Incoming student experiences

We have collected here the impressions students from our partner universities that have come to Sydney. Some impressions are long, some are short – all have had only minor editing in an attempt to maintain the students’ voice. They are all unique, some quite personal, all worth reading no matter where you choose to do your placement.

We hope that you enjoy reading about there (and here) and that this gives you just a hint of the international experiences - both professional and cultural - that you can have as a part of the Sydney Medical School as a visitor from our partner universities.

Incoming Hoc Mai Vietnamese student impressions

Please go the Hoc Mai website to view incoming student impression from Hoc Mai Vietnamese students.

All other incoming student impressions of Sydney Medical School

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2010 | 2009



Huda Amilina from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, undertook a 4 week exchange placement in July 2016.

Having a chance to be an exchange student in Sydney University is like a dream come true for me. I still remember how I spent the night to write the motivation letter and fill in the application form from my university’s international office to apply for this exchange program. After knowing that I would come to Sydney, I counted down the days, I was so excited! When I finally arrived at Sydney, I already knew that I would enjoy my 4 weeks here. I’m in love with Sydney at the first sight.

I had to go to Northern clinical school in Royal North Shore Hospital. Every clinical day, I always got new experiences and learnt so many things. I learnt some cases that I won’t meet easily in my home country, such as cystic fibrosis, eissenmenger syndrome, and toxic shock syndrome. It was a really great thing to learn about interesting cases from the experts here. After learning in this medical school, I realize that I have to practice more and more before I become a doctor, so I won’t make mistakes that will harm the patient. How to communicate and how to take a patient history professionally also was an important aspect that I learnt here.


My favorite cultural thing here is, everyone respects the opinion of others. It’s such a great thing that you can discuss your opinion and the other’s opinion open-mindedly. I also learnt that the senior doctors are really professional in teaching the medical students, I can see that the doctors really want the students to be a good doctor like them.

Besides the exciting moments, I also had some challenging things here. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what people talk about when they speak fast so I have to learn the language and the medical aspects as well. The education system is really different from my home university, sometimes I was so confused with the system but the students here were really helpful. In addition, this is my first time travelling alone, it was so challenging to use the public transportation here which is so different in my home country.

Overall, this exchange program is an unforgettable experience for me. I’m so lucky to have this chance.


Michael Aliwarga from Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, undertook a 4 week exchange placement in July 2016.

During my medical electives in Northern Clinical School and The University of Sydney Medical School, I've encountered several good topics on how to deal with physical examination of thorax for respiratory, dealing with patients history and problem regarding occupation, examination of patients with pneumonia from mild until severe yet life-threatening malaria, examination of patients with COPD non exacerbation, also always remember that CXR is one of the best supporting exams when we have to deal with patients with ongoing respiratory problems.

I've also enjoyed my time with Dr Grace Kwok every week and she was my supervisor in Northern clinical school. She taught us how to take a good occupational history, anamnesis for patients with chronic cough and dyspnoea, taking the history of patients with respiratory tract infection especially pneumonia, and patients with sleeping disorder, how to use spirometry and we were also taught to use peak flow chart, how to give medication such as reliever, preventer, symptom controller, and combination medications, also how to use Metered Dose Inhaler, Spacers, turbuhaler, accuhaler, autohaler and aerolizer which we also commonly use in Indonesia.

On the main campus, I did Problem Based Learning (PBL) sessions which were good for me since I noticed that PBL is one of the keys to become a self-directed learner and to be a good doctor. In PBL sessions we encountered several cases such as nasty cough and scenarios regarding cystic fibrosis. Through lectures and seminars, we studied further about respiratory tract infection, cystic fibrosis, how to be a good doctor and dealing with indigenous people. And I loved the practical sessions! We've studied anatomical of muscles in respiratory, the arches, bony structures around head and neck, also the anatomy of eye, ears, and lungs and tracheal branches. I loved the SMS practical sessions as we could have direct contact with the teachers and the cadaver itself. Vivos mortui docent! I also loved the pathology practical sessions, especially the lung tumour since they have both gross and microscopic preparations which are nicely prepared by the pathology experts. I also love to use the microscope with the application inside the computer. We did anatomical practical sessions in the Anderson Stuart Building, while pathology practical sessions in Charles Perkin Centre Dry Teaching Room Level 1. I will always remember the cranial nerves classes of Professor John Mitrofanis, as it was an interesting one! And also case lectures on Cystic Fibrosis! Wow, awesome! We haven't that lecture in Indonesia because of the low epidemiology of that case.

Thanks for all the opportunities given, I do appreciate it. I will miss the warm welcome of the Clinical School and OGH staff.


Chanthy Srun from University of Health Sciences Cambodia undertook a clinical placement at Nepean Hospital in 2016

I was both excited and nervous at the same time after knowing that I was selected for a four-week clinical placement at the University of Sydney. To be honest, I was afraid that I was not able to cope with the hospital and my living there because it was the first time for me to travel abroad. However, my nervousness was suddenly gone after I arrived Sydney because of a friendly welcome and help at the airport from Veronica, a project administrator of this program. After the flight, I spent one night in Sydney and went sightseeing the city.

The day after, I took a train to Nepean Hospital where I had to spend four weeks working there. On the third night upon my arrival, I spent time with other electives from other countries. By spending my four weeks in Paediatrics department at Nepean Hospital, University of Sydney, I can gain many precious experiences. I have had a great opportunity to stay in a foreign hospital and travel such a long trip by myself. Moreover, I am very delighted to learn more about the medical care system in Australia, especially, participating in different sections of Clinic outpatient, such as behavioral paediatric clinic, general paediatric clinic, growth and developmental paediatric clinic with registrars and professors who provide me a chance to do practice more about medical terms. Besides, I also joined tutorial classes and journal clubs, which help improve my medical knowledge. I really have a great time there because of their genuinely warm welcome and helpful for me to have such enriching experiences.

Even I was an oversea medical student, I still have a chance to join all activities in the hospital the same as Australian students. We took turn with each other to work in various parts of Paediatric department: outpatient, postnatal, emergency department, and paediatric ward. With such provision, I was able to get involved as much as other students, which meant a lot to me. In addition, living in the provided accommodation was both safe and convenient. I could meet other elective international students, particular my lovely suite mate who always helped me when I was in need.

For my first weekend, I was extremely excited to visit Blue Mountain with Cathy and Brian. They took me around the mountain to see the whole view of it. The second weekend, I was invited to their house to celebrate the Easter day together. It was so much fun because we were able to have lunch together, played game, and shared the happy moment together. I also spent my free time to explore around the city. I went to Opera House, Zoo, Harbour Bridge, Life sea, Sydney tower, Sydney wildlife, Manly sea, and other wonderful places. I got many great experiences according to this travel. I have never taken a train and ferry cross the sea before. However, after experiencing these in Sydney, it was fantastic for me. Additionally, I was able eat the Australia, China, and thai food. During Good Friday, I went to Fish market with my friends. I was very joyful because I was able to eat fresh food, particularly, some of kind of seafood I have never tried in my country.

Finally, I would like to give thanks to program coordinators, generous sponsors, and other related individuals, who provide such great opportunity for me to experience working in Nepean Hospital in this highly developed country, Australia. This is invaluable for me and it has become a path for me to develop myself to be a good doctor in the future.


Bunrong Srun from University of Health Sciences Cambodia undertook a clinical placement at Concord Hospital in 2016

It had been a great honor to be selected as an elective student to take a 4 weeks clinical placement at Concord Repatriation General Hospital (CRGH) in Australia. Throughout my stay, I found it very challenging not only in the clinical placement but also the living standard; in Sydney, there are lots of things that are uncommon to me. I admitted that 4 weeks there, was amazing; I’ve got the chance to learn a lot about the Australian standards of treatment and have witness the surgery procedure which not familiar in my country. What I love about this clinical placement is that I had the chance to learn more about Ophthalmology for the purpose of pursuing a dream to be an Ophthalmologist. After going through the training, it had opened my mind to many new possibilities for the future of my studies.

Up on my arrival to Sydney, it was Lindsey and her friend who came to pick me up from the airport. I was thrilled to see her for I don’t know what to do or where to go. After arrived at CRGH, I had been instructed to meet with Johnny who had been a really great help during stay there, he taught me how to use the transportation, where to go, and what to do. The next day, I had an orientation with other elective students from oversea as well, our instructor was Ms. Wendy, and she took us to our department and introduced us to the head doctor. We always had the weekend to ourselves, for love to explore and visit new places.

It was a little bit lonely by myself, until one of my colleague arrived; I was with Veronica waiting for the arrival of Chanthy Srun to Sydney. I was happy to see her for she had been helping us during the preparation before coming to Australia. She took us around the city a bit before dropped us at Chanthy’s place.


The weekend we had the chance to see Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, we went to the Blue Mountain and had a stop on the way which I coincidentally met a family of Cambodian there who open a bakery store. That trip was amazing, we were on top of the Blue Mountain, enjoyed a little walk around and the beautiful scenery of the Three Sisters and we also took the cable car to get a better view of the landscape. The next weekend was the Easter’s Holiday, we had a great lunch at the Jacksons, we played Bingo, Easter egg hunt and made the masks with Cathy and Brian’s grandchildren. Cathy and Brian are very kind; I wish I could somehow show them my gratitude for what they have done. I do enjoy my stay thank to them both.

Overall, I don’t think I had much problems staying there for I had many helps along the way. I’ve learnt more from clinical training. I’ve witnessed new cultures. I’ve seen new people. I feel grateful for what I’ve been through.


Carmen Stellar from Weill Cornell Medical College undertook a clinical placement at Royal North Shore Hospital in 2016

After having completed my Pathology rotation, I have an even stronger belief in the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to medical care. It is critical for a clinician to develop relationships with specialists and consultants in other fields in order to deliver the highest level of patient care. After having completed my rural rotation, I am better able to appreciate the ways in which a patient’s racial/ethnic background can contribute to the natural progression of disease (i.e. diabetes tends to progress to end stage renal disease much more rapidly in Aboriginal populations that in White Australian populations). I am also increasingly sensitive to cultural and geographic barriers which can influence a patient’s ability to access medical care. I was impressed by Australia’s approach to providing healthcare to rural populations via outreach clinics, telemedicine, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service.


