Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City (USA)



Impressions of Weill Cornell

  • Samantha Sundercombe - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Weill Cornell Medical College in 2012–13
  • Anna Sokolova - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011–12
  • Blaise Wardle - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011–12
  • Jon Noonan - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an elective at Weill Cornell (USA) in 2009–10

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Samantha Sundercombe - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Weill Cornell Medical College in 2012–13

I did a four week rotation in Interventional Radiology at Cornell Medical College in Manhattan and would highly recommend it. New York Presbyterian Hospital is one of the largest and best in the USA, so I got to see a lot of pathology in adults and children including rare diseases like Conn’s syndrome. Doing Interventional Radiology, I had the opportunity to see cutting edge medical technologies, including using radioactive particles (Yttrium-90) to kill metastatic liver tumours, cryotherapy for renal carcinomas and portal vein embolization to make previously unresectable liver tumours resectable by encouraging the healthy tissue to hypertrophy. The team of doctors were friendly, welcoming and willing to answer questions and teach. Though I had less responsibility than other students in the USA, I feel I learnt a lot by observing, asking questions and participating in the procedures. I also had the opportunity to prepare and give a presentation on a fascinating case of life threatening haemorrhagic cystitis which the doctors treated with internal iliac artery embolization.

Living in New York, the city that never sleeps for four weeks was a unique experience. I filled the weekends with shows, museums, outdoor ice skating, the Rockefeller centre and a visit to Washington for Obama’s second inauguration, and feel I only scratched the surface of all the exciting things to do there. Overall I encourage you to apply for an elective at Cornell Medical College!


Anna Sokolova - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011–12

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I completed two four week rotations in Orthopaedics at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) - one of the hospitals associated with WCMC and a top Orthopaedic hospital in the US. I chose Trauma and Surgical Arthritis as my two specialties which were both fantastic in terms of OR time, teaching and mentorship.

I loved having more responsibility as a medical student and feeling like a valued member of the team. We usually met around 6am for ward rounds where we helped the residents and fellows with patient lists, notes and dressing changes. Rounds were followed by a daily morning conference and then the OR for the rest of the day – sometimes finishing up at 9 or 10pm. I was exposed to a large number of interesting cases and was able to scrub and assist for nearly all. Students were also welcome at all of the educational activities organised for residents such as cadaveric dissection labs and journal club.

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I’d really recommend this elective to anyone interested in Orthopaedics! I have learnt so much during my eight weeks at HSS and have met many inspiring surgeons who were more than willing to teach. It also gave me a very interesting insight into what is expected of the local students and how the US healthcare system operates. In addition, there was plenty of time on the weekends to check out the myriad of attractions that NYC has to offer and to get absorbed in the local culture.


Blaise Wardle - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective with Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011–12

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I was lucky enough to spend a month of my elective term in New York City with Weil Cornell Medical College at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). My four week rotation was with the Orthopaedic Trauma Service which will have lasting effects on my career due to the tutelage and exposure to high level orthopaedic surgery that I received there.

HSS is ranked as the top hospital in the United States for orthopaedic surgery and all of the residents and attending surgeons in the hospital are keen teachers who are happy to pass on their knowledge to interested students. As a student at HSS there are more responsibilities than you would have at a hospital in Australia. You are truly attached to a team and expected to function as a team member rather than following them and simply observing. Days usually started with pre-rounds at between 5:30 and 6:30am and students were expected to meet the resident for a round with the vitals, drain and urine outputs and any changes in general patient conditions already noted. Formal teaching for the residents started immediately after the rounds and then we were in the operating room from 8:00am 4 days per week with clinic on the remaining day. It wasn’t unusual to finish in the operating room after 9pm, cross the street to my accommodations and wake up to do it again the next morning.

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I would highly recommend this elective to anyone who is interested in orthopaedic surgery. The complexity of the operations and the quality of the surgeons and residents at HSS has to be seen first hand. If I could have stayed I would have.


Jon Noonan - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an elective at Weill Cornell (USA) in 2009–10

"The cold winter of New York provided an ideal environment to develop my medical skills; the snow and cold outside and intense pressure to perform inside forced me to focus the majority of my attention on my elective. I have held a keen interest in medical research since my undergraduate studies, when I completed an honours research year in pharmacology, and I chose Weill Cornell because of its strong research focus and I chose rotations in ophthalmology and rheumatology because both departments had ongoing research projects and I anticipated there would be opportunities for participation in these in addition to clinical activities.

I was warned before I left that I would be worked hard by my supervisors and exposed to competition from other students, who would be keen to show their own merits in a much more competitive environment. These predictions proved accurate, but for me the extra pressure provided greater motivation to study, work hard and impress my supervisors.

After spending eight weeks in New York, I gained a good basic understanding of the United States health system and what is expected of medical students in this environment. Should I wish to continue my medical training there, the experience and contacts I made will make this option much more accessible.

There are many small cultural differences between Australia and the United States that become noticeable after a short time living there. My accent was something that many New Yorkers struggled to understand and I found myself becoming frustrated at times, for example when I was looking for operating theatre “A” and the hospital staff thought I was saying "I"."