13 June 2019

  • Thea Chandler
    University of Leeds

"I’d like to thank the British Society for Haematology for enabling a such a valuable and career shaping experience."

Our grant impact testimonials show how our grants have helped our grant recipients achieve goals, create networks and further their research. Thea Chandler is a medical student at University of Leeds who visited Kerala, India after receiving a BSH student elective scholarship. Read Thea's testimonial:

Having thoroughly enjoyed my intercalated BSc in Haematology I decided on a Haematology and Oncology placement at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS) in Kerala, India. I was incredibly fortunate to be awarded the BSH student elective scholarship, which enabled me to venture further than the UK, for which I am extremely grateful.

I enjoyed an incredibly varied schedule that exposed me to the entire department. I spent the majority of my placement participating in ward rounds and outpatient clinics, observing procedures, preparing and interpreting slides from cases I had seen during morning rounds. I worked in the chemotherapy day unit, the flow cytometry and pathology laboratories, the bone marrow transplant unit and on inpatient wards. I could not have anticipated the sheer breadth of cases I would be exposed to, I saw clinical manifestations of diseases I had only ever seen in textbooks.

The highlight of my placement was the opportunity to have a comprehensive induction into their blood and marrow transplant unit and meet patients who were post-transplant. Although small, with only a 4 bed capacity, the transplant unit was incredibly sophisticated and the staff were eager to teach me the intricate protocol followed to keep their transplant donors and recipients healthy. Unfortunately there were no transplants whilst I was at the unit, but I still gained an awful amount from talking to the staff and patients on the unit. Although a lot of parallels could be drawn, there were also stark contrasts. For example the fact that donors pay for their own medical care whilst donating, and therefore there is an unsurprisingly miniscule donor pool. Healthcare politics and financial difficulties became a recurring theme to my elective and I didn’t anticipate how deeply these problems affected families nor the emotional response these matters evoked in me.

The aspect I found most interesting was the contrast in healthcare cultures. Concepts that seemed so alien at the start soon became second nature. Having a gaggle of patients at the clinic room door elbowing their way in to be the next seen, selling the family home to pay for a child's chemotherapy regime, doctors working schedules of 8am-10pm six days a week were all a reality that I couldn't comprehend. It really made me appreciate the National Health Service and consider how much we take for granted. A lot of the doctors I spoke to were worked beyond exhaustion, with reports of the government hospitals being ten times worse. Yet despite the gruelling hours, every staff member at AIMS always greeted me with a fabulous smile and the warmest demeanour. I've never felt so welcomed into a team and can say I've made friends I will keep for ever. I’d like to thank the British Society for Haematology for enabling a such a valuable and career shaping experience.

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