The only logistical challenges I faced were with the rural placement, which was originally meant to be at Broken Hill, and then fluctuated between Lismore, Orange, and Dubbo. I had a wonderful time in Dubbo, but I think it might be easier to coordinator directly with consultants who are interested in supervising international students. Dr. Fiore Chapman was absolutely wonderful, and I would absolutely recommend working with her to other students interested in a rural rotation.


Igor Mihajlovic from University of Toronto, undertook a clinical placement at Royal North Shore Hospital in 2016

These rotations allowed me to improve my technical skills and knowledge in areas that I felt were particularly weak without the concern of the impact of evaluations. Skills were improved in a non-judgemental environment that provided enough instruction and supervision, but also adequate freedom.

It was interesting for me to learn that even in a fellow Commonwealth country that shares a common language and (to some extent) common history, the differences in cultural practices may be vast. This rotation allowed me to appreciate the need to take cultural factors into account in day-to-day functioning with patients and staff. Understanding that the English language itself may be misunderstood between two primary english speakers gave me a new perspective.

The challenges were predominantly in organizing the logistics of housing, transport, etc in Sydney whilst living in Canada. Upon landing in Sydney, the process became much simpler.



Merlin Jacobs from Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences, undertook a clinical placement at Nepean Hospital in 2015

The University of Sydney offered me the unique opportunity to work in a multicultural environment at one of the world’s leading universities, through elective postings in my area of interest and opening doors to the international research community as well. I got to know and experience a whole new system of medical education and medical care.

It was a total of 8 weeks in O&G and Pediatrics at Nepean hospital, a public hospital in Penrith (Western Sydney). Although, there were not as many cases as I would see in India, the history, presentations and complications of the patients here was certainly different. I also noticed the fact that treatment lines were much based on evidence and trials from researches-evidence based management. As there were very few patients who walked in for consultation without a prior appointment, doctors had enough time for each patient on the list, resolving each of their queries and concerns and kept both the doctor and patient content. Right from the top, the consultants, fellows and registrars were always willing to explain and discuss cases, allowed me to examine patients and they also encouraged me to see patients by myself.

The first 4 weeks I spent in O&G was mainly in the out-patient clinic attending multiple specialty clinics one after the other. I attended various clinics in O&G including high risk ANC, Acute gynae clinic, infertility, colposcopy, renal, urogynae etc. I would also spend extra time in the birthing unit as well as in the operation theatre observing initially and then assisting in every case possible. Unlike my home-school where we as doctors are expected to conduct deliveries ourselves, it was the midwives who took over that responsibility here.

To my advantage there were not many local students at that time and hence no crowding. Even if there were other local students, they did consider us equally and gave each one of us a turn in both clinics and theatres. The work environment was very relaxed with a bunch of friendly and always ready-to help people. The work load and tension seemed much lesser than what I am exposed to, which could be because of the number of patients/day- which I liked.

In Paediatrics rotation, as there were no specialty clinics every day, I used to attend handover, discuss cases in the ward, attend rounds, take cases and present them, conduct baby checks etc. I attended various clinics like the behavioral clinic, growth and development clinics, allergy clinics, genetics etc.

This exposure to the outside world has been a fabulous experience for me. Though it was not considered as a part of my internship, I am glad I got this scholarship as I certainly got to learn much more than just management of various cases.


Zhao Lu from Fudan University, China undertook a clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2015

It was very lucky of me that I earned the opportunity to come to do 8 weeks of electives at RPAH in Sydney, 4 weeks of endocrinology and 4 weeks of gastroenterology. This was the first time for me to stay in a foreign hospital and also the first time for me to travel such a long distance all by myself! Actually I felt very excited about this unique experience, from which I saw exotic sceneries and very different medical care system from China.

For the first four weeks I was with the endocrinology team. The doctors and nurses there were very enthusiastic. I spent most of my time in different kinds of outpatient clinics, such as diabetes clinic, endocrine clinic, thyroid clinic, obesity clinic, high risk foot clinic etc. I saw a lot of interesting patients there, and the doctors were very patient to explain the diseases of patients for me and answer my questions. Compared with China, there’re less patients here, so doctors can spend more time with each patient. The doctors cared for the patients in all respects, which impressed me very much.

In the last four weeks, I spent time with the gastroenterology team. Most of the time, I walked around the wards with my registrar. There was also weekly outpatient clinic here. And I also learned about endoscopy in the endoscopy unit sometimes. I learned a lot by doing long case, which was taking medical history and physical examination of a patient by myself and presenting that to the registrar. The patients were very nice. Sometimes I could not communicate with them very well due to my limited English level, however they still cooperated with me in patience.

Sydney is a lovely city. I took a tour to the Blue Mountain, Bondi Beach, Darling Harbor and almost all the famous scenery spots here. I enjoyed the footpath leading to the coast which I could run on in the morning. And I enjoyed the fresh air and the cute birds all around the city. I even attended a course and got the PADI open water certification during the weekends. This was an exciting tour for me.

Ultimately, I want to thank all the lovely people I met in the RPAH. Without their guidance, I could not enjoy a beautiful life here. I really hope to come here again someday!


Lu Chenghao from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a PBL placement with Sydney Medical School in 2015

One month passed by quickly, I really appreciate the time in the University of Sydney. Old campus buildings, modern laboratories, large green lawns and so on, all of these things are attractive to me. Although I can’t attend the clinical study in RPA Hospital, it’s still quite cool for me to have the chance to experience the local medical students’ campus life.

Through the time with the students here, passion, carefulness and kindness is the common spirit I found from them. By the time I arrived in Sydney, I felt being welcomed warmly. Whenever during leisure time, lectures or PBL, these cool guys really helped me a lot. We were also invited to various afterschool activities and clubs by them. The most impressive one might be the birthday party, one house crowded with medical students chatting with each other and ended with the music played by the band made up of students. The night is great, let me see another side of these future doctors.

I also appreciate your students’ seriousness in academic study. Lectures, histology and anatomy lessons, I can always see them raise quite good questions for their tutors to have a good command of the knowledge. And during the PBL, their carefulness made an impact on me. They almost catch every changes in symptoms or examinations, and do their best to figure out why it happened and what’s the potential connection with the disease.

The exchange program gives me a chance to have a view of what do foreign students do every day. Since the pattern of giving knowledge in the two countries is quite different, I have learned a lot which we haven’t taught in China. Meanwhile, the program really practiced my English.

Finally, I really enjoyed the time in Australia. The life here is quite simple but comfortable. A cup of coffee, a little bit sunshine with blue sky that’s an afternoon. The scenery here is also very charming. Manly, Bondi , Taronga zoo and so on are all places worth visiting. I’m sure I will visit Sydney again in the future.


Ye Lisha from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a PBL placement with Sydney Medical School in 2015

When I was told that I had passed the interview and be chosen to this exchange program, I felt excited and worried at the same time. I always wanted to go to Australia, but I couldn’t help worrying about language, food and cultural differences. With complicated emotions, I finally arrived in Sydney and fell in love with this land immediately.

In five weeks, I took part of the Urology block and the Gastroenterology block. Instead of learning courses separately, we had different lectures and seminars based on one PBL case each week. I found it was an efficient way to learn medicine, because students could know a disease well by learning anatomy, radiology, pathology, immunology and other lessons about it in one week. We discussed the PBL case on Monday morning, and came back to the CPC building on Friday afternoon, trying to solve the problems by knowledge we just learned. This procedure really helped the students derive a sense of accomplishment, and keep pace with longer-term study.

The luckiest thing happened in Sydney was that I made many friends here. They were so nice and warm-hearted. They invited the other exchange student and me to some awesome events and a house party. I had a lot of new experiences and memories by taking part in these events. Among all the events, what impressed me most was the donate life week, which made me think about what efforts we should make in our country to increase the donation rate.

In my spare time, I love taking a random bus, letting it take me to a random destination, and I had a lot of surprises by doing this. I was so fascinated to the masterpieces made by nature, like the Gap in Watsons Bay, which I would highly recommend. Museum of Sydney is also a must go place. I had chance to know history of Australia and Australian Aboriginal culture there.

I wish I could go to clinical school, but due to the vaccination problem, I didn’t have a chance to take part in clinical days, which could be the best part of a week, according to local students. However, I really appreciate this wonderful journey, and people I met in this journey. It is a precious experience!


Marta Kisiel from McMaster University, Canada undertook a clinical placement at Concord Hospital in 2015

I am a first year medical student from McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada). I had the pleasure of participating in a four week elective in Anatomical Pathology at Concord Repatriation Hospital.

During my elective, I participated in a variety of activities within the department, including microscopy teaching sessions and cut up. In addition, I was able to observe procedures in the morgue and in specimen collection such as fine needle aspiration. Multidisciplinary meetings in a variety of fields are held weekly bringing together the pathologists, radiologists, internalists and surgeons to discuss complex patient cases. I found them particularly helpful in correlating clinical history to the pathology and to understanding the role of the pathologist in assisting with diagnosis.

However, the best part of this elective was the people I got to work with in the department. The registrars included me in their teaching sessions and walked me through cases, taking the time to describe the relevant histology. The staff physicians also dedicated time to providing me with individual teaching sessions, which I found very valuable in helping me accelerate my ability to recognize different tissue samples and common disease features on pathology. The encouragement and enthusiasm that I encountered in the department strengthened my interest in pursuing pathology and I have signed up for a pathology elective during clerkship.


Perry Menzies from McMaster University, Canada undertook a clinical placement at Concord Hospital in 2015

My experience took place at Concord General Repatriation Hospital (CGRH) at the end of my first year of medical school: This was my first elective in medical school. I joined the upper GI surgery team for a four week elective and learned a tremendous amount. Everyday presented a new learning opportunity and the staff made significant effort to involve me and provide teaching pearls where possible. Additionally, there were a myriad of settings in which I could learn: On the ward, in the OR and in the class room (not to mention the lunch room, where I received many informal teaching sessions over coffee). On the ward I had an opportunity to interact with the patients whose surgery I would later assist. During operations, I was often able to scrub-in and assist, which gave me an opportunity to practice new skills and to see anatomy in detail. Even when I was not assisting I had a great view of the proceedings and the surgeons made every effort to narrate the procedure and engage me with questions.

