Queens' student undertakes medical internship in Yerevan, Armenia

Queens' student Samuel Amey (2017) has just returned from a six-week medical internship in Yerevan, Armenia in partnership with the Armenian General Benevolent Union and the Yerevan Summer Internship Program.

He provided the following report:

On the 15th June I got on a plane to fly to Yerevan, both excited and uncertain about what to expect from the six weeks. Upon reaching the AGBU Vahe Karapetyan centre, I met the rest of the interns, a diverse group from America, Canada and Lebanon, who were going to be interning in a range of different professions.

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My internship was based at Heratsi Hospital Complex in the Neurosurgery Department where I observed the day-to-day life of doctors. In the mornings, I would join the doctors for the ward round to see all of the inpatients. On these rounds I had the opportunity to ask questions about the long-term care of patients on the ward and find out about the new patients who had come on to the ward the previous day. I was also given the opportunity to observe surgeries. These experiences were a highlight of the trip as they allowed me to see how doctors use their knowledge alongside great technical skill to perform life-changing operations. At the end of one operation to treat a herniated disc in a patient's spinal column, the doctors let me scrub in and get up close to see what the doctors were doing. They even allowed me to assist with stitching up the patient at the end of the surgery. This was my first experience of surgery and is one that will be reminded of whenever I enter an operating theatre in the future.

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The rest of my time in the hospital was spent watching the management of the inpatients and sitting in on consultations with outpatients. Here, I got to see how the knowledge I have learnt so far studying Medicine is applied to real clinical scenarios. The doctors in the department were specialised in Vascular Neurosurgery, so I was able to observe how lesions of different parts of the brain, due to strokes, affect the ability and behaviour of patients. Whenever a new set of scans arrived the doctors would always get me involved, asking questions that tested my knowledge of anatomy and neuroscience. Being in the hospital for six weeks allowed me to see the complete process of treating a patient, from their when they were first admitted to when they were discharged. My time in the hospital was very engaging and reinforced my ambition to become a doctor. It also gave me a lot to think about in terms of potential specialisms in my future career.

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My time in the hospital also gave me a new perspective on health care in other countries and made me think about the differences between the Armenian health care system and the NHS. I am incredibly grateful to all the patients who let me sit in on their consultations and operations and am immensely thankful to the doctors who were always keen to answer my questions and made me feel like part of the team in the hospital.

At weekends, we went on trips to places outside of Yerevan, to get an insight into the history, culture and traditions of Armenia. Our trips to Garni and Khor Virap taught us the ancient history of Armenia, whilst our visit to the Genocide Memorial taught me about the mordern history. These trips were very informative as my knowledge of the country's history was limited before coming. We also met President Armen Sarkissian, who told us Armenia's plans for the future.​

Alongside all this, we took evening lessons in the Armenian language and Armenian dance, the latter of which culminated in a performance!

My time in Armenia gave me a wide range of experiences that immersed me in a new culture, which was at first foreign and unfamiliar but quickly became warm and welcoming. The experience has taught me a great deal about Armenia and has given me lots to think about with regards to my own future career.

I will watch with interest and curiosity the future development of Armenia and I hope to visit again so I can see the changes for myself.

This internship programme is generously supported by Grace Knadjian Davidian, in honour of her brother Dikran Knadjian (1970), who disappeared in 1972. Dikran came to Queens' from Kingswood School, Bath, to read Medicine. He travelled to Yosemite National Park during his summer vacation at the end of his second year but did not return to his accommodation in the Park following his hike.

This fully-funded internship in Armenia is available to second-year Queens' medical students every year. For more information on applying to the scheme, please contact Dr Laurence Tiley, Director of Studies in Medicine & Veterinary Medicine (lst21@cam.ac.uk).

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Alice Webster acw69@cam.ac.uk and 01223 (7)46980

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