‘Learning from the best’: Peruvian students reflect on their time at Michigan Medicine

March 7, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Giancarlo Giovannini, left, and Maria Gastanadui came to Michigan Medicine for a one-month rotation in internal medicine.

It might be called Michigan Medicine, but the pursuit is global.

Medical students from around the world regularly make their way to Ann Arbor as part of their studies. February alone saw visitors from Brazil, India, Nigeria, China and Peru. Some spend years on campus developing their research skills, while others have clinical experiences that last a few weeks.

In either case, they take the lessons learned at Michigan Medicine and apply them throughout their careers to the benefit of patients near and far.

“I’m learning from the best and getting to know fantastic residents, fellows and doctors that will help me no matter what path I take,” said Maria Gastanadui, one of two students from Lima, Peru in the midst of a month-long rotation with internal medicine.

“Welcoming international students brings another dimension to medical education, for both the visiting students and students at the host university,” said John M. Carethers, M.D., MACP, John G. Searle Professor and chair of internal medicine. “It allows students to share how their different cultures approach learning and approach medicine, which makes for a robust experience for everyone involved.”

Maria and her classmate Giancarlo Giovannini, from Universidad Peruana Cavetano Heredia, arrived in Ann Arbor in early February for one-month rotations in different areas of internal medicine. Working under attending physicians, the students participate in rounds, meet with patients and present their findings to colleagues.

Both are the first in their families to attend medical school and both are slated to graduate later this year. For those who wish to work in public hospitals, Peru mandates year-long residency experiences, typically in rural underserved areas assigned by the government. Because of this, neither Maria nor Giancarlo know what the immediate future holds, but they know the lessons learned at Michigan Medicine will apply.

“I’m here to absorb as much as I can,” Giancarlo said. “Then I can take that experience to the public health system in Peru and help patients there.”

“I hope one day to work in a teaching hospital where I can perform research,” said Maria. “All I know is that right now I’m in the right place to get the best experience possible.”

During the 2015-16 academic year, Michigan Medicine hosted nearly 300 international students and scholars from around the world. Many of those student experiences are coordinated through Global REACH (research, education and collaboration in health), a Medical School department that places students from international partner schools for electives or research experiences with units and divisions across the health system.

No matter where they hail from or how long they stay, they all bring valuable viewpoints — cultural, technical or otherwise — that benefit their Ann Arbor colleagues.

“International exchange programs not only bring different perspectives to Michigan, but they help unite perspectives with what we have to offer in American medicine,” Carethers said. “For instance, sometimes the approach in the U.S. is too technology-heavy and forgets the basics of medicine. Our physicians and students here can learn a lot from the exchange students and how they approach and treat a patient.”