All in all I had a wonderful experience. I am very happy I chose this elective and am very grateful to all the staff who made it possible.


Olivia Begasse de Dhaem from Columbia University, USA undertook a clinical placement at Nepean Hospital in 2015

What struck me the most at the Nepean Hospital is the exceptionally warm welcome we have gotten from everyone. I received emails from several University of Sydney medical students who offered to show me around the area. Everyone on my team in the hospital was genuinely interested in my learning and well-being and went above and beyond for me to have the most enriching experience. Even if I was an overseas medical student, no difference was made in the hospital between the Australian students and me. I was able to get involved as much as they did, which meant a lot to me. Living in the student accommodation across the street from the hospital was both fun and convenient. I am so grateful for this wonderful experience.


Zhou Tianyu from Fudan University, China undertook a clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2015

Elective placement in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital was a unique and fantastic experience at the very beginning of my medical career. I spent the 6 weeks elective within colorectal unit of RPA hospital. First, I want say thank you to all the consultants, fellows and interns as well as nurses in ward and theatres, and all the staffs who help me in RPA, for their kindness and help during my elective period.

The colorectal unit is divided into three teams and each team has two to three consultants, one fellow and one intern. Besides, there is one evening intern and one lifehouse fellow who are responsible for evening work and lifehouse work, respectively. Daily work begins with the ward around, generally led by the fellow and intern. Although there are fewer patients here compared to China, one intern must take care of all patients in the team. So this resident work is a big challenge and good opportunity for the interns. Besides, the responsibilities are different as well. For instance, doctors do cannulation and nurses do dressing in Australia, but in China it is just the opposite.

After ward rounds, interns carry out the instructions by fellows and consultants, and fellows will head to theatre to do operations with consultants. As I will be a surgeon in the future career, I spent most of my time in the theatre, observing and scrubbing in as needed. Most cases in the theatre are endoscopy and hernia repair, open or laparoscopy. But the most interesting operation must be total pelvic exenteration and sacrectomy which is used to cure advanced rectal cancer. The RPA colorectal unit is one of a few centres in the world that routinely do this operation. And there is a MDT about TPE and sacrectomy and every case is fully discussed. MDT is short for multi-disciplinary team, which consisted of several unit related to the disease and operation. MDT is fully developed in Australia but still at the beginning stage in China. In my opinion, it represents the logic of future medicine, that is, every patient should be treated as an entirety.

Central clinical school also provides plenty of study opportunities for elective students. There are lectures for medical students of RPA where elective students are welcomed as well. Besides, I must recommend grand round. In grand round, there are two cases presented which are clinically significant and really inspire me a lot.

In the end, I want to talk about the diverse culture in RPA. As one of the best hospital in Sydney, even in Australia, RPA attracts doctors from different countries to do their fellow or visiting scholar here. So during my elective period, I got the opportunity to meet surgeons from different countries and culture, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, New Zealand, Burma and France etc. By talking to them, I got to learn the diversity of culture and different health care systems in those countries which will definitely benefit me in my future career back in China.



Channita Langsy from University of Health Sciences, Laos undertook a clinical placement at Westmead Hospital in 2014

About one year ago when I received an email from my home university mentioned that I have met all the conditions to apply for a scholarship giving by the University of Sydney, I was very interested because it would give me a great opportunity to explore a new country, new culture, new peoples, to learn about different methods of working as well as studying. Nevertheless, I was also worried about that so much because my English language is not in a good level or maybe it is not good enough to apply, but anyway, I had to try, even if I had not been chosen, I would at least learn about how an interview for a scholarship was. Therefore, I decided to send my CV with an attached motivation letter. Just few days after interview, I had received an email noticed that I was one of the two student to be in Sydney, I was very excited and could not believe that.

My first day in Sydney was unforgettable, Australia has welcomed us with rain, I remember that it was very cold and I was shaking because of that. However, I was so impressed that the Sydney University has organized two nice medical students for picking us up from the airport instead of get to the accommodation by ourselves while the weather was horrible like then.

My first 4 weeks in Westmead hospital was in Rheumatology department. It is a small medical unit with few inpatients, but I have learnt a lot in the consultant clinic. I see many patients come with different problems. Doctors are very nice and really love to teach, they have taught me a lot about musculoskeletal physical examination and how to workup the patients. Westmead hospital has all possibility to process autoimmune and imaging investigation such as MRI and bone scan, which is very different from Laos, we do not have such facilities, some autoimmune investigations have to be sent to Thailand and wait for a few week to have results. We do not even have a MRI in the country. Rheumatology still is a new specialty in Laos; we have just few numbers of rheumatologists graduated. Therefore, being in Rheumatology helps me a lot to learn about new diseases that I would never learn in my country.

My last rotation was in Geriatric Medicine, which is very different from my first one; there are lots of patients, lots of medical officers working as several teams. The first day in this department, I was instantaneously wondering that Australian population has a very long life. I have seen a 99 years old gentleman who had an intestinal operation, and still is in a well condition, this image is extremely rare in Laos. I was particularly impressed with the system of working in this department. Every morning before seeing the patients, they routinely do a board round, which means every officer in the ward will have a short discussion together about patients’ management. Furthermore, every Tuesday and Friday, all doctors, residents, interns as well as nurses, physiotherapists and social workers have a case conference, in this meeting they discuss more seriously about patients conditions, how they will manage them and find together all the possibilities that the can do to help the patients getting well again before leaving hospital. I discovered that they are such a great team worker and I really appreciate it. Using computers for accessing all patients’ information is also one of my impressive things; it helps doctors as well as patients not only to save their time but also give the best quality of healthcare in the hospital and hopefully that in the future my country will apply this system in our main hospital.

On the weekends, we spend most of times to explore the city and visit some famous places. We go to the zoo, it was an unforgettable memory to touch and hold a real Kuala. Sydney is a very beautiful, alive and enjoyable city. We also visit the Art Galleries of NSW, the nice Royal Botanic Garden, have some relax on the beautiful Bondi beach and travel to the formidable Blue Mountains. On the long weekends, we also have an opportunity to visit Melbourne, ride on the wonderful Great Ocean Road and admire the breathtaking 12 Apostles. From what I see during my stay in Australia, I realized that the people here are very nice, polite, generous, helpful and friendly. They love nature and sports especially running as I see lots of gardens and people run in the city.

This scholarship is a very valuable experience for me. It extremely helps me to improve my academic knowledge, my English level as well as my cultural intelligence.
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and warmest thanks to the University of Sydney especially Professor Bruce Robinson for offering me this opportunity to train in this exceptional place and work with such generous people. I am thankful to Mrs. Fiona Thien, Mrs. Angela wallace, Dr. Andrew Duggins and his wife for their advices, their helps, their kindnesses and their generosities for me. I will certainly share all of unforgettable experiences that I learnt from here to my friends and my colleagues in Laos and will never stop to improve my knowledge. I definitely hope to return to this city again in the future.


Sha Meng from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2014

Thanks to the University of Sydney and the Office of Global Health, I was able to have a fantastic eight-week elective placement in RPAH, which seems like just beginning. I was very interested in experiencing the different medical systems between Australia and China.

I spent 8 weeks in the cardiothoracic department. Frankly speaking, I had no idea of what the cardiothoracic department was like before I came, and local students were shocked and curious about the reasons why I chose this department in which the surgeries usually took a lot of time and energy. However, this made me more interested in the challenging department.

During the eight weeks, every day was a full day. I had to arrive at normal 7:00 am to walk around the ward with my registers knowing about the current issues with patients and making new medical decisions. It seemed like a simple job but it actually required doctors to be familiar with what was going on with the patients and solid clinical knowledge to handle every problem as well. I learned a lot from the morning around which included observations of BP, HR, temperature, wounds, lungs, swelling of limbs, drains, new medications, etc. After the morning around, I always went to the operating theatre to observe surgeries. The surgeries usually took 4 hours, sometimes even more, just as local students told me. Doctors usually didn’t have any time for a good lunch except a simple sandwich and a cup of coffee. It was quite fortunate for me to have a great team and a kind register who always encouraged me to scrub in and be a part of the surgeries instead of just observing. It was really a nice experience to help some work with the surgeries such as suction and sewing, though I was still not good at it.

Apart from studying in the hospital, my friend and I also enjoyed good sightseeing in Australia which is famous for its beautiful scenery. Both the magnificent architectures such as Harbour Bridge & Opera House and natural scenes as blue ocean & lovely birds impressed me a lot. Besides, Australian people were very kind to help us with the ways and communicating with us, which improved our spoken English as well.

All in all, this was a fascinating and unforgettable experience, which improved my ability to empathize with patients, communicate with them and ultimately cure them. Both the clinical exposure I received and the cultural difference I gained will be of great use for me in the future. Finally, I am really grateful to the University of Sydney, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the whole cardiothoracic team offering me the great opportunity to both take medical practice and experience wonderful customs in Australia.


Xi Qianwen from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2014

My elective in Australia consists of two parts - 4 weeks in Sydney Eye Hospital and 4 weeks in RPAH for gastroenterology. The two departments seem to be totally different, but there are many similarities between the doctors. Doctors I've met here are all hard working and devoted to their work. They always put patients at first and are considerate to them for every aspects of their life. It seems routine to them to work overtime everyday but they never complain about it as nothing is more important than treating the patients well in their view.

The patients are also very nice. Instead of doubting you or refusing you, while knowing you are just medical students, they are even more patient in this case. What impress me most is when I use the slit-lamp to check the patients' eyes in the Sydney Eye Hospital, almost none of them turn me down and just staying there waiting for me to finish without any complaint. I had never realized how suffering it is to be on the examination until once I happened to be exposed to the light of the slim-lamp. You’ll never know how much I was appreciative to the patients for their being patient to me at that moment.

