Student Reflection by Austin Jauyo

University Of Toronto April/May 2010

Austin Jauyo, 5th year medical student at Moi University, School of Medicine

Where do I begin? Probably, as you may know, being granted an elective experience in a world- class institution far away from home is a chance of a lifetime. I feel so lucky to have gotten this rare opportunity at University of Toronto. It couldn’t any better. I received communication later that I would be placed at St. Michael’s Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital. When I got the news in January, my family, friends and I were so excited, happy and thankful to God and to the sponsors of Mengech Scholars. I knew from the onset that it would be a great opportunity to anchor my interest in ObGyn and the medical profession as a whole. I felt honored to share this unique experience with Frank Mutai, a very dedicated colleague.

Over the following months, our travel arrangements and registration at UofT were smoothly coordinated by Mr. Aaron Yarmoshuk, Sarah Mamlin, Dr. Rachel Spitzer and the electives office at UofT. I was particularly impressed by the constant communication via emails to address our concerns. Unlike previous years, our online visa applications were processed promptly and we never had to travel to Nairobi for interviews and medical exams. I pray that would be the same for those who would come after us.

Our travel on the August 13th from JKIA in Nairobi to the Pearson Airport in Toronto via Heathrow Airport in London was uneventful. Though no one could make it to pick us from the airport, we were given very clear directions. Initially, the thought of finding our way to the hotel room where we would stay filled me with apprehension. I would soon discover that, slightly unlike home, the system was fool-proof with streets very clearly marked. Moreover, our Aerofleet Limo driver was nice and resourceful.

Of course Joe and Rachel would be there to help us check in at our residence, Town Inn Suites 620 Church Street. We had a pleasurable stay. I particularly loved the swimming pool. That we had a kitchen where we could occasionally prepare a Kenyan dish was great. We settled in pretty fast with the unending help of Mr. Joe George. My orientation at SMH went smoothly through the coordination of Charlotte Aziz and Dr. Matoglio. Sylvia Muir coordinated our joint orientation at MSH.

Over the following five weeks, two and a half at each hospital, I had the most amazing work experience. I rotated in labour and delivery, colposcopy clinics, high and low risk prenatal clinics, ultrasound, maternal fetal medicine, operating rooms for gynecologic surgeries and c- sections, family medicine, fertility centre, urogynecology clinic, gynoncology clinic and the surgical skills centre. Apart from the low risk clinic, all these areas provided a new learning experience since some of the procedures are not easily available or routinely available in Kenya. In addition, the daily seminars with the third year medical students were very educative and the grand rounds on Fridays quite enlightening. The Powerchart was frightening at first but I came to love it very much.

Frankly, each of my rotation areas was superb! I would spend a generation to note down every detail. The learning and working environment was exceptionally conducive and professional. I particularly loved labor and delivery. The night calls and the 24-hour calls were full of interesting activity but taxing at the same time. The attending staff never failed to treat us to a fabulous dinner. That was new and exciting, what a fantastic way to begin a night call. I was so happy to actively triage patients, perform speculum exams and cervical assessments, and conduct a few deliveries under supervision. A day at the Surgical Skills Centre helped me sharpen my skills which later became very useful in the OR as a CS assistant. I also had the chance to collect pap smears. There was no better way to cap my clinical activities on 17th September with Dr. Barry Rosen in the Gyneoncology clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital.
It was not all work in Toronto. Everybody is out for fun in summer. The city is full of magnificent structures, just to mention a few I liked: the CN Tower, Toronto Eaton Centre, Rogers Centre. Thanks to the lovely Dr. Martoglio, any day I was off duty I would bike around the city at least 20 km. Having been brought up in Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria, I loved the beaches though they were uniquely different with lots of fun activities. The festivals were exhilarating. The Air Show on Labor Day was incredible. Sadly, I never made it to the Ripleys Aquarium.

Honestly, nothing was more fantastic than the days spent with Dr. Rachel’s family at the Niagara Falls, peach picking at Cherry Avenue Farm, apple picking at the Applewood farm. These are unheard of experiences in Kenya. The dinners we had at her house later were outstanding, with the ‘fruits of our labour’. We always had a wonderful time. We are still talking about the potluck dinner and movie- “No Woman No Cry” with the Global Health Interest Group at Dr. Okun’s house. She is so nice. Many thanks to Christe and Julie for the treat at Banjara Indian Cuisine.

I have enjoyed my time with great people and will dearly miss Toronto. Thank you for all your support, love and insights you provided me in my carrier. I hope to visit again, God willing.