Pranav Balakrishnan – Kasturba Medical College Manipal (India)

SURY 420 – Acting Internship in Cardiothoracic Surgery

SURY 481 – Acting Internship in Surgical Oncology

Tell us about your two rotations at UNC.

I have done a few electives before UNC, but I feel like this was definitely the most comprehensive and well-planned program. I did electives in cardiothoracic surgery and surgical oncology and both were different experiences, with clear guidelines on the learning objectives for each rotation and included interactions with multiple attendings. This could work in your favor or against. Being an international student, I know it’s important to network. And if your interactions are limited to only 2-3 days, they are not adequate for attendings to form an impression of you; but I think I feel like if you work hard enough, they will definitely recognize it and help you achieve your goals for the duration of your elective and further.

I found some great mentors here who graciously took me on for research after my 2 months of electives. This has been eye-opening and insightful because I haven’t had a too many mentors who could help me with research. And here in this elective, I am getting trained on how the system actually works and how to approach a problem and work your way towards solving it. I have also met some attendings who have been helping me figure out how to apply for my general surgery residency program. There’s a misconception pretty much everywhere outside of America that getting a surgery program in America is close to impossible. It’s reassuring to have heard multiple times here to the contrary. “If you work hard and have your scores and you’ve been putting in time for research and extracurricular activities it will work out.”

What was the best part of your experience?

The thoracic team flew me out with them to harvest a lung for a transplant. That’s something I’ve never experienced before. Just being a part of a transplant surgery in itself is incredible for someone who is looking to do surgery. Being on the team that goes out and brings back the lung changes your opinion of how things work and what you want to do. It makes the hours put in absolutely worth it.

What is your research?

Connected to Transplantation procurement, we are working on Procurement outcomes and comparing resident and attending procurement to understand how the two systems are doing. UNC is one of the few places that sends out resident trainees also to do the procurement.