Besides the doctors and the patients, the most wonderful thing during my elective here is the great chance to clinical practice. In Sydney Eye Hospital, I learned to used the slit-lamp for the first time and practiced a lot as well. Although I was just supposed to following the doctors doing the clinic here as my routine, they also gave me opportunities to the operating theatre to see different kind of operations. In RPAH, my major job was the ward round though my preferred one was the clinic things. While doing clinics, I saw new patients myself, took the history and then reported it to the doctors. But this is not the end, the doctors would let you do the physical examination and ask you about the plans of the patient you’ve seen. Actually, it is just like seeing a patient by your own as a real doctor. I also learned to use the endoscope in the endoscopy unit. All these things helped me a lot to improve my clinical skills, which is really treasure to me.

Australia is a amazing place not only because of its medical environment but also the awesome scenery. I’ve almost been all the scenic spots in Sydney and also been to Cairns for several days. The beaches, the animals, the architectures are all gorgeous. Experiencing the scuba diving and skydiving, which I’ll keep in my mind, will always remind me of this country as well. Although the time I spent here is not that long, I do believe the 2-month experience will affect me a lifetime. Hoping to come back again!


Duangmany Phonyiem from University of Health Sciences, Laos undertook a clinical placement at Westmead Hospital in 2014

My name is Duangmany Phonyiem. I am medical student from the University of Health Sciences in Laos who is lucky person got student exchange program scholarship from University of Sydney. This report will summarize my semester on the program during my 2 months in Sydney especially in Westmead Hospital.

By participating this program I gain a lot of valuable knowledge and experiences about medical skills, how to work as part of good quality team, modern medical education system, travel and get international outlook.

First month of my clinical placement is in Urology Department, I learnt many diseases from here, everyday I was in touch with my team doing ward round, go to the clinic, taking history and do some examination with patient then discuss with my resident about the way to manage patient. In Urology department, it has operation room that I can go to see the anatomy while doctors operate, it also has meeting or lecture in there that help me understand more and have good time with my team.

My last month I work at Geriatric Department, it's very interesting. I see many patients that I never see because my country doesn't have this department, I work similar with my first department but the different thing is I go to work at emergency department for older people (HOPE ED). I see many emergency cases, then I work in occupation ward and geriatric ward, which is the place that patients are send from Occupation Ward, moreover I learn more about rehabilitation patient that I can use this experience in my country. I like to join case conference because it is very useful to learn how to investigate patient.

I found that healthcare system and learning method in Australia is very different from my country. We are very far from this modernity, it is a very good working system, also have modern technology that use in healthcare, having good quality team work, everyone work hard for patient in order to get well and have better quality of life. Doctors or residents is very friendly. They don't mind to teach me, I am very happy to work with them and see many patient feel happy when they leave hospital. I usually go to the lecture or grand round with medical student or resident to learn about medical terminology, medical standard and medical science. Luckily, during my rotation in Westmead hospital it had hospital week that I can go to lecture in the whole week. I had learn about cardio stem cell, new research and many disease.

I really like Sydney. It is very nice city and have a lot of beautiful places that make me usually feel amazing and unforgettable. My friend and me, we like to go to the garden or beach which close to city to relax after working hard. Sydney also have multiple cultural, variety delicious food and it be very good place for shopping. I went to Melbourne last holiday it has many wonderful places as Sydney too. While I stay in Sydney I still improve my English and I learn a lot of thing that open my eye how to live in the civility country by myself.

I meet many doctor, officers, Lao people that live in Sydney. They all are very nice, friendly and be very good to us. I also have good relationship with medical student friends from oversea that we can exchange knowledge experience about learning and working, moreover sometime we share our traditional food and present to each other that is very good way to learn new culture with my friends.

I found that this exchange program is an extremely enriching and rewarding experience. It is more than just an academic venture, because it encompasses so many lessons about life itself. My lessons learnt were about people and the world we live in. What I had hoped to achieve in this program, these I got and more – memories and friendships to last a lifetime. I am very happy while I stay in Sydney. After I back to my country I will try my best to continue my studying and I will use my knowledge and experience that have gained from this program to advance my studies and career to be effective. Finally, I would like to thank you, Prof Bruce Robinson, the Dean of medical students in University of Sydney that make this program happen and I would like to thank you again to Ms Fiona Then, Dr Andew Duggins and Angela Wallace select me to this program also you are always help me for every thing before I came here and during I stay in Sydney, I am very grateful. I hope that I will be able to apply and come to study in Sydney again in the future.


Noah Matagala from Makerere University, Uganda undertook a clinical placement at Concord Hospital in 2014

Coming to Sydney was a dream come true. Thanks to Sydney Uni for their partnership with Makerere Uni, that made my 6 weeks elective placement at Concord Repatriation Hospital a reality. The anxiety and fatigue from my first and very long flight were masked by the excitement after landing in Sydney, one of the world’s most highly rated cities in terms of quality of life.

Having spent all my life in the tropics, here I was to face winter; my homeostatic mechanisms became stronger, more sensitive and more accurate. Soon or later the coldness was no longer an issue.

The objectives of this placement were;

  • To experience the health system and health care delivery in a more resourceful country.
  • To interact, discuss and share medical knowledge with fellow medics at Sydney Uni.
  • To explore the social life in Sydney.

The above objectives were achieved as I rotated in gastroenterology, upper GI surgery and geriatrics however, my colleague and I rotated in different departments. My medical knowledge greatly escalated through the various activities done during my placement which included; daily ward rounds with specialists, registrars and interns, attending outpatient clinics, attending operations in theatre, attending medical and surgical ground rounds, and home visits (geriatrics).  We also participated in patient history taking and physical examination, which we presented to specialists and discussed the appropriate investigations and management. This was a great boost to our confidence in patient management. Through attending lectures with the medics of Sydney uni, we got to share medical knowledge and also interact socially.

We also appreciated the more advanced forms of investigations done to diagnose diseases and the holistic management of patients offered at the hospital i.e. medical therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social workers, dieticians, speech therapy and psychotherapy, which were all aimed at enhancing the patient’s health. For my first time, observed the Ivor Lewis Oesophagectomy, one of the most invasive procedures done on a human being.

Attending the annual Concord clinical week was stunning beautiful, this was crowned by a grand debate between consultants with the motion “The Glass is half empty”. The physicians proposed and the surgeons opposed the motion, it was interesting to see the “big” guys in the hospital displaying such good humor during the debate.

Over the weekends, we explored Sydney’s broadly striking natural environment, level of infrastructure and culture. The places we visited were; Opera house, darling harbor, Sydney Olympic park, Hillsong church, manly and bondi beaches. We also learnt about the Aboriginal culture in Sydney, the world’s oldest continuous culture which is still alive in the 21st century. We also visited some Australian families who shared with us the Australian family set up, values, norms and the common dishes prepared in Australian homes. 

We appreciate the following for making our stay in Sydney a success;

  • Sydney Uni for funding our travel, accommodation and upkeep
  • Prof Bob coming for initiating the partnership.
  • Ms. Fiona Thien and the office of Global Health for processing our travel documents and receiving us warmly in Sydney.
  • Ms. Wendy Lac, the elective officer for organizing our rotations and orienting us in the hospital.
  • All the specialists, registrars and interns in geriatrics, gastroenterology and upper GI surgery that availed time to teach us while on ward.


Winfred Nakato from Makerere University, Uganda undertook a clinical placement at Concord Hospital in 2014

Receiving news about my placement in Sydney is one of the best things that has happened to me during my five years in medical school. The placement was to last 6 weeks in Concord Hospital. Preparing for the journey was hectic but worthwhile. We had different rotations with the colleague I came with; I was to rotate in Colorectal Surgery while he was in Gastroenterology but later join for Geriatrics. The major Objective of this placement was to experience the delivery of healthcare in a developed country.

From this rotation, I have learnt a lot about care of geriatric patients which is not a specialty in my country plus I have enriched my knowledge in different aspects in medicine and surgery. I have also appreciated the Australian healthcare system, modernized transport system, the variety of cultures in the country as well as the social system. The fact that I got to experience the harsh winter was an added bonus!

From the daily ward rounds held with the consultants, registrars and interns; the clinics, theatre and the home visits in Geriatrics we learnt a great deal on how to handle patients. We were given opportunity to clerk patients and present to the consultants; thereafter we would discuss the patient cases; carry out physical examination; discuss appropriate investigations as well as both short term and long term management. We appreciated the multidisciplinary approach taken up by doctors here in patient care as allied health professionals were involved in the care e.g. dieticians, physiotherapists, social workers occupational and speech therapists. Different consults were always sent out to other departments to get involved in patient care if need arose.

We would join the lectures every Friday meant for the students at concord clinical school. Here, we met new people and made connections. We also met and interacted with students from other countries, also on electives program especially from Germany and Denmark. This was an unforgettable experience as most were friendly.

The health system in Australia is very different from that of Uganda starting from the paging system of communication, to how much emphasis is put on social and family history of the patient and the whole idea of disposable theatre apparel was so new.

Over the weekends, we visited a number of awesome places together or individually including the Olympic Park, Manly and Bondi beaches, Harbor Bridge, Opera House, and Darling Harbor among other places in the city. We also were invited by different families for dinner.

The people of Sydney are very warm and welcoming. On a number of occasions, people offered to help us out with directions, how to buy train tickets, which bus to take and those little things that matter.

We would like to thank:
The University of Sydney for making this program happen through its funding of our travel, accommodation and upkeep.
Professor Robert Cumming for bridging our two universities, making this program possible and checking up on our progress at the hospital.
The team at Sydney University including Ms. Fiona Thien and Hamish Watson that guided us since the start of processing of the Visas and continually availing their help after we arrived in Sydney, we are eternally grateful.
Dr.Vasikaran Naganathan and Dr. Robyn McCarthy in Geriatrics as well as Dr. Anil Keshava, Dr. Stephen Boyce and the entire Colorectal team for their continuous guidance during my stay in the hospital.
The whole family at Concord Clinical School and the hospital that made us feel welcome. We are grateful.
Wendy Lac, electives officer at Concord Clinical School. Thank you for the help with the helpful guidance with the necessary requirements, making us feel at home and always playing the nurturing role whenever we needed solace.


Du Yu from Fudan University, China undertook a clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2014

The eight-week placement was a fantastic and impressive experience in my life. I have been staying in the Department of Endocrinology of RPAH and Sydney Eye Hospital for 4 weeks separately. Before I went to Australia I have already been on rotation in Shanghai for almost a year, however this placement still gave me quite a fire-new outlook on how doctors could interact and communicate with their patients. Being in the healthcare system which is completely different from that of China, also helped me to reflect upon the gap between doctors of the two countries more profoundly. What I saw and learned here will definitely benefit my future of being a qualified doctor.

