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MEDI 407 – Digestive Diseases and Nutrition

Simranjit Kaur – Kasturba Medical College, Manipal (India)

UNC speaks for itself and has been such a wonderful experience! To start with, I was amazed at the expanse of the campus and the facilities here, with dedicated buildings for research, interconnected hospitals of various medical specialties, fine cafeterias and an amazing library. The people here are so kind and helpful. I rotated in MEDI407 (Digestive diseases and nutrition). Here, I was part of the Hepatology (Liver) and Gastroenterology (Luminal) teams for two weeks each. This is my third elective in the States and has definitely been the best so far. The reason I say this, is because UNC has a good patient load, I saw a variety of cases and got sufficient hands on experience both on the liver and luminal side. I got the opportunity to see procedures I had just read about in books, for example, the fecal transplant for patients with recurrent c-diff infections (which is still in the research phase), esophageal manometry and pH monitoring, capsule endoscopy, treating varices with banding and APC on endoscopy, snaring polyps and bipolar coagulation of hemorrhoids on colonoscopy. A usual day would start with procedures, seeing consults with my fellow, working up a case on my own, presenting that on rounds, entering patient notes and attending conferences. I thoroughly enjoyed the research conferences and discussions with my attendings about current guidelines and upcoming treatments for various GI disorders – IBD, HCC, amyloidosis, gut dysbiosis, alcoholic hepatitis, decompensated cirrhosis, achalasia to name a few.  This strengthened my knowledge and inspired my interest in Research and Gastroenterology as career options.  My fellows and attendings were so approachable and friendly. They took time from their busy schedule to teach me. I was actively involved in patient care and truly felt I was part of the team.  After this rotation, I feel more confident presenting and working up cases, as well as writing patient notes. My fellows would review the notes with me and give me tips on how I could improve upon them.  I also learnt passively by observing my fellows and attendings, interact with patients and address their concerns.  As patient counseling is a huge part of patient interaction, I now feel more comfortable interacting with patients and counseling them.  Coming from a foreign country where medicine is practiced differently, the UNC experience has definitely given me an excellent understanding of how medicine is practiced here in US.  

I sincerely appreciate all the efforts Camila, Shay and other members of international affairs team put in to make the elective process so smooth – from application, housing, transportation to a warm welcome at orientation and UNC dinner, a great reflection of the Southern hospitality prevalent here. Camila also reached out to all the international students rotating this month and connected us via email before we got here, as well as created a Facebook group which was quite helpful. We had access to all facilities, similar to UNC students, like the library and gym, in addition to having resources for safety such as Safewalk, where two UNC students volunteer to walk you back home if you’re late finishing off at the hospital/library. 

My advice to future applicants would be to apply well in advance. It would help if you have completed an internal medicine elective prior to this, because a consult service is a little different especially if this is your first elective and you’ve not had a US clinical experience before. Also, having evaluations from attendings in previous electives helped boost my application for an elective here. Chapel Hill as a place is a charming small student town, quite safe and people here are very warm and welcoming. Definitely come prepared for the weather with warm clothing and an umbrella.