Student Reflection by Mutai Frank (2014)

Toronto August/September 2014

Mutai Frank, 5th year medical student at Moi University, College of Health Sciences

First I would like to thank the Almighty God for granting me this life time opportunity to visit such a wonderful country. Before travelling to Toronto I did not exactly know what to expect.

Obviously culture shock was one thing I constantly thought of. I knew I was going to a different place. I knew I was going to meet different people, experience different weather, food, culture and of course, technology. I was looking forward to seeing the subways, super high ways and then tall buildings.

During the long journey to Toronto, in which we took off and landed in 2 different airplanes, I had much to think about and I soon decided that I was going to try my best to not only do well in the hospital, but also to learn about Toronto by travelling to the many historic and beautiful sites.

To start with, my hospital experience is probably the best thing to have happened in my academic life. I cannot deny the fact that the process of labor is the same whether you are an Asian, Caucasian or an African. But the environment around it is totally different here from what I am used to. What is exactly different here? First, Patients in labor in Canada get to ‘enjoy’ the process of labor. They feel less pain because of the epidural which is not provided in Kenya. Secondly patient care here is top notch. I was surprised to see a whole consultant doing a vaginal delivery an act done by a nurse or a medical student in Kenya.
Moreover, Patients in Canada are generally informed. They are aware of their conditions and so they tend to ask a lot of questions. I n addition, age in pregnancy is also a big difference between the two countries. Patients in labor are abit older than those back at home. Almost all of them use epidural for pain control. That’s probably the reason why the delivery rooms are quiet since they don’t scream. The use of electronic system to store patient information is also a different thing. The OB Tv and the Powerchart to me, provides a simpler and convenient way of monitoring the patients progress in labor. I really look forward to the day when at will be introduced at our hospital!

Also, health care providers are awesome people. Nurses are friendly and ready to help whenever necessary. Nothing beats the trust a physician has on a medical student. And that’s why I had an opportunity to perform many procedures; deliveries, suturing, charting patients and many others. The few occasions I was on call gave me an invaluable opportunity to be more with the patients and to learn various aspects of patient management. Never have I worked with such a funny Physician like Dr. Farine. Dr. Ori Nevo, Dr. Czikk, and Dr. Howard Cohen also deserve a special mention for their teachings and guidance throughout my time in clinics, ward and theatre. I had a ‘brother’ in Dr. Ibrahim whom we spent majority of my time both at Sinai and Sunnybrook. Not forgetting Nurse Maxeen Newman for her orientation through the labor and delivery during my first day at Sinai.

I had an opportunity to attend the Fertility Clinic and I learnt a lot of things. One major observation that I made there is how patients are very desperate to get kids and are even willing to do anything to have them. I was really humbled and thanked God keeping in mind the size of my family.

The grand rounds, Papsin rounds, Journal clubs and Tumor board meetings provided me with fantastic learning opportunity. The surgical skills centre improved my skills after I spent a whole day there. I would have loved to spend a day at the colposcopy clinic but was not scheduled so I recommend that those who will come after us be considered since it’s a common procedure.

Outside the hospital I also learnt many things. To begin with, I realized that Canada is a multicultural city with people from different parts of the world. That’s probably why most of them are hospitable and willing to help whenever necessary. People don’t scramble into trains or buses here. They also keep time (thank God I left my African time mentality at home). I enjoyed using the Subway. It was fun! Riding around the city was also interesting. The food here is of different variety but I enjoyed pizza and also Tawook and Shushi just to mention a few. The visit to Niagara falls, Peaches and apple picking was one of my best outing here and of course I will have a story to tell back at home.

However, my electives didn’t go through without a few challenges here and there. First, I didn’t know that there is a Kenyan accent and so whenever I spoke people had to ask me to repeat because they didn’t get what I was saying. Secondly, I had one case where a patient could allow me to clerk her although generally all patients were fantastic.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Rachel Spitzer for her hospitality. Thank you very much for guiding us throughout the electives and making it a success. Thank you for the time we spent with the family. God bless you abundantly. I also thank George Joe and Aaron Yarmoshuk for their efforts. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the staff of Mount Sinai Hospital and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for their support and guidance during our electives.

Thank you all and may God bless you.