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MEDI 406 – Cardiovascular Critical Care

Muhammad Dawood Sheikh – The Aga Khan University (Pakistan)

Tell us about your elective rotation experience at UNC.

It has been a great experience doing a rotation in the CICU at UNC. Back home, I hadn’t done a critical care rotation, so I did not know what to expect when I came here. The patients at the CICU are complicated. You aren’t only treating them from a cardiovascular stand point but also dealing with neurological, renal, gastrointestinal, infectious diseases and pulmonary problems. Your treatment plan is based on addressing all these systems. I’d never presented in a way where I had to go system by system. It was interesting. It was challenging. I loved it!

My favorite part of the elective was the environment. It was very conducive to learning. The attendings changed every week. Every attending had their own take on how to treat patients, so you learn different ways to tackle patients. All of the attendings loved to teach so you come out of the rotation learning so much from different people. The residents are your biggest support system. Even though they are super busy, they always take out time to help you and answer your questions. The entire team from the nurses to the residents to the fellows are welcoming. You never feel out of place.

Do you have advice for future students?

I think when an international medical student comes to do an elective at UNC, they have a list of things that they want to get out of this experience. The advice that I would want to give would be to take things one step at a time guys and to not overthink about how you are performing in your elective. Just remember that you’re here to learn and focus on the learning part and honestly everything else just falls into place. I’m used to presenting in English back home. But because I was not accustomed to how patients were presented in the CICU, I did initially struggle with my presentations and was hard on myself for my mistakes. It’s a 4-week elective. Nobody expects you to be perfect. Make mistakes. Look at it as a different experience that will take time to adjust to. Enjoy your time here

Regarding learning opportunities, the amount you learn is solely based on how proactive you are. You can go to the CATH lab to watch procedures or ask your attendings to do clinics with them. Everybody is super encouraging, and nobody really stops you from seeking out more learning opportunities. Overall its been really great. I would definitely encourage people interested in cardiology to apply for this elective.