1 – Transplant Surgery
• Week 2 – Plastic Surgery
• Week 3 – Ophthalmology
• Week 4 – Obstetrics and Gynaecology
• Week 5 – Urology
• Week 6 – Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
I feel like I have gained something new or very meaningful in every specialty. Of course, this list is too long and detailed for here, but I will summarise as follows:
In Transplant and Plastic Surgery weeks I was given opportunities to scrub into surgery and assist. As a budding surgeon, this was invaluable and most welcome.
In Ophthalmology, I managed to experience not just KPUM but another hospital, a number of specialties within ophthalmology in the outpatient and operating room departments. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to practice cataract surgery at Alcon Laboratories.
In Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I was asked my interests within the specialty and directed towards these. I especially enjoyed the session where I got to practice suture and knot tying with laparoscopic equipment in the office. I also thought it was wonderful to finish my week off with the birth of a gorgeous little girl.
In Urology, I got to see surgeries that I had never seen with the Da Vinci, as well as a greater variety of surgeries than I had experienced thus far. The best was having to practice with Da Vinci simulator on a number of occasions.
In Otolaryngology, I got to see various different treatment modalities, as well as some very rare conditions, expert surgery and some very specialist clinics.
In all the departments I attended, I was welcomed into the team and made to feel part of the group immediately. I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked my interests within the specialty and then seen every team go out of its way to cater my schedule to include as much of that interest as possible. I was also surprised that people knew about me within each team, even people I had not met, and my conversations of interest with one person was quickly disseminated with other members of the team, who all helped to make me feel at home.
I am really interested in research and truly believe in the bench to bedside mantra; I hope to be a surgeon, but also be involved in active research. I was therefore really happy to meet doctors doing research in many of the departments I visited and having been given the opportunities to see and discuss the various different research areas within each field. I am incredibly grateful to get one-to-one lectures delivered by such eminent people, who were enthusiastic with their subject and patient with all my questions.
I am also grateful to everyone who took the time to speak to me and explain surgeries, patient histories/treatments/imaging and answered my incessant questions, showed great patience and direction as I tried to suture or use the simulators – to you I am much indebted.
Finally, a special thanks to everyone who went out of their way to welcome me not just in the hospital but who also kindly invited me out and showed me great hospitality outside the walls of KPUM. Being at KPUM has exceeded my expectations in every way and I feel like I have gained so much – great experiences, breadth of knowledge, truly remarkable people and wonderful friends. KPUM and Kyoto will always have a special place in my heart and I would love to return, so please remember my name if you happen to see it on an application!