Geriatrics: An Unintended Journey - Page 4


That six month journey changed my life and attitudes towards education and adventure. The last part of the journey which was spent in Copenhagen, much of it in the company of a group of primarily female medical students helped formulate my determination to study medicine on the other side of the Atlantic rather than in the United States which would have been part of the “normal” chain of events. The experience overseas also exposed me to a whole new world of “other” than what were the traditional values and cultural mores and practices of America. I broke the news of my idea of studying overseas to my parents and couched the reasoning into financial terms which was one of the factors that allowed them to agree to consider the proposition. As a reflection of their progressive view of the world, the agreement stipulated a tentative agreement to include having my then 16 year old sister visit me during my fist summer to travel in Europe with me.

My original plan to study in Denmark or other Scandinavian country fell through but I was very fortunate in being accepted to the University of St. Andrews, Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world, founded in 1413 with the medical school being founded in 1450 somewhat after Oxford and before Cambridge in England. I was very fortunate to have been accepted a year earlier than initially anticipated and into second year because of my pre-medical education at Brooklyn College because as I only found out after my first year when my class-mates felt comfortable telling me, one of their classmates died in first year, leaving an empty place in second year. That vacant place went to me so from the tragedy of one young medical school student’s premature death, my future opened up- a bitter-sweet tale when told to me by a few of my closest class-mates.

Medical School in Dundee, Geddes Quadrangle

Medical school in Dundee where the medical was actually situated was wonderful. Once I accommodated to the dreary gray weather, the strong at times unintelligible Dundee accent, the paucity of any food worth eating other than fish and chips and the damp cold of the housing, I had a fabulous experience. The main point of my studying abroad was to travel and indeed with almost five months off a year and a system where medical students could choose places to go and get foreign experience based on place, area of study and time I managed over the years to travel and work in Scandinavia, various Eastern and Western European countries, different places in the United Kingdom, and what became another seminal experience in my life, Israel.

I was exposed to geriatric medicine as a medical student where the Geriatric rotation and ward proved to be one of my favorites because of the instructors and wonderful experience with the “old wifies” as the elderly Scottish ladies were called. One of the geriatric wards in Maryfield Hospital was made of a large room with a potbelly stove at its centre and in the evening all those women patients who could sat around in their easy chairs, drinking tea, chatting and knitting- it was a glorious warm vision and experience as they just loved us young medical students.

Following a student placement in obstetrics and gynecology in Haifa Israel I unexpectedly won the prize in Obstetrics and Gynecology in my final year based on my final examination. The 500 pound sterling prize allowed me to return to Haifa for a 5 month internship on the