St. George’s University welcomed nine students from five countries during the summer as part of the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) Exchange Program. Facilitated by the University’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, the public health projects were part of IFSMA’s worldwide campaign that allows approximately 10,000 medical students to participate in bilateral and equitable student exchanges in pursuit of global clinical and research experiences each year.
“The projects offered an all-encompassing experience,” said Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Project Coordinator and Deputy Chair of the Department. “It demonstrated that the health of an individual is dependant on many socio-economic and political factors.”
Among those who participated was first-year medical student Janna Gribi from the Medical University of Vienna. She spent more than four weeks working on St. George’s University’s Sports for Health Program and an occupational health program with the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA).
“It is very important to know and understand the practice of medicine in different places around the world in order to be a global doctor,” Ms. Gribi added. “This experience encouraged me to be open-minded and think outside the box.”
At Grenada’s General Hospital, Asier Bombin, a first-year medical student from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain, with a keen interest in surgery, shadowed an attending physician, visited the operations theater and sat in on patient consultations.
“The health system in Grenada is really different from back home, but you don’t learn about those differences and get a greater appreciation for them unless you experience it yourself,” he stated. “I’ve always wanted to have a global perspective, and being able to witness the practice of medicine in Grenada provided a global medical experience which is important to the practice of medicine everywhere.”
“IFMSA offers medical students the unique opportunity to act local and go global,” said Pier Hart, president of IFMSA-Grenada. “It enriches the SGU community by bringing in exchange students from other countries who share their diverse cultures and unique perspectives on the science and art of medicine from their geographic regions. In return, we provide the opportunity to experience the country and engage in research and hospital rotations that serve the people of Grenada.”
St. George’s University students, too, have traveled for such exchanges. SGU sent medical student Dan Pierce to the University of Bergen Faculty of Medicine in Norway in June 2013, and in April 2014, Andres Molina visited Spain. Students from at least seven countries, including Norway, Ghana, and Brazil, are anticipated to visit the True Blue Campus during the summer of 2015. According to Mr. Pierce, former IFMSA-Grenada National Exchange Officer, “these exchanges are very inexpensive for students, and they are fun. In addition to doing research and gaining clinical experience, the hosting committee in each country organizes events for each incoming exchange student so they can truly experience the culture and lifestyles of that country.”