Never turn down an opportunity to study abroad

Despite travelling overseas and in to two different continents as part of his medical elective, Prakhar Srivastava just couldn’t turn down another opportunity to sample medicine in a foreign country. Sandwiched in between his trips to Australia and the USA, Prakhar ventured to the University of Valencia for a six day residential course. Find out how he got on below…

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A Valencian Detour

After six weeks in Australia, I had two weeks until my planned elective in the USA and an opportunity came up that I couldn’t resist. Every year, the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) hold a six-day residential course for 4th and 5th year medical students at the University of Valencia. Securing a spot involved a competitive application process for students across Europe and for all who were selected it was an all-expenses trip covered (winner!).

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Educational Schedule

Admittedly, I did wonder if being excited to attend lectures during my summer holiday was a bit odd… but the course surpassed my expectations and was worth the effort spent preparing an application. We received quality lectures from a range of internationally renowned oncologists and participated in a variety of interactive sessions including workshops, Q&A sessions and quizzes. Whilst this course will not be of interest to everybody, there are several organisations which deliver similar courses in an array of different topics. So, my advice to younger students… do some digging! If there is an area of medicine you’d like to learn more about, browse the internet and I guarantee there will be either a course, conference or symposium you could attend. If you’re lucky, you might get to travel a bit too!

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Continental Networking

My favourite aspect of this course was the opportunity to meet my peers from across Europe who shared my enthusiasm for cancer biology and medicine (lame, I know). In a group of 90 students, 38 different countries were represented at the course and in just six days, I certainly made some close friends who I hope to visit in their respective countries soon (not so lame now). Who knows, they may be my colleagues in later life (lame again). Whilst learning about medical oncology was brilliant for my professional development, so too was socialising with other students which one could class as “networking”.

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Sunny Spain!

Finally, the icing on the cake for this trip was simply being in Valencia. After six weeks of the Melbournian winter – which, in fairness, is quite temperate compared to the English counterpart –  I finally had some time in the SUN. Once lectures for the day were over, we were free to head to the beach and in fact, mid-way through the course, ESMO had arranged an afternoon social activity at a nearby holiday villa! We were fed traditional Valencian paella and a healthy dose of sangria – quite literally feeding my professional development. If I do end up becoming a trainee in Oncology, I’ll be keeping a close eye for more ESMO funded opportunities…


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