Clinical SGA Connection
During his third year of medical school, Clinical Student Government Association (CSGA) director Soubhi Alhayek took advantage of AUC’s clinical training opportunities in the United Kingdom. Now in his fourth year, the Chicago native reflects on his time at Wexham Park Hospital in Wexham, England and his experience completing surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics cores there.
Why did you decide to do rotations in the United Kingdom?
Originally, I was set to go to New York for my rotations and it was a last-minute decision to go to the UK.
Adrianna Gatt, one of my friends and a fellow director of the CSGA, was organizing a UK clinicals information session with Dr. Stephen Ash, AUC’s Associate Clinical Dean for the UK. I decided to tag along—there was free food—and as I sat in the back row I listened to Dr. Ash speak about the benefits of UK rotations. The one that resonated with me the most was the significant hands-on experience that students got in UK hospitals. After sitting in a classroom for two years, I was honestly ready to get a running start on the next part of my education. I was convinced. I signed up, packed my bags, and began my experience in the UK.
When people say hands-on experience, they really mean it. For surgery, you are first assist on almost every surgery you scrub in on. You will deliver babies, help with cesarean sections, and participate in countless other experiences. I was able to improve all of my technical skills while learning the theory and preparing for shelve exams.
How do you think your experience in the UK will impact your career as a future physician?
Three things in particular have made me a better student and a better future physician: Technical skills, my new understanding of another medical system, and my experiences talking with patients.
As I talked about above, I was able to practice many procedures while on the wards including venipuncture, intravenous catheterization, foley catheterization, intubation, and arterial blood gas just to name a few. As an intern, I along with many of my peers who went to the UK, will have no problem preforming these procedures confidently.
I don’t think people put enough of an emphasis on the opportunity to learn another medical system. While learning about the UK system, I was able to learn more about the US medical system. When first starting in the UK, people would ask about the US and I would talk about how great the medical system was. If I were asked the same question today, I would say the US medical system is not the best in the world, but it can be. With my UK experience in hand, I can now make informed decisions about how best to guide my patient’s care and make a valuable change to the US system.
From day one in the UK, you are an active member of a health team. That team depends on you to be there and values you as a member. I remember the first day of my surgery rotation I was extremely nervous and didn’t know what to do. After talking with Mr. AlShoek (Mister means you are a surgeon in the UK), who may be arguably one of the best teachers I have ever had, I talked to my first patient and gained a sense of confidence that you can only learn with experience.
What was one thing that surprised you about your experience in another healthcare system and culture?
It’s free! I mean it’s not exactly free, but it’s free! Going to a doctor and getting everything taken care of is covered under the National Health Service (NHS). This was something that I had to get used to. Just the other day I went to the doctor and was charged $400 with insurance. British people are very protective of NHS and they do not mind paying higher taxes in order to keep the system going. To quote a patient I had a discussion with, “I was born in the NHS, I have paid into the NHS, and I will die in the NHS.”
Tell us about your favorite memory from doing rotations in the UK?
I have so many great memories but the best thing about being in England and doing rotations in the UK was the relationships that I built. All of the doctors, clerkship directors, and staff got to know me and created a genuine relationship. I made friends that I now call family and can’t wait to get back.
What was the biggest lesson you learned while working in an international healthcare setting?
Just because a disease is not common in the United States does not mean it does not exist. My step 1 knowledge really did help me here. When some of the doctors tried to ask me obscure questions, I was able to answer with relative ease. I guess it goes to show that all of those little facts we learn actually matter!
What’s one piece of advice you would give to student considering the Global Health elective or rotations in the UK?
Get out there and do it! It was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. The only thing I would change is that I would have stayed in the UK longer.