Medical students share their experiences

Nabeela Kajee (left) with San-Marie Malan, also a sixth-year medical student. On the insert (right) is Alicia Roos.
Students from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) of Stellenbosch University (SU) have the opportunity to attend a variety of summer and winter schools at partner institutions across the world which are facilitated by staff in the International Office.  
 
Two sixth-year medical students from the FMHS, who used the opportunity to visit the Utrecht Medical Centre’s (UMC) Summer School, Nabeela Kajee, and Alicia Roos, share their experiences.
 
Global thinking – the power of the global health approach 
Nabeela Kajee (MB,ChB VI)
Today we live in a world that is interconnected. This is especially true with healthcare. With a glance at research development and advancements in science, it is clear that we have shared from a global increase in discovery. 
 
However, there continues to exist an inextricable gap between the health of individuals in developing countries in contrast to developed countries. A child born in the US, for example, is substantially less likely to die of a preventable disease than one born in South Africa. Statistically, an American’s life expectancy may fall in the early 80s, whereas - in distinct contrast - a South African’s life expectancy would be little over half of that.[1] 
 
For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in improving the inequalities in medical provision, accessibility to medicine, and a shared healthcare transformation. 
 
I was delighted to attend the UMC’s Challenges in Global Health course offered within the Summer School programme. We found ourselves immersed in a truly global context, with tangible policy issues at hand – as we debated the blueprints of our thinking. The sharing of ideas was particularly stimulating, with minds from various continents paving the way. 
 
The course was succinct in nature, covering a spectrum of powerful questions, and a particular focus on collaborative mind set. There is much to be learnt, I discovered, from interacting with inclusive perspective, and in seeking both established and new solutions to pressing challenges. 
 
Beyond the discussions, we found ourselves in the beautiful student town of Utrecht. The Netherlands welcomed us warmly. Our adventures took us to grassy plains with roaming cows and picturesque windmills. At dinner times we would wander the cobbled streets, between cyclists and winding canals. Our Afrikaans was most amusing to the Dutch!
 
I encourage other students to contemplate the excellent courses available and make an application. 
 
Regenerative Medicine: Summer School in Utrecht
Alicia Roos (MB ChB VI)
 
The UMC’s Summer School is indeed the experience of a lifetime – a holistic experience encompassing culture, sight-seeing, travelling, social activities, academics and the wonderful opportunity to meet individuals from across the globe – with the added advantage of sharing an interest in medicine. 
 
This summer school is the largest in Europe and courses are conducted in a vast variety of disciplines – medicine being only one example. 
 
Summer is of course a wonderful time to experience Europe and all it has to offer. The added experience of being a student in Europe really is something else and something I can absolutely recommend. 
 
I did a course in Regenerative Medicine, which was an eye opener to the facilities and resources in Europe, in terms of medical science and medical research. 
 
I was also fortunate to experience the start of the Tour de France in Utrecht. The city was bursting with excitement and the streets were swarming with tourists from all over the world. 
 
UMC Summer School is indeed a wonderful opportunity that broadens the mind. 
 
If you have any chance to go, grab it with both hands!
 
The international courses can range from one to six weeks and it is a great opportunity to experience tertiary education outside South Africa. There are numerous courses on offer, with funding opportunities available to include all worthy applicants. Visit the SU’s International Office’s website for more information: http://www0.sun.ac.za/international/current-students/international-opportunities-for-su-students/summer-winter.html
 
[1] Bloom DE, Canning D. The health and wealth of nations. Science. 2000;287(5456):1207-9.
 
Nabeela Kajee en Alicia Roos