Besides, splendid natural scenery and various cuisines here were unforgettable. Thanks so much for offering this precious chance. People here are so nice. Fiona, Duriye and staff in the office helped me a lot during the period. I love Sydney!


Shi Jiajun from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a PBL and clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2014

Time Flies! We will soon finish the 5 week elective program.

I can still remember the first time when we finally find our way to clinical education center and then go to RPA 11 west to follow the tutorial of Professor Bye. In fact, we didn’t do any preparation to review medical terminations in English in advance, and thus found it difficult to understand what was discussed by the doctors and stage one students. And the following weekdays are also a bit hard to go through due to language. But every teacher or student here is rather kind and helpful, they encourage me to ask any questions I do not understand and try to slow down for me to fit in. Till now, though I cannot get to know everything, but at least most of the part and do find many courses very interesting.

In terms of my favorite part, it is the clinical day at RPA. Recently, we’ve done a lesson at the resuscitation room about oxygen therapy, the patient model lying in bed casts by the Mr Fulton for us to take history and we can even hear the breath sound and heart sound from the fake patient. Since we cannot differentiate all the sounds, we even come back after class to do more practices, and the tutor explained to us patiently. We really appreciate his kindness. And inside the ward, we listen to the patients’ story and do some physical examination following the Sydney students in the group. I learned a lot from taking history and every time I try to raise questions too. Professor Bye also tries to offer us more chances to take history and introduces several patients who are very friendly to let us talk to. During the communication skill class, Professor Menzies will always play the role of patient and students act as doctor. Questions asked by Prof M are really deep and interesting questions. Both of Mengting and I gave a presentation on Beijing Lung to the group and Prof Menzies, it’s not easy to look for all the literature and prepare a short speech in English, but at the same time a really good opportunity to improve my medical English and presentation skills.

I also find that medical students in University of Sydney is full of passion for medicine, with the sound of typing to take notes in their laptop heard during every lecture and concentrating on the slides. Since they do not have any certain textbooks, they have to select what they need among all the recommended readings and organize them all on their own. Most of the time they can figure out all the basic mechanism of many diseases and they also pay much attention to clinical skills. It’s very important to know what really matters and to remember the aims all the time.

Besides study, we certainly went to sightseeing in Sydney. Hiking in Blue Mountains, walking along Bondi Beach to watch people surfing, taking the ferry and seeing opera house from different aspects…… There are so many fantastic places I’ve never been to that I’m totally excited about every trip! Actually the University of Sydney is a beautiful place too, we always enjoy having lunch sitting in the sunshine in the lawn. We also went to some museums including Art galleries, Australian Museum and the one inside quadrangle. It’s impressive to know about the history and humanity of Australian life.

In a word, I enjoyed our life a lot as a medical student as well as a traveler here. I really appreciate the help from all the tutors and students.


Chen Mengting from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a PBL and clinical placement at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2014

It is really an unforgettable experience to study in the University of Sydney for five weeks. In the school and RPAH, I study respiratory block with the local students. I notice that the teaching methods are different from that in Shanghai Jiaotong University. In my school, we put more emphasis on lectures, but in Sydney Uni, the students are good at self-learning.

On clinical days, under the guidance of Dr. Bye, we learned to take history and do physical examinations on the ward. The tutors always answer our questions patiently. Although it is a little difficult at first, my medical English improved significantly in the next few weeks. I also learned many useful clinical skills such as oxygen therapy and spirometry, etc. More importantly, it is not what I learn but how I learn it that really matters. A good learning habit will be beneficial to me in my ongoing study. On PBL class, we discuss a clinical case together at a time. I have the opportunity to make presentations about certain questions just like other people. Therefore, both my medical knowledge and oral English are greatly enhanced. In the second part of PBL class, the teacher tells us many insights on the PBL case with his personal experience. The lectures are also informative and interesting. The local medical students and professors are all very kind to me. Some students welcomed us warmly with Australian hospitality and helped us many times.

Moreover, Sydney is a modern and international city, renowned for many sightseeing spots. During spare time, we go traveling to some famous tourist destinations, including Opera House, Blue Mountain, Royal Botanical Garden and so on. We enjoy the magnificent architectures and the mixture of various cultures. What impresses me deeply is that the environment here is always clean and tidy.

The exchange program is definitely eye-opening. It has offered me a great chance to not only expand my scope of knowledge, but also make friends with people from different culture backgrounds!


Mam Sambovithyea - medical student from University of Health Sciences, Cambodia undertook an elective at Children’s Hospital Westmead in 2014

I was very fortunate to be chosen as an elective student of the University of Sydney in pursue of a clinical placement at the children hospital at West Mead. To be honest, the experience of traveling to Sydney alone was a little intimidating because not only it was my first time, I was also struggling with language, adjusting with different food, weather, transportation and overall, a different lifestyle.

The first day of my arrival, I was greeted and had such a warm welcome by Mr. Brian Jackson at the airport. They drove me around Sydney and took me to a nice lunch with his wife Mrs. Cathy Jackson at their house. Later, Mr. Jackson took me to the student accommodation at the children hospital at West Mead. Later at night, I got to meet other students in my accommodation; they were very friendly and helpful.

The next day I was excited to see Vikki who organizes the clinical placement at the hospital. I would like to thank her for giving me a quick orientation at the hospital. The following day, I was nominated to do a presentation at the University of Sydney and I decided to present about national pediatric hospital which is the only public children hospital in Cambodia. However, it did not turn out so well because I was nervous and did not have much time to prepare for it. Plus, it was my first time to do a presentation in English. But the end of the day, I got the encouragement from my colleagues and it made me feel better to accomplish something out of my comfort zone.

On April 12th to May 9th, my clinical placement program was held at the Children hospital at West Mead or called Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. The course divided into two main sessions. On the first week I had to attend the lecture class with a lot of good experience professors. For the last three weeks, I was involved in the general medicine department. It was very interesting to visit the children along with the doctors. Every morning, there was a meeting about patient reports, and we would do a round visit for selected patients of each ward at the hospital. I found out that the most common diseases for children were bronchiolitis, asthma and gastro-enteritis. Moreover, the moment that got me excited was when I visited the patient and reviewed their medical history and examined the patients by myself. I learned from observing from the doctors of how they treat their patients and how difference of it between a developed country and my country. I noticed how the doctors oversea worked very hard and spent a lot of time to get to know their patients and their students. At this time, I would like to thank all my supervisor Dr. Alivin Tan, Dr. Stuarte and Dr. John Steadson for your kindness in guidance, advisory and allow me get my hands on patients and physical exam them.


The unforgettable things about Australia were that people were very friendly, helpful and very kind to me. Even though, I was being far away from family but people over there made me feel like family. I enjoyed every moment that we spent together. I missed them all.

Despite of the study, I had the weekend to myself to do some sight-seeing and explore the beautiful city, Sydney. I got to visit a lot of amazing places such as Auburn Botanic garden with Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. The following weekend, I got to spend time with other elective students from other countries. We went to the Opera house, Darling Harbour Bridge, Aquarium, Sydney tower, Sydney wildlife, Australian Museum and the Blue Mountain.... It was so much fun to see those popular places in that city.

Overall, I was very happy that I got selected to travel to Sydney. I have learned new things from the hospital it was a good experience to be able to working and living in a developed country. With this involvement, I can increase more knowledge in a medical field and I can use it in the future to students in Cambodia. In addition, it was also a good opportunity to practice English in a native speaking country.

At last, I would like to express a special thanks to the Office for Global Health Team at the Sydney University that gave me this scholarship, Mrs. Fiona Thien and Mr. Jason Dibs for arranging my traveling. Also, the Education Support Officer of University of Sydney at the Children Hospital at West Mead; Mrs. Vikki Cheetham for arranging my clinical program and for helping me during my study and staying. I am very honor and appreciate everything. Thank you for your kindness.


Sin Sokheang from University of Health Sciences, Cambodia undertook an elective at Children’s Hospital Westmead in 2014

I felt like it was a dream when I was told that I was selected by Sydney University to participate in a four week clinical placement at the Children’s hospital in Westmead. When I arrived at the hospital I was so excited and extremely happy to be there.

When I arrived at the airport I was picked up by Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. They were very kind to me and very helpful. They helped me with a lot of things during my stay and we had a very fun time together. On the weekend they brought me to Austin-mere beach and Auburn Park and we had a very nice picnic together. I was also invited to have lunch with their whole family on Easter-Sunday. They were very warm and welcoming and they always made me feel at home.

On the first day of my training, I was a little bit nervous because it was my first time training in an oversea hospital. I had to face a lot of new thing that I had never seen before. The Australian medical system is very advanced and so much better than my country. The Doctors are very kind and work very hard too. There were many good things that I learnt during my four weeks placement but the most important things that I learnt is the way in which the Medical staffs communicate with their patients. They explain their patient’s illness and treatment plan very clearly and patiently to each of their patients. This is important because patients need to be educated and they need to be aware of what’s happening so that they can protect themselves and be prepared. And also I still remembered about the clown doctors, they made patients smile and enjoy their stay in the hospital. They walked to each patient’s room and talked in funny language to them and having a joke story. On my last day at hospital I was with some clown Doctors and I saw how they make the patients happy and laugh. I learnt that treatment is not all about the medication but the way we communicate with the patients as well. I really want my country to have this kind of Doctors.

During my training in the hospital, I was in team number two with Dr. Allen and Dr. Puusepp Bennazouz, the registrar and other residents. Doctor Puusepp Bennazouz was very kind to me and she explained to me a lot of things about medical diseases and the working process within the hospital. She also taught me how to present each patient’s case and how to properly write about each patient’s medical history and how to enter patient’s records in the computer. This was very interesting because in my country we only have a paper based system and there is no computer network at all.

I have joint the lecture for a week and also having a group tutorial with other Sydney University students. It was very challenging and a very good experience for me. Students are very brave to give the answer and ask the questions. And through this lecture I have learnt a lot of good lesson which can help with my study.

