Fostering global citizenship in medicine


(IFMSA, 2016)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Firda Muthia Elsanty. The writer is a fourth year medical student from Indonesia.  Mrs Firda Muthia Elsanty is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

We can feel the social demand in modern medicine keeps going to its higher point. Expanding knowledge beyond borders and building global learning more broadly are critical to take medical education to a whole new level. Medical students require life changing opportunities to take their education more globally and advance their characters through occasion like exchange programs.

Why is this exchange program so important to medical students? It is simply because the world’s condition is now demanding today’s medical students to be well prepared to compete with future workforce from developed countries. Diseases do not respect borders in this globalized world, so knowledge about different health care and its implications is crucial for physicians of tomorrow.

This could be once in a lifetime opportunity to expose ourselves to the world, branch out and learn about different perspectives in health care. Globalizing ourselves through exchange program can increase our awareness of global health issues and social responsibility as well.

Despite outstanding improvements in health in the past decades, there are still lots of challenges as concerns global health. Millions of people lack access to health care in Indonesia and even the world. Medical students should begin to find out what kind of role they like to carry as future health professionals and also world citizens. Through an exchange program, medical students can develop a new way of thinking to become better world citizens that will guide the lifelong learning process.

Physicians never work alone. No single physician can bear responsibilities for diagnosing and treating disease without interaction with other people. From patients, families, nurses and even other doctors, physicians are expected to be able to interact with number of people in one single day. In fact, multidisciplinary teams are already a daily practice.

As future health care providers, medical students should naturally enjoy working and interacting with other people from early on. Good interactions that physicians make with their colleagues often lead to marvelous teamwork in order to treating a patient’s life. Therefore, it is definitely crucial for future physicians to be able to interact with a wide range of people since society is now much more diverse than it ever was.

Exchange program is about opening our eyes to the wider society and achieving a medical education beyond our textbooks or tutorials in classroom. The fact is getting a medical education not only benefits in terms of academics but in life experiences as well. What holds another role which is as important as academic is those ‘first time’ experiences.

This is about something that we cannot learn in those books but real life experiences. Seeing the world through an exchange program lets us earn experience and knowledge that cannot be obtained in a lecture room. Starting to experience new world outside could give a new light to our future. This is the window of opportunity to expand our knowledge across borders and to broaden our horizon.

About the writer

Firda Muthia Elsanty is a fourth year medical student and currently taking her first clinical year in Hasan Sadikin General Hospital, Bandung, Indonesia. She has spent 3.5 years of preclinical years in Faculty of Medicine Universitas Padjadjaran. She has experienced several overseas activities such exchange programs, symposiums and workshops which she found very useful in her medical education. Her experiences in medical school have built her for who she is now, a medical student who finds real experience gives a different kind of knowledge from what has been taught in formal education.

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