Influencing career paths | Every day
Photo by Virginia Hughes
March 15, 2023
UD students see operations for the first time during Winter Session study abroad in Spain
On her second day in pediatrics at the Mérida Hospital in Spain, Shannon Eberle was chatting with a doctor when she was forced to drop everything to help an 8-month-old child who was suffering from recurrent seizures.
“They put him on his side and put him on high-flow oxygen,” Eberle recalled. “That day, he had five more seizures.”
During the winter session Mérida was looking at teaching hospital physicians with a concentration in medical diagnosis (PA) (MDD-Pre-PA) as part of the University of Delaware’s first study abroad trip. Merida For the first time, Eberle saw the diagnostic process unfold.
“He had an MRI to rule out brain tumors, which was clear,” Eberle said. “He didn’t have a fever, so that rules out febrile seizures.”
Then he saw a lumbar puncture, and thanks to his UD Body Fluid Analysis class, he knew exactly what he was looking at.
“They were looking at the color and texture of the cerebrospinal fluid and knowing what normal cerebrospinal fluid looks like, it was interesting to read the test results and compare that,” Eberle said.
The child’s glucose levels were normal, thus ruling out a bacterial infection, and doctors suspected a viral infection was causing the seizures, so they started the child on the antiviral Acyclovir.
“It was interesting to see the process of elimination that led to the diagnosis,” Eberle said. “Through my Clinical Immunology and Virology at UD I was able to identify some antibodies and that gave me meaning to the diagnosis. That’s what I was seeing and it was the first class that helped me understand what elevated white blood cells meant in this case.”
That’s the kind of application Virginia Hughes, associate professor of medicine and molecular science, wants to see.
“The classes they take serve as a foundation, and in education we want students to apply that knowledge,” Hughes said. “By observing the abdominal perforation, Shannon was able to analyze the significance of these results and align them with the patient’s diagnosis.”
The next week, Eberle switched shifts to shadow doctors in another specialty, but texted a classmate to ask about the baby.
“He was still hospitalized at the time, so they’re still trying to figure it out. It breaks my heart because I wanted to see it,” Eberle said.
Someday, she and her classmates will have the opportunity to see cases as they pursue a career in the health profession.
Hughes led the University’s first trip to Mérida, which included more than a dozen students from the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Health Sciences. Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Experience, collaboration AtlantisIt coincided with the centennial of UD’s study abroad program, the first such program in the US.
“The medical staff at this teaching hospital has done a great job of making sure our students see as much as they can and get the best education they can, and I think that’s really special,” Hughes said. “It’s almost like a culture of fellowship of its own.”
The study abroad experience, like so many others, also included visits to other cities, including Caceres and Trujillo, where students saw preserved ancient Roman ruins, tried new foods, tasted exotic wines, and immersed themselves in rich culture. But what makes this trip stand out is the opportunity for students to see the differences between the two healthcare systems first hand, as part of their own. International Health Practice. For most, it was their first time in an operating room, a memorable moment that cemented the path forward for that medical school.
“One of the reasons I came on this trip was to figure out what specialty I’m really called for,” Yasmine Awayes said. “I’m very interested in the hospital environment, especially surgery.”
Awayes, a senior diagnostician in the process of applying to medical school, jumps at the chance to join hospitals. Bayhealth Hospital Kent Campus stepped up to process COVID-19 tests during the omicron boom. But the trip to Mérida was the first time he saw an operation up close.
“I remember asking the local hospitals if I could observe an operation, and they never gave me permission, so that was what I was most looking forward to abroad, and it didn’t disappoint,” Awayes said.
Awayes witnessed an operation to remove colon cancer and liked the feeling of being inside an operating room.
“I always had the impression that the environment inside the OR was strict, but it was friendly and relaxed,” Awayes said. “Doctors work as a team and have a strong relationship. It’s really satisfying.”
Carter Erickson, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience who planned to attend medical school, saw 17 surgeries in one week in the trauma unit.
“I had never been in an OR, so it taught me a lot about teamwork, and luckily the doctors let us get close enough to see what was going on,” Erickson said. “It was an amazing experience.”
Kristelle Juhasz, a junior biology Major, who also wants to go to medical school, was grateful for the opportunity to learn from her neighbors.
“I’ve had no experience interacting with medical students,” Juhasz said. “I see myself in many of them, and seeing how a person progresses to become a doctor helps to humanize the profession.”
Hughes said study abroad trips are viewed favorably by medical school admissions committees.
“The more diverse the portfolio, the more competitive you are,” Hughes said. “If your portfolio includes a trip abroad where you had the opportunity to shadow doctors and observe surgeries, it definitely gives you a competitive edge.”
Aidan Keener, high school biology teacher pre-medi track, spent most of his time in internal medicine. In rheumatology, he discovered the power of patient consultation.
“I had a lot of positive interactions with patients,” he said. “I’ve learned to personalize consultations and not only show an interest in your patient’s life, but show that you care about their entire life.”
For students like Awayes and others majoring in the Department of Medical and Molecular Sciences (MMSC), participating in the World Scholars Program requires careful planning to ensure all prerequisites are met. But UD’s Winter Session offers MMSC students a unique opportunity.
“A major challenge for MDD-Pre-PA students is gaining patient contact and shadowing hours,” Hughes said. “Although this trip does not include patient contact hours, a significant advantage of this experience abroad is that it includes 75 shadow hours during the Winter session, fulfilling this requirement. It is also a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about the universal health model used in many European countries.”
Esther Biswas-Fiss, MMSC Department Chair, emphasized the importance of a global perspective for aspiring health professionals whether they choose to work in a laboratory or a hospital.
“The Department of Medical and Molecular Sciences’ global health study abroad program demonstrates that UD’s MMSC programs are achieving their goal of training the next generation of leaders in the fields of science and medicine,” said Biswas-Fiss. “Cultural competency is a critical component of a college education and essential in healthcare. That the MMSC Department is part of a tradition that connects our students with people and places on another continent is very gratifying and a testament to the outstanding faculty and staff who educate our students.”
Through her experience abroad, Ellie O’Keefe, a sophomore in the MDD-Pre-PA track, learned that she is interested in specializing in cardiology.
“The doctors in the cardiology department took the time to explain each EKG and echocardiogram to make sure I knew exactly what I was seeing,” O’Keefe said.
According to him, the willingness of doctors to teach, even in the midst of severe language barriers, has not been surprising.
“I didn’t expect at all to be standing next to the chief surgeon while he was lasering out a tumor in someone’s throat,” O’Keefe said. “That was by far one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.”
For O’Keefe and Eberle, the trip to Spain was also their first time abroad in Europe.
“American life can be in a bubble, and it’s important when opportunities like this arise, especially within our majors, to learn about other cultures because it opens our perspective, makes us better healthcare professionals, and forces us to burst that bubble,” O’ said. by Keef.