Lastly, I would like to thank Sydney University and Children’s Hospital Westmead for all your help and for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to study and learn new things so that I can share what I have learnt to other people. And also I will have some new idea how to make a change for my country. And I am so grateful to meet a lot of kind people who are always helping me when I did not understand about something and I also have a wonderful time to visit many beautiful tourist places. If there is another chance, I would love to go and continue my study there. Thank you so much for everything.


Hein Paing Htoo Chit from University of Medicine Magway, Myanmar undertook an elective at Concord Hospital in 2014

Truth be told, I was a bit afraid to come to Sydney. I thought about many things: language barrier, living cost, being a complete stranger and so on. However, that was a relief to see Ms Rebecca Moss, a student from The University of Sydney, welcomed us at the airport with a smile. From there, Rebecca took us to the Concord Hospital where her friend Sweta was waiting for us. They showed us around and we became familiar with the environment very soon. Thank Rebecca and Sweta!

The University of Sydney also arranged an accommodation for us and that was excellent. The students there were very friendly, kind and helpful. Soon we became like a family. We played tennis and billiard together in the common room. Also, we went hiking in Blue Mountains. We exchanged our cultures, foods and gifts. We had a lot of fun together.

I had a placement in Radiology Department. Sincerely, our country, Myanmar, does not have good facilities in Radiology as compared to Australia. We can't apply CT, MRI or Nuclear Medicine that much. We don't have an Interventional Radiology Department. For this reason, I am very glad to study in Radiology Department in a developed country. I spent much time in studying Interventional Radiology. It was really fascinating to see people achieving much relieves with minimally invasive procedures.

Another remarkable experience was to see how doctors communicate with patients. In my country, the doctor-patient ratio is much lower. Patients outbalance doctors. We don't have much time to focus on each patient. There is no exaggeration to say that my supervisor, Dr. Dunn, is one of the best doctors at communicating with patients. Once, after counseling a patient who had incurable cancer, he talked to the patient for a while and the patient laughed, saying that he was enjoying talking to Dr. Dunn. I am very glad to have such a supervisor.

I attended Grand Rounds and lectures as well. I was very glad to know what doctors are doing for the patients. There they can find a better solution for pitfalls they have faced. The medical students are also enthusiastic in learning. The Problem-Based Learning is very fascinating. I wanted to study about the Medical Education in Australia from the start as I am fond of teaching. I gained a lot of knowledge and I am willing to use them to enhance the education system of my country.


We also visited the University of Sydney. I was very impressed with the university’s structure, activity of students and everything. The museums in the university are fascinating. We met two Cambodian students like us on our first visit. They were also sweet, helpful and friendly. We also visited some places together.

Another beautiful thing about Sydney is the discipline. People complies law and rules. They are kind and helpful as well.

My placement was from 7th April to 9th May 2014. Time flies. Finally my five-week placement was completed. Actually that was my first time being in a foreign country. I must thank Fiona, the administrator from International Relation, and Wendy, the Elective Officer from Concord Hospital. Without their help, it would not be easier to be the first time in Sydney. I have to admit that I feel very lucky to have such an opportunity. This scholarship program has given me many ideas and lessons, and it also opened my eyes to new perspectives. Myanmar is a developing country heading towards betterment. We want a better future. We need opportunities and supports from developed countries such as Australia.

We really appreciate your help. I will use my knowledge and experiences for betterment of our community. Thanks a lot the University of Sydney!


Hsu Mon Myint Lwin from University of Medicine Mandalay, Myanmar undertook an elective at Concord Hospital in 2014

My name is Hsu Mon Myint Lwin. I am one of the medical students of University of Medicine, Mandalay, Myanmar (UMM). Myanmar is a religious country, just next to Thailand and China where there are lots of stunning golden pagodas.

I came to Sydney on student exchange program of University of Sydney. This is the very first time that Sydney medical school started to have relationship with UMM.

On the first day that I arrived to Sydney airport, I was warmly welcomed by two delightful medical students from the University of Sydney. They showed me all around concord hospital and made myself home. During my stay in Sydney, I had a lot of unforgettable memories and experiences.

Medical experience
I did clinical elective at 3 departments for 3 months, at two hospitals, Concord and Canterbury hospitals. I found out that both hospitals are very systematic and inspiring. All doctors are well-trained, experienced and hard working.

Concord hospital is a big teaching hospital on the bank of Paramatta River where there are a lot variety of specialized health care departments, research and laboratories whilst Canterbury hospital is a bit smaller hospital. Whenever shall there be very complex cases coming to Canterbury, they are referred to Concord for more advanced managements.

I started my first elective at drug and alcohol department at concord hospital on 7th of April, 2014. I met Dr Murnion, Dr Conigrave and the whole team. Both consultants and the whole team are very nice to me and taught me very well. I learned a lot about treatment of addiction, withdrawal, physical & psychological support and social rehabilitation.

Then, I continued my second elective at emergency department(ED), Canterbury hospital. EDs are very busy mostly everyday. Although it is busy and rush, Dr Chu is a decent consultant and took good care of me. And all ED team members are very nice and well-trained. I had a chance to see advanced procedures, cardioversion, precise, quick, systematic and effective way of management of emergency cases by the whole cooperative and united team.

Afterwards, I moved on to Rheumatology. This department is well known for good teaching at concord hospital because of Prof Barnsley, Dr Shenstone, Dr Ananda and the whole team. I learned a lot at morning rounds, clinics for follow up patients and radiology meeting.

On every Thursday afternoon, there is medical grand round at concord hospital when different medical departments shall present different interesting cases and diseases, newer technology and management strategies. All these grand rounds definitely helped me to improve my medical knowledge.


Social Experience
While I was still in Sydney, I had a chance to pay homage to Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir, the governor of New South Wales at the government house. We sat down, and had a lovely chat. After that appointment, Her Excellency invited me to the Queen’s Birthday Reception. That night was the most gorgeous night ever for me because I was able to know a lot of wonderful persons and share our knowledge and life experiences to each other. Her Excellency is the most respectful lady I have ever met and now I can see why people call her “a living treasure on the world”.

I also became friends with loads of Sydney medial students and we also shared our medical career life experiences to each other.

Sydney has many beautiful places to see, loads of fun things to do (e.g Vivid Sydney) and most importantly, Australians are very friendly and nice. So, I learned how to be positive and appreciate all the people around me. Although I found out there is culture difference, and language barrier, I was able to adapt everything in a few weeks and I learned how to solve problems, deal with different people with different types of personality, and face challenges.

Last but not least, Thank you so so much to the dean of the University of Sydney, Professor Bruce, dean of the University of Medicine, Mandalay, Professor Tin Maung Han and all faculty members of both universities who supported me all the way round. I really am appreciated and I shall never ever forget your gratitude. Hopefully I wish there would be a lot of exchange programs coming up in next years and the relationships between the two universities unbreakable and last forever.

Coming to Australia is a golden opportunity for me. It opened up my mind and changed my life. It let me see other parts of the world, what things need to be changed and improved not only for Myanmar but also for myself.

Every moment of me in Australia is too precious and valuable that it shall always be planted in deepest part of my heart.

In a nutshell, I LOVE AUSTRALIA !


Janefrances Namuli from Makerere University, Uganda undertook an elective at Concord Hospital in 2013

There I was, my first time on a plane out of Uganda to a place an ocean away from home. The anxiety and fatigue from the long flight were replaced by excitement after our landing in Sydney. For someone whose ideal town is crowded streets with lots of noisy motorbikes a serene city was quite the change. I could not wait to rotate in Geriatrics, experience winter and tour Sydney.

I had the following objectives for the elective placement:
To learn in a new education system the aspects of diagnosis and treatment
To have an experience of patient management outside Uganda
To learn the common diseases and their management out of the tropics in our rotations
To compare and learn how the health system runs in Australia
To appreciate geriatrics as a branch of medical practice
To experience and adjust to a life outside the home comfort zone

There were many avenues to learn at the hospital and clinical school including ward rounds, specialist clinics, grand rounds, lectures and tutorials. Ground rounds in medicine were the most amusing for me, as the study cases would have had all the necessary investigations done. This is a dream back home because if the equipment is available chances are the patient cannot afford.

Geriatrics is one specialty of medicine that is not famous back home. Such patients would be in an Internal medicine unit. Being in a place where particular attention is paid to all issues enabling their survival was a new experience. I learnt that family and social factors affecting health must not be ignored. Another area is the way different allied health groups are integrated into management; patients get dietitians, physiotherapists, and social workers whenever needed. I really loved power charts; patients’ history at one’s finger tips is a big boost to medical efficiency. I hope it will become a reality at home. I also got a chance to see medical ethical values practiced up close. Consent would be sought whenever needed in presence of interpreters and patients would have their conditions well explained.

The eye clinic had a lot to offer though I did not see any infectious disease reminding of the differences in disease distribution between Australia and Uganda however, I learnt a lot about monitoring progression of disease using the available retinal imaging modalities.

My ideal winter has always been flecks of snow but I said a thanksgiving prayer when I could not see any trace of snow. Sunny and chilly was confusing weather yet easier to adjust to.

Sharrif and I saw as much of Sydney as we could, the harbor bridge, Opera house, rocks shopping centre Manly and Bondi beaches. Of all the sights the Blue Mountains were my favorite. Seeing the three sisters and the valley of waters was amazing. Australia is really as gifted by nature as my home. The transport was fascinating; organized train and bus schedules and multi tickets. I will surely miss them as well as pedestrian crosswalks.

This was a wonderful experience for me, a memorable first trip out of Uganda. I enjoyed meeting new people who made me feel as close to home as possible. Thankfully there were students from different countries which was a good opportunity to interact and learn new things. I believe all the objectives were achieved.

I would therefore like to thank:
The University of Sydney and College of Health Sciences Makerere for funding our travel accommodation and upkeep.
Professor Bob Cummings for starting this program and ensuring its continuity as well as taking care for us during the stay.
The team at The University of Sydney; Ms.Fiona Thien, Mr Jason Dibbs and Mr Esmond Esguerra for all the help rendered to us.
Our supervisors Dr Vasikaran Nagathan and Dr Domit Azar in Geriatrics and Opthalmology respectively for their concern and guidance.
All our friends at the clinical school for making us feel at home and helping us whenever possible. You made our stay such a smooth ride.
The electives officer, Ms Wendy Lac I will always remember love and sacrifices you made for us.

