Grant recipient Neda Hasan (2008), pictured in the centre, and now a qualified doctor, used her medical elective to spend eight weeks studying Paediatric Endocrinology at hospitals in Bangkok and Sydney. My journey started in Bangkokís oldest and largest university hospital, Chulalongkorn. I applied here for Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases. I spent a total of four weeks shadowing various specialties within Paediatrics in clinics and focussed on Infectious diseases on the wards. It was a very steep learning curve both academically and culturally. I was moved by how the Thai parents were more than happy for me to be involved in the care of their children, even though I could not speak the language and was not fully qualified. The medical team were keen to teach me and make me feel welcome.

I was able to help treat many rare and complex diseases. Actinomycosis, Ascariasis, and Pulmonary campylobacter in children were as common as an ear infection or asthma! The only hindrance was the language barrier. I found it difficult to carry out any practical procedures as I was not able to consent the parents. However, I found it helpful to take a back seat and observe as there was so much new material to learn.

Comparing the healthcare in Chulalongkorn to that in the NHS showed marked differences. With limited diagnostic equipment, the doctors had a deeper knowledge of pathophysiology, but they were unable to keep up with some WHO and other international guidelines that we use in the UK.
For the following four weeks I attended St Vincentís Hospital in Sydney working in the Endocrine department. The care in St Vincentís was very similar to that in the NHS. However, the pressures on the healthcare system were much less pronounced in Australia when compared to the UK. There were shorter waiting lists, clinics with only 5 patients per doctor (as opposed to 15 plus in the UK), and certain expensive drugs were more readily available.

I was able to have a more central role as I could communicate both with the team and the patients more than adequately. I was allowed to engage actively in ward rounds, voicing my opinion on diagnosis and treatment, and examining patients. Had it not been for the grant and the two months off from work, I would have never been able to take this wonderful journey! All the medical experience and otherwise that I have gained has been invaluable to me, and hopefully will make me a better doctor.


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