Friday, February 3, 2012

Across the Pond

Since I was a senior in college, I have wanted to spend time in London to conduct research. Sounds a bit odd I'm sure. Perhaps you thought I was going to say I wanted to spend time in London to watch football (that's soccer for you yanks) or to use it as a springboard to explore Europe. While I'll certainly be using my time in London to catch Arsenal matches and take advantage of cheap rail and airfare around Europe, my official reason for being in the UK is to conduct the research necessary to complete my master's thesis for the MTR program, one of the many dual-degree opportunities at Perelman.
From the south bank of the Thames River 
I am currently a visiting research fellow in the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London's St. Mary's Hospital, where my work is supervised by Professor Ara Darzi and Dr. Rajesh Aggarwal (though in the UK, surgeons liked to be called "Mister"). My area of research is in surgical education and simulation, and the labs investigating surgical education and technology at Imperial College are some of the most prolific in the world, collectively publishing over a hundred papers every year.

The simulation facilities here are top-notch, though Penn's simulation center is just as impressive. St. Mary's boasts a virtual reality lab with multiple virtual reality laparoscopic and endoscopic trainers that allows trainees to receive highly detailed metrics of their operative performance. Furthermore, the simulation center is equipped with a cadaveric porcine lab to let trainees practice procedures on pig tissue, a fully simulated operating theatre, and a state-of-the-art simulated endovascular suite (the only one in the world). The inner tech geek in me, which I admit is actually the outer tech geek, nearly passed out when I was introduced to all of the equipment.

If med school doesn't pan out,
there's always Hogwarts
In August of 2011, I met Salaj, a medical student from King's College London through Perelman Med's Peer Hosting program. The Peer Hosting program connects visiting medical students from abroad with a current Penn medical student to help them get acquainted with Philadelphia. Salaj and I became quick friends during his time in Philly; and since I arrived in London, Salaj has been a wonderful host, showing me around London and introducing me other students at his medical school. I'm fortunate that Penn gave me not only the opportunity to come to London, but also provided the opportunity to make friends here before ever leaving the States.

I have much to look forward to in my remaining 8 months here: the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Wimbledon, and the Summer Olympics. With over half a year to go, maybe I'll finally learn to look for cars driving on the left side of the road whenever I cross the street. My top priority, however, is picking up a posh British accent; I figure it is one of the most useful skills I can acquire before going back to the US. That being said, I don't think I'll ever learn to spell like a Brit. Dear Britain, it's spelled "esophagus" not "oesophagus."

I'm certain I'll have plenty more to write about London Town and British quirks that I find amusing. Until then, hope all is well in the colonies.

Olympic rings welcoming visitors to Kings Cross Station

Perhaps when I'm eventually an attending I can
get a suit from one of the famous tailors on Savile Row

Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin at St. Mary's Hospital,
and the 2 million signs around the hospital won't let you forget it.
I guess it's the same as Penn's love of Benjamin Franklin...

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