Li Chen from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a PBL placement at the University of Sydney in 2013


Sydney is an amazing city and it is a great chance to Sydney in winter, especially to be an exchange student to Sydney Uni. I love the life style in this country. People here live a healthy and relax life with good environment around. There are joggers everywhere from day to night. Australians love exercise so much.

The teaching method of medicine here is different from what we have in china. In my school, we put more emphasis on lectures and we have lectures every day. However, in Sydney Uni, we only have lectures on Monday and Wednesday. Sometimes those last for 8 hours a day, with a lunch break only. But the teachers here are so excellent. I like principal teacher– Michael J Field most. He gave me a lecture that I won’t forget in my lifetime.

The PBL class here is more relax maybe because there is no teacher present at the beginning. They help to improve my ear a lot for listening to more than 3 different accent at the same time. And the important role that the leader play in this class really impress me. The group of clinic practice is smaller here than in shanghai. I have more opportunities to talk to the patients and communicate with the tutor. And Doctor Chapman, my tutor, is a very warm-hearted lady. She teaches me a lot about history taking and clinic method.

Five weeks is not a long time at all. But with the help of students, teachers and Fiona, I think I have discovered the tenderness and beauty of Sydney.

Fei Yudong from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China undertook a PBL placement at the University of Sydney in 2013


Time flies. I have just finished my exchange program for renal-urology course in University of Sydney for a month and now back in Shanghai Jiaotong University in China. I appreciate this exchange program a lot, because we are allowed to have the same schedule as the local medical students. We listen to lectures together, learn physical examination and inquiry on clinic day and have PBL discussion in the same group with local students. During this course, I have a better understanding of how the medical students are studying in the university instead of just having some specially selected courses.

For me, my favorite day in a week is Thursday because we have clinic day in hospitals. Most exchange students will go to RPAH(Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) and it`s just next to University of Sydney. In clinic day we have three sections, firstly physical examination, then inquiry, and some medical practice such as inserting a catheter. It was really a difficult time for me in the first week because I wasn`t able to come up with the proper words in English and I could hardly keep up with the discussion. However, with the help from local students and my effort, it was much better in the next weeks. I really enjoy analyzing and solving problems with the knowledge that I`ve just learned. I suppose it`s the style of teaching that emphasizes on applying the knowledge into practice and we can have a better understanding in this procedure.

By the way, it`s really a perfect chance to improve speaking English during the exchange program. The local students are very warm-hearted and are always ready to help you. You can have lunch with them and join them in the party. Staying in a homestay is another way to make improvements. You will have dinner with the hosts and discuss for a variety of matters ranging from lifestyles to social events. Just try to make as much communications as you can!

Sharrif Musoke from Makerere University, Uganda undertook a Clinical placement at Concord Clinical School, University of Sydney in 2013


I still remember 2nd march 2013, the day I received the exciting news. Jane and I had been chosen to go for the 6 week electives placement at Concord Repatriation General Hospital, courtesy of Sydney University. We chose to do Geriatrics for 4 weeks and ophthalmology for 2 weeks. The major objective for the placement was to observe and pick a leaf on how the first world health systems like the one in Sydney work. Over the course of our placement, I have enriched my knowledge on the different methods of doing things in and outside hospital. I have appreciated the craftsmanship of Australians ranging from the health system, transport, architecture, social system, to the steps of the Grand Canyon walkways and awed at the beautiful nature and warm personalities of the people. I won't forget the unforgiving coldness though, but that was also taken care of thanks to a few friends I met.

Specific objectives

  • To compare the history taking and physical examination methods to what we do at home
  • To learn the appropriate investigations and their interpretations for different diagnoses
  • To learn about the different ways of management of various conditions in the different rotations we went
  • To find out the common conditions and their risk factors in the relevant rotations
  • To learn from the health system employed in Australia
  • To learn the overall patient care methods in order to put a “personal touch "to medicine
  • To meet and interact with other Medical students

By moving with specialists, registrars and interns on ward rounds and sitting in during various clinics, we learnt a great deal how to handle patients, collect history and do physical exams. We gathered history from patients and examined them. We then discussed our findings with our supervisors and other specialists that were available. We discussed the various investigations that were or would have been done for each patient we presented. We then would talk about their immediate and long term problems and how they should be managed. Here we appreciated the multidisciplinary approach towards the management of the patients for example geriatricians would ask for consults of physiotherapists, dieticians, social workers, occupational and speech therapists depending on the individual needs of the patients.

The health system in Australia is very different from that of Uganda starting from the paging system of communication, to how much emphasis is put on social and family history of the patient and the whole idea of disposable theatre apparel was so new to us. I liked the way the doctors handled the patients for example engaging them in light banter, trying to explain to them in the simplest way possible and light touch which made them feel welcome. One patient appreciated this, “Do you do this for all patients?” she asked Dr. Georgina, an ophthalmology registrar. I may not take back home the cool equipment I saw here, but this is certainly a skill I would like to hold onto for the rest of my life.

We would join the lectures every Friday meant for the students at concord clinical school. Here, we met new people and made connections. I’m pretty sure we convinced a few of them to come to Mulago Hospital in December through sharing our experiences. We also met and interacted with students from other countries, also on electives program. Most of them were from Germany and Denmark. It was an enriching experience as we shared medical and cultural experiences.

Over the weekends, we visited a number of awesome places together or individually including the Grand Canyon, Blue Mountains, Manly and Bondi beaches, Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Newtown cinema among other places in the city. We also were invited by different families for dinner. Because it was cold some weekends, we had to stay in. The people of Sydney are very warm and welcoming. On a number of occasions, people offered to help us out with directions, how to buy train tickets, which bus to take and those little things that matter. The transport system was at first hard to comprehend, but it became unproblematic with time. The idea of Google maps and GPS was embraced.

We would like to thank:

  • The University of Sydney for making this program happen through its funding of our travel, accommodation and upkeep.
  • Professor Robert Cumming for bridging our two universities, making this program possible and checking up on our progress at the hospital.
  • The team at Sydney University including Mr. Jason Dibbs, Mr. Esmond Esguerra and Ms. Fiona Thien that guided us since the start of processing of the Visas and continually availing their help after we arrived in Sydney, we are eternally indebted to you.
  • Dr.Vasikaran Naganathan and Dr. Domit Azar, our supervisors in Geriatrics and Ophthalmology respectively for their continuous guidance during the respective rotations.
  • The whole family at Concord Clinical School and the hospital that made us feel welcome. We are grateful.
  • Wendy Lac, electives officer at Concord Clinical School. Thank you for the help with the helpful guidance with the necessary requirements, making us feel at home and always playing the nurturing role whenever we needed solace. You are irreplaceable.


Du Fengzhou from Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) undertook a PBL placement at the University of Sydney in 2010


"Thanks for the placement of Global Health Office, I think this exchange program helped me to become a good doctor in the future. Firstly, I learned the importance to care patients' mental health which I think is not emphasized enough in China. Secondly, I learned that we should not only focus on a disease itself but also the social and economic effects the disease might bring. Thirdly, the PBL helped me to form a clinical thinking to use everything I learned to solve real problems instead of dealing with exams. Lastly, I understood Australian medical system. I think all above would definitely help me to becoming a better doctor.

About the culture, I didn't find too much difference with China. What impressed me most is Australian people really lead a life which is very healthy and full of passion."

Jin Shi from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, undertook a PBL placement at the University of Sydney in 2010

"During the eight weeks in Sydney Medical School, I attended all the lectures and PBL sessions together with other medical students. I think the PBL sessions actually helped me to develop kind of clinical thought and learned to act like a doctor. When we tried to think of words to express the bad news to patients or educate the patients about long-term management, I really got to understand that doctors should know not only how to diagnose diseases or treat patients, but also how to communicate with patients and how to find out the best way for the patients to lead a normal life. To think for the patients, that's the most important idea I got from this exchange program.

As for the cultural parts, I think one of the Personal Professional Development (PPD) lecture gave me a lot of thoughts. In China when doctors make mistakes or there're some misunderstanding between doctors and patients, it will always turn to quarrel or lawsuit. So doctors actually get more and more afraid to make decisions. But the PPD lecture led us to think how to solve this situation by improving the clinical coordination. I think Chinese doctors should learn to improve the relationships with patients instead of complaining not being respected.''

Zhang Shu-Yi from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, undertook a Clinical placement at the University of Sydney in 2010

Zhang Shu-Yi

"The 2-month placement in rheumatology department of RPAH benefits me a lot. The most important thing that I learnt from the doctors in RPA is the way they treat patient. They really care about patients’ life and their feelings. Many patients in rheumatology are unable to walk when they came to hospital because of the pain caused by arthritis or spinal canal stenosis, after treatment they are usually much better but still not as strong as healthy people. So the doctors will ask questions like this before discharge: how many stairs do you have in your house? Do you live with someone or alone? Do you think you will be able to manage by yourself like this at home? If there is some potential difficulties for patients after discharge, doctors will sent social workers to help. A good doctor treat patient as a people or even friend with great considerate rather than only focus on the disease he/she has.

Doctors here also explain to patients with simple words the disease they have and the kind of treatment they are receiving during ward rounds and clinics. It’s not such an easy task because patients won’t understand medical terms but the doctors here are doing it quite well by using metaphor or models. It’s really important to make the patient understand what’s going on because they are the core of the whole treatment and their cooperation is needed.

I also leant a lot about the common diseases, procedures, and medicine in rheumatology. Since rheumatology contains many systemic diseases, I was able to learn the physical examination of all part of the body here. It impress me greatly that despite the advanced medical machines they have, doctors here still pay a lot of attention to basic physical examination and detailed history taking.

