2018. január 30., kedd

First steps as an American citizen in the program

I arrived in Buffalo late at night on a Thursday because I was told I’d have to show up at the North Campus of University at Buffalo to do some paperwork on Friday. If any of you are American citizens and therefore don’t need a visa and also have your own American health insurance, know that you don’t have to arrive on the Thursday before your rotations begin, because you don’t have to show up on Friday to do extra paperwork. You can arrive the day before your rotations, if you’d like. I wish I had been told this before I booked my flight because I missed some important family events that weekend for no reason, and changing it at that point would have cost me $500. That being said, I’m content with arriving when I did because it gave me extra time to get settled in comfortably and adjust to the time change.

The first weekend we were here my roommates and I rented a car and drove up to Niagara Falls (the Canadian side, which everyone says is better). It was freezing cold but just as beautiful as everyone says it is. We also managed to take a trip to Philadelphia and Atlantic City one weekend. And in two weeks I’ll be spending the weekend in Toronto. If you’re here in the winter, my advice is to dress warm! I’m from Las Vegas, which is all desert, and our winters aren’t very cold. Before I came to Buffalo I purchased good snow boots that are waterproof and a down jacket. That was the best decision I made in all of 2017. I can’t say how much I appreciate having dry, warm feet while walking through the snow every morning on the way to the hospital.

The apartment is pretty spacious and has a nice view. I have to say the pictures on the HMAA website are quite outdated. When my roommates and I arrived, we rearranged the furniture because it made absolutely no sense, threw a lot of broken things away that were just taking up space and cluttering the apartment, and cleaned the entire kitchen because it really needed it. I think throughout the years other students have just left things here and it’s piled up. There are plenty of extra lab coats here, so if you don’t want to spend money on a new one, you can get away with using the ones that are left here. Bringing towels and bed sheets is also not required as there are plenty here, just don’t expect them to match. I haven't had any problems with the washers and dryers downstairs, but was told that sometimes the dryer may rip holes in your clothes, so for the most part we hang dry our clothes.

The walk to the Oishei Children’s Hospital, Buffalo General Hospital, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Vascular Institute takes thirty minutes one way. Even in the dead of Buffalo’s winter, I have to say it’s a nice walk. You have time to clear your head before arriving and the cold is a nice refresher that wakes you up. If the weather is really bad, I’ll just take an uber, but that doesn’t happen often. Also, everyone I’ve met in Buffalo is super nice. If you’re lucky enough to have rotations with American medical students, a lot of times they’ll offer to drive you home when the weather is bad.

Even though I am from the States, I’ve never spent time in the Northern East Coast. This program gives you an opportunity to travel to some cool nearby cities, just make sure you let your supervisors know if you are going to be missing a day, and don’t do it often. My first rotation was pediatric neurology. If you do neurology, know that it is the only rotation I know of that we can do that is set up the same as the American medical students. Meaning you start the rotation with a meeting with them and the physician that is in charge of their rotation. You receive a neurology book to help you study (it must be returned at the end of the month), are given a monthly schedule that shows when you’ll have lectures throughout the week, and you’ll have a test the last day of the rotation. For the neurology rotation, we were allowed three days off, so I use that as my general rule for all of the rotations. Just as a heads up, I wouldn’t recommend saying you’ll be missing a day because you’re traveling, so have a back up plan when you let them know.

My first rotation was pediatric neurology. The residents and attendings I worked with could not have been nicer. Most of what you’ll see in that rotation are epilepsy patients. Each rotation is different in regards to when they want you to show up and when they will let you go home. For my peds neuro rotation, I arrived at 8:30 am and was usually let go by 3 pm. I’m now in neurosurgery and have to arrive at 6 am and leaving is basically up to me, which so far is around 4 pm. Those residents work insanely hard and it isn’t in their headspace to tell you when to go to lunch or go home. So just use your best judgment when it comes to that. I usually have lunch when a case in the OR ends around a decent lunch hour and then head back to the OR to see what case I’ll go into next. Almost all of your time is spent in the OR for this rotation, so if you like the OR, this is the place for you!

All in all, this program gives you a great opportunity to see how the American medical system works, learn a lot, network, and see the US. Because I plan on working in the US after school, I can't say how fortunate and appreciative I am for the opportunity. Doing rotations like this on your own costs a couple grand a month and is hard to afford. I also have gotten to meet some really cool Hungarian students that I never would have met otherwise. You build a really nice friendship and camaraderie with the people you'll do the program with, which is probably the greatest gift the program will give you.

21. January 2018

Stephanie Zority

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