October, 17th 2023
In the summer of 2023, I embarked on a remarkable journey to Milan, Italy, where I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Doctors in Italy shadowing program. From June 26 to July 7, I immersed myself in the world of medicine at IRCCS Multimedica and San Giuseppe Hospital, an experience that not only broadened my medical horizons but also enriched me in countless ways.
At the outset, traveling alone to a foreign country I had never visited before was daunting. But as they say, the most extraordinary experiences occur when you step out of your comfort zone, and so I did. I soon discovered that this journey was about more than just medical shadowing; it was a gateway to understanding international medicine, learning to be empathetic and professional while interacting with patients, and forming meaningful connections with exceptional physicians. My expectations were challenged, and I quickly learned to embrace the unknown.
The most enlightening aspect of this journey was the genuine warmth and receptiveness of the physicians. In a specific instance after a tumor excision surgery, the surgeon, attuned to the patient’s stress, stayed by her side until she felt secure. This firsthand exposure vividly demonstrated the profound compassion inherent in medicine, showcasing that it transcends science — a harmonious blend of empathy and expertise. Through their compassionate guidance, I learned to navigate patient interactions with empathy. Moreover, the doctors not only welcomed me but went the extra mile. They explained procedures, briefed me on surgeries, and dedicated time to help me interact with patients, actively enriching my understanding of the medical field.
My journey in Milan was a pivotal point in my life. On a personal level, it pushed me far beyond my comfort zone, helping me gain confidence in myself and my abilities. I learned how to communicate effectively, ask the right questions, and navigate new experiences. Professionally, it solidified my love for the healthcare profession and my specific interest in thoracic surgery. I am now more self-assured in medical settings and around physicians, thanks to the guidance and encouragement I received.
Looking ahead, my long-term career goal is to become a Surgeon. The exposure I gained during my shadowing experience in Milan reinforced my passion for this specialty and clarified my path in medicine. The mentorship I received from the incredible physicians set me on a trajectory toward achieving this dream.
Beyond the confines of the hospitals, I had the chance to explore Milan and its rich culture. I indulged in delectable pizza and pasta, and ventured to beautiful Lake Como, with its charming gem, Bellagio. However, my most cherished memory began with the exhilarating run with my friends to catch the train to Venice, an experience that encapsulated the spontaneity and adventure of my entire journey.
To fellow aspiring medical professionals, I wholeheartedly encourage you to seek such an experience. The benefits of stepping into an entirely new culture and medical environment are immeasurable. You will not only discover more about the world of medicine but also about yourself.
I am immensely grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I want to extend my deepest thanks to the Doctors in Italy shadowing program, the physicians who welcomed me into their world, the site directors who accommodated our preferences, and the friends who shared this unforgettable journey. Milan will forever hold a special place in my heart. If you’re considering a similar path, take the leap, venture outside your comfort zone, and embrace the world of medicine and culture. The rewards are boundless, and the memories everlasting. Buona fortuna! (Good luck!)
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