During my placement, I learnt that coffee, beach and weekends play an important role in Australian’s life. On those busy days, the doctors here will still go to the café to have coffee so they won’t have time for lunch! Coffee break is also a golden time for free topics and emotion communication between colleagues. I had several coffee breaks with the doctors and had learnt a lot about the life of the local Australian. Although they are busy in the hospital, they still make their weekends a really leisure time. They held parties, went to the bar and beach. Many Chinese just stayed at home watching TV or surf on internet on weekends but Australians seem to have their weekends more interesting. On Monday, people will always ask you, what did you do on weekends? The beaches are full of people during the weekends when the weather is good. People really like sun and water here. They want their skin to be tanned by the sun while Chinese people don’t want to be tanned by the sun. I’m quite surprised when I see the cream helping your skin to have “healthy colour” in the supermarket because there are only cream for whiten your skin in China. Also I learnt that Melbourne Cup is a big event in Australia. People will even stop working to watch it and everyone is talking about it!"

Zhou Wei from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, undertook a Clinical placement at the University of Sydney in 2010

Zhou Wei

"Two months in Sydney flies away in a glimpse. Although it is not quite a long time, there are a lot of things that I have been through during this period. These two months have been one of the most beautiful times in my life and it is full of memory.

I'm here for the exchange program between our school and Sydney University as an elective student in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. My elective is half in Oncology Department, half in Haematology Department.

On the first day of arriving, the secretary of Sydney University referred me to the head of Oncology Department, Prof. Tattersall. Prof. Tattersall is a man with pure British English and grey hair, and he picked me up personally and talked to me kindly. He knows a lot of China, even knowing the big event happened in my hometown. He showed me around the department and introduced me to other members of Oncology team. He made fun of our registrar and resident making everyone laugh. That really made me relaxed for the new environment.

I spent the first two weeks of Oncology majorly in outpatient clinic with Prof. Tattersall in Sydney Cancer Center. As most cancer are chronic diseases, a lot of patients have been followed-up by Prof. Tattersall for several years. He knows those patients very well. Usually after a glance at the name of patient, he tells me about the history of the patient and also their personal conditions just as the family support and the patient's attitude toward the disease. That impressed me a lot.

He likes telling jokes to his patients and me making everyone laugh. He always stops to explain to me the medical knowledge and also the western culture involved in his jokes. Cancer always makes people sorrow, but his jokes always cheers us up making us to accept the reality and face it with the best attitude we could do.

There is a very good relationship between him and his patient. They know each other very well. He is highly respected by patients. Not long ago a father of a high school girl who was a cancer patient died after several years of treatment asked Prof. Tattersall to give a speech on his daughter's funeral. And another aged lady who is his patient invite him to her son's wedding. He told me that he knew it was really important for the family. And he thought he should go there because they did that means they considered him as a family. I really appreciate this and that's the role doctor should play which can help and support people not only medically but also humanly.

Prof. Tattersall also taught me when we confront difficult situation, the difficult calculation of "the risk and benefit evaluation" is important. "Sometimes it is better to do nothing than anything" when aggressive treatment will do more harm than good. He told me that he is doing some research on the behaviour of doctors how can we make patients feel much supported. I think that will do much good to tell us how to become a good doctor who not only treat the diseases but also care for people.

The placement in Haematology "entertained" me a lot. The registrar and resident, also the intern and medical student in my team really are all interesting people. They like to tell jokes too. On the first day when I was introduced to them by a doctor, they are talking about something and laughing loudly. Then our registrar Danny said to me that "Actually, we are very professional". Actually it is. Danny and Kelly always explain to us the point of knowledge we use in Haematology and also like talking to us friendly and humorously. They are vivid, professional and care for patients and students, and I like them very much too. I watched the bone marrow biopsy and stem cell transplant in the department, that really attract me a lot for my further study in Haematology. We should do just like them that be professional and enjoy life from work, and that is the attitude I appreciate very much.

My English language improves a lot through this trip. At first, I could not catch up with the fast speed and all kinds of accent of English from doctors of all nationalities. I had to focus very intensively and thought carefully to get an idea. Situation improved a lot when a week passed. Using English to think is a must now when I communicate in English. And that benefit me a lot.

I went sightseeing in Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra in this trip. Beautiful views always strike me for its fresh and pure. I love this country. Sky is blue and pure, so is the ocean. The animals here are all so cute, koala, kangaroo, platypus, and penguin. I really want to give hugs to them. We also went to Sydney Opera House to listen to a symphony and the melody was so beautiful.

The biggest difference between here and China is that here it is much less crowded. So sometimes we feel lonely and missing home, but the people in Australia are so nice that our loneliness only last for very short time and we go on for those fresh and beautiful things.

We learned to live independently in some degree. Sometimes we cook for ourselves, book air-tickets between cities to get a better view of this continent. Planning our life and study by ourselves, communicating with people coming from different countries in the world, those must benefit us a lot through our lifetime.

Thanks a lot for offerring me this great opportunity of elective student in RPAH. The Office of Global Health did a lot help for me. Fiona and the staff in the office helped me a lot in this period, warm and nice. This is really a lifetime memory. Sometimes I even feel it is not real because the totally different place and people, just like a dream, an inception, in lovely Sydney."

Li Lin from Fudan University, China, undertook a Clinical placement at the University of Sydney in 2010

Li Lin

"I stayed in liver transplantation department for these eight weeks. My routine work was being an assistant both in the operation theatre and the ward from Monday to Friday. But something different was that I should keep my mobile phone on for 24 hours every day and once I was called by the transplant coordinators of NSW I should be in front of the emergency department on time. And then a small car or a private plane will took the 4-member team to another hospital or another city for the retrieval work. The team always included the chief surgeon, two assistants and a perfusionist. These are really awesome experiences I’ll never forget.

There was one time that we flied to Melbourne for the retrieval. After the surgery I told my team that I decided to stay in Melbourne for the weekend. That was a crazy idea because I had no preparations at all but everything after that improved it the best idea I’ve ever had. Melbourne tour changed my everything in Australia.

Just as my supervisor always told me ‘'ot only do you come for medical knowledge, but also familiarize this country and the most important thing is to always enjoy yourself'. Even second generations of Chinese migrants don’t know how to enjoy their lives, let alone Chinese exchange students. But I should say that this spirit is my biggest gain in Australia and which will lead my later life. I would like to give my sincere gratitude to my good friends Ganson and Kate who were so nice to me and Office for Global Health for providing me with this great opportunity to visit Australia."

Regine Krechowicz from McMaster University (Canada), undertook an elective at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2010

"I decided to go for a clinical placement in Sydney largely because I had lived in the area before and wanted to explore the professional side of medicine in Australia. In the four weeks in Sydney, I not only got a good sense of the organizational culture of the Australian hospitals but I ended up having one of my best and most worthwhile experiences in medicine thus far.

I worked with the neurosurgery team for four weeks and I couldn't get over how delightful and helpful everyone was – surgeons, interns, registrars, residents and other medical students – everyone was willing to take time to answer questions, show me around the hospital or inform me of great teaching opportunities. I was able to fully participate in clinical teaching, rounds, OR time, meetings, etc which really made me feel valued as a team member. From a medical stand point, I will be completing most of my training in a community hospital in Canada, where there is no neurosurgeon, so for me, these four weeks were totally invaluable because I got to see such a wide variety of presentations, pathologies and procedures - what could likely be my only neurosurgical experience!

While I had lived in Australia before and therefore coming to Australia was less of an exotic adventure and more of a homecoming, I was reminded of why I originally fell in love with the people, the scenery and the Australian way of life. I spent summer evenings studying in outdoor cafes, went swimming in the ocean almost everyday, went to many outdoor music concerts and spend time with friends I hadn't seen in years. Australia has this way of making you slow down, let out a deep sigh and enjoy the moment – even while working in neurosurgery! This was such a welcome change after coming out of our final pre-clerkship exams as well as the perfect way to start the long- haul of clerkship. My experience in Australia offered me such a high quality of medical education as well as a high quality of life enjoyment that if I had more elective time, there's no doubt I'd be coming back to the University of Sydney!”

Scott Kramer from Cornell (USA), undertook an elective at Westmead Hospital and in Broken Hill Hospital in 2010

My elective in Australia was an amazing experience. During my four weeks at Westmead Hospital I was able to experience how medicine is practiced in an urban hospital in Australia. I worked in the gastroenterology inpatient service and I was also able to spend some time in the endoscopy suite and the weekly clinics. Through seeing patients on the wards and in the clinics, I was able to learn a lot about digestive illnesses. I also was able to gain some practical skills by doing an ascitic tap as well as practicing IV placements and blood draws. There were many interesting procedures I was able to see in the endoscopy suite as well, including ERCP, endoscopic ultrasound and endoscopic mucosal resections.

I then spent two weeks in Broken Hill in remote western NSW, where I worked in the hospital for a week and then had a week of community placements. I spent one day with the ambulance service and also got to go on a flight with the Royal Flying Doctor Service to a clinic in a remote town. It was very interesting to see the differences between urban and rural healthcare in Australia, as well as to learn about the difficulties and limitations of providing healthcare in remote areas.

While I was in Australia, I was also able to do some sightseeing and interact with the residents and local students. Sydney was a wonderful city with a beautiful harbor and many famous landmarks. Living in Broken Hill allowed me to experience the Australian Outback. The residents and students that I met in Australia were very friendly and went out of their way to make me feel welcome and show me around. In fact, I found that almost everyone I met in the country was welcoming and eager to help in any way they could.


Rebecca Skillen from McMaster University (Canada), undertook an elective at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2009

"I had the opportunity to do 7 weeks of electives at RPAH in Sydney, 4 weeks of rheumatology and 3 weeks of gastroenterology. I chose Australia because of the similarities to the Canadian healthcare system as well as the high quality medicine and teaching that I knew I would receive. The staff physicians that I worked with were all experts in their field. They were all very knowledgeable and provided exceptional care to their patients. The residents and interns were all very friendly and happy to teach me both about the medicine and the Australian healthcare system.

People were also very happy to answer my many, many questions about the country, city, culture, food, sport, etc, etc. I was able to travel to Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra on the weekends and explored much of Sydney during my 7 weeks of electives. There seemed to be unlimited opportunities in Sydney for sport, culture, recreation, entertainment and was generally very tourist friendly. Following my electives I travelled north to the Great Barrier Reef and the rainforest and to the centre of the country to see Uluru. I would definitely recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to undertake electives in Australia take advantage. I learned a great deal of medicine while working with wonderful people and was also exposed to an exciting culture."