Back to the heart of medicine in Mungeli

Oleg Uryasev and James Joyner, both members of the class of 2014, were the first students from the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine to participate in the school’s international rotations.

Spending part of his winter break in Mungeli, India, during his fourth year, Uryasev said the experience enhanced his desire to be a lifelong learner and taught him flexibility to adapt to different ways of doing things, including caring for patients.

“It blew me out of the water how different health care – and life itself, for that matter – was in Mungeli,” he said.

Uryasev and Joyner arrived in India for their fourth-year international rotation and quickly became accustomed to dirt roads, mosquito nets, and cold showers. Not surprisingly, at the hospital where they served, Christian Hospital Mungeli, resources were also limited. Meals were a luxury, with inpatients relying on family members to provide them with meals.

In the operating rooms, the first case of each day was the most sterile. After that, personnel reused surgical gloves, catheters, sheets, and other supplies.

Patients didn’t assume they were entitled to “extras,” such as wheelchairs. Joyner described seeing an ill patient from the hospital hobble across the road to an ancillary building for an x-ray.

Located in a city of 27,000 in central India, Christian Hospital Mungeli is a 120-bed hospital that provides a broad spectrum of medical services, including general surgery, orthopedics, obstetrics/gynecology, emergency medicine, intensive care, pediatrics, outpatient medicine, physiotherapy, and radiology. A typical day at the hospital began with morning rounds, where Uryasev and Joyner accompanied doctors and would see up to 80 patients per day.

“We witnessed many conditions we wouldn’t routinely see in the states, such as chronic tuberculosis,” Uryasev said.

During the afternoons, Uryasev and Joyner would often research treatment for various diseases and present them to their attending physicians the next day.

“The doctors really considered and valued our opinions,” Uryasev said.

His advice to future students looking for a meaningful experience?

“If you’re willing to put work into it,” he said, “an international rotation will be more than you ever imagined.”

Joyner agreed. “It really brings you to the heart of medicine.”