2022. February 28.
Earlier this year, I had the unique opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and study medicine at the LAC + USC Medical Center. The experience was rich in clinical knowledge, but it also gave me an insight into American life and culture.
I started the program at the Augustus Hawkins Mental Health Center, one of the largest inpatient psychiatric hospitals in California. Each day began with a pre-round, where together with the medical students, we reviewed what had happened the night before, read nursing notes and patient charts. I then spent time with each patient to assess their problems, examine them, perform a mental status exam, and note anything they might need to help their recovery. Once I had collected all elements of the clinical picture, I presented them at the rounds. During this, I met all the doctors and the care team (occupational therapist, recreational therapist, nursing staff and security) and we discussed the patient's case in detail and decided on the best therapy. I found this extremely useful as I needed to keep my knowledge of the patient up to date and I also had to take into account the differential diagnosis. It also gave me the opportunity to be very hands-on in my clinical cases and to be involved in diagnostic tests, imaging and treatment procedures.
Every Friday, key note lectures were given by the residents on a research topic for everyone in the department to attend. I really enjoyed these lectures because it encouraged me to read more about cases that I may not have known enough about. I hope to continue this approach throughout my medical career.
I would like to become an ENT specialist so I visited the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology where I had the opportunity to learn a bit about this specialty. The work here was very different from psychiatry in that the hours were longer: even at weekends, the shifts started at 5 am and often ended late at night. In the mornings, we met the patients who had been operated on earlier, changed the wound dressings and then went straight to the operating theatre. I am mainly interested in implantation and ear reconstruction surgeries, so due to the limited time I assisted mostly in these surgeries. But, this department performs the most head and neck 'oncological flap' surgeries in the state of California and I was lucky enough to be involved in those as well. What I found very interesting is that the residents and medical students have to follow the patients through their case and stay with them from the beginning of anesthesia to wake up. A good knowledge of anatomy is essential. Each case has to be very well known and understood in order to know what instruments might be needed during the surgery and they have to be available for the surgeon.
I spent most of the time at the hospital, but I also had the opportunity to see the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, Long Beach, Venice Beach and Malibu Beach. I tried new foods and discovered a new taste for ice cream, salt & straw in Venice Beach and Korean BBQ in the Korean district of Los Angeles.
I hope to return one day and learn more and see more of the world.