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21 June 2019

King's students making an impact on the global stage

Kosta Pandos, Communications & Engagement Officer

Year 5 GKT students came together to present their elective experiences with their peers.

GKT students celebrate their electives
Medical students return from their electives

On Wednesday 19 June, Year 5 students from the GKT School of Medical Education celebrated their achievements from their elective placements and shared stories and lessons from around the globe.

During year 5, students are required to spend eight weeks on elective placement as part of the Elective and Global Health module with many opting for overseas placements before entering the workforce as newly graduated medical doctors.

Dr Ann Wylie, Elective and Global Health Lead in the Department of Population Health Sciences, described the significance of such an experience and how the curriculum at GKT prepares students to be medical leaders. King’s gives students the skills, tools, resources and confidence to make a difference outside the classroom.          

While not all students choose to do their elective placement abroad, electives give students the chance to develop on a professional level and see different parts of the world. They help diagnose advanced conditions, observe rare tropical diseases and come to understand the many challenges faced by low-resource clinical institutions.

Student, Catherin Ward, travelled to Israel to work in the oldest hospital in the Middle East – the EMMS Nazareth Hospital. Catherin was based in the 24-hour emergency room where most of her patients were women suffering from hyperventilation syndrome (HVS). 

HVS is a maladaptive response to anxiety, with a higher prevalence in females and sometimes referred to as ’Nazareth disease’. Catherin reported that patients exhibited a bizarre, dramatic and wide-ranging set of symptoms. The syndrome is managed with breathing techniques and a series of medications.

Catherin explored the mental and physical consequences of cultural trauma in the region and emphasised the importance of considering how historical events affect the health and well-being of patients.

Another medical student, Mao Lim, undertook his elective at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. Clinically, he was attached to the outpatient team where he covered cases spanning general haematology, thalassemia, sickle cell, haemophilia and oncology.  

Mao gained a more “nuanced perspective” of the US health system during his placement. He explained that unlike the NHS, US practitioners spend more time dealing with insurance policies, political influences and the entrepreneurial side of medicine, rather than solely focusing on providing care.

Because of [American] healthcare being a competitive marketplace, you do get some outstanding hospitals and health systems, but this does result in a lot of duplication and deepens health inequalities for those who can't access healthcare for financial reasons.

Mao Lim, GKT student

Mao also had some advice for future students embarking on their electives: “You may not be able to experience everything that would make for an ideal experience, but that's ok! Take advantage of the place you're in, get in touch with interesting people or places you may want to visit while you're there.”  

For further information about the GKT School of Medical Education and the elective placements click here.