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SURY 428 – AI in Gastrointestinal Surgery
Patrick Cherfan, American University of Beirut (Lebanon)

What has been your favorite part of your elective?

My favorite part of my elective was that I was treated as one of the team when I was around the residents, attendings and even the patients. I was introduced as one of the team and treated as if I were one of their own medical students. Everything was perfect, it was a really professional environment. This started with the Office of International Activities who had set up everything in advance to make sure I had completed all vaccines and was doing my elective in a safe way. Another thing was that I chose a rotation that was technically hard and advanced, laparoscopy and minimally invasive surgery, I didn’t expect to be able to give a hand since it is very technical and way beyond my level. But I was taught a lot about those procedures and techniques. I was able to train through simulation in the lab and residents were always there to help and give me tips. They taught me some tricks on how to perform those procedures even though I couldn’t do them on real patients, which is what I was prepared for from the beginning. Another really beautiful thing was it was a really great educational experience. Starting with rounds in the morning, I practiced more on presenting patients in addition to attending conferences. I was given the chance to give my input and present my own patients who were going to be operated on. I also liked grand rounds in addition to M&Ms. These were really constructive. Best thing about M&Ms is that you get to admit that you did something could have been done in another way. I think this will promote collective learning for everyone and contribute to better patient care. I also enjoyed the teaching sessions with the director of the surgical clerkship of medical students. I also had the chance to meet some students from UNC and have an idea about their curriculum and how they perceive medicine.

What do you think makes UNC different?

I actually always went to private schools, although I really believe that public schools are the ones that can change the world. Everyone has the right to learn, not only the people who can afford it. It was a really big step for me to have an experience at a public school that was highly professional and also had a great mix of education and campus life. From going to basketball games and supporting the Tarheels, to participating in some other activities on campus, I got to meet some really interesting people from all around the world. I think this is very unique about UNC, there is high diversity in its students which raises the level of education.

Do you have any advice to share with future international visiting students?

If you are considering doing an elective at UNC, go for it! It’s a great learning experience and you’ll get to meet some really helpful people. They are just waiting for you to ask, so don’t be shy to speak up. And most importantly, be yourself.