How our global health experience contributed to our developing identities as physicians Four lessons learned while working abroad

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Paula Gosse
Emily Kaunismaa
Roslyn Mainland

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Abstract

As three medical students at the University of Toronto, we had the privilege of conducting research in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, through the CREMS International Health Summer Research program. Here, we outline four lessons learned while working abroad: 1) working with diverse patient populations provides an opportunity to challenge implicit biases and develop cultural competency, 2) it can be challenging to collaborate with team members from different backgrounds, but embracing these differences results in a stronger team, 3) when it comes to building relationships with patients, establishing trust is crucial, and 4) allow patients to guide you, because each one is the expert of their own story. For each lesson, we share relevant personal experiences from our time in Malaysia and describe how the learning opportunity has impacted us as future clinicians. Finally, we illustrate how global health initiatives provide students with an opportunity to gain valuable insight into another way of life.