Rozalina Suleymanova - 2014 Program Participant

Medical interns in the Canary Islands with a hospitals chief of general surgery

Rozalina with the chief of general surgery and another AP student after a day's worth of shadowing surgeries.

Why did you choose to go abroad for your medicinal internship?

I chose to intern abroad because I had always been looking for the opportunity to combine my interests in traveling and being exposed to other cultures with medicine. The Atlantis Project gave me the chance to be a part of a hospital in Gran Canaria where I met doctors who have impacted me in a way that I believe is different than the exposure at an American hospital. Because being in a hospital abroad came with the perspective of a culture different from my own, I was given so much more to contemplate and think about as I pursue medicine. Cultural exposure is so invaluable when it comes to a career as a physician.

What prompted you to choose the Canary Islands?

When I was choosing between the Azores and the Canary Islands, I have to admit that I didn't know much about these islands. I had taken Spanish for some years in middle school and high school, so I thought being in a Spanish-speaking island would be a great way to bring back some of that knowledge of the language. I had also heard a lot of wonderful things about the Canary Islands in general - how beautiful and enchanting these islands were in both the local areas, and the tourist and beach areas. I couldn't say yes to the Canary Islands sooner.

Students on a hike in the Canary Islands

Rozalina on a hike with a group of amazing students from places all over the country.

What was your living situation like in Gran Canaria?

We were assigned dorms at a Residencia in Gran Canaria, and it was honestly an incredibly fun way of living with the other students. Most of us were assigned rooms next to each other, so it was like university life in that we would have open doors and go into each other's rooms whenever we weren't at the hospitals. Our internet connection was ideal to stay in touch with family back home, and it even helped us to be in contact as well. There was breakfasts in the mornings at the cafeteria and a laundry room all in one building, so it was always a convenient setup.

What was a normal day like as a hospital intern in your program?

Being a hospital intern in this program made me feel a lot like a grown-up going to work every day, which I wholeheartedly loved. We would all wake up around the same time, have breakfast and start heading down to the bus stop to commute to our respective hospitals to begin our day at around 9 a.m. Depending on our assigned speciality, some of us would either be shadowing surgeries all day (or one surgery, if it's a long procedure!), or accompany a physician going on rounds. Most of us would eat at the cafeteria for lunch and then end shadowing at around 3 p.m. Those of us who did Base 5 English teaching would do so from 3:30 p.m. until 5 p.m., usually. After finishing that, we were free to do whatever we wished with the rest of our day - siesta and/or fiesta.

What advice would you give to others interested in interning abroad in the Canary Islands?

The first thing that comes to mind that I would tell a person interested in this program is to be culturally open-minded and to live in every single moment they experience when they do this program. In retrospect, I miss the program a lot and especially the students I've met from all over the country. As an Atlantis Project fellow, you're given the chance to be close to a group of people on a really special level and even get to know physicians on a one-on-one level because one doctor is usually assigned only two fellows. To this day, I think of the chief of neurosurgery in the hospital in Gran Canaria when I listen to The Scientist by Coldplay, because we were talking about how much we love Coldplay one day after surgery. This is an altogether amazing opportunity that a lot of students pursuing this path need to consider being a part of.

International interns at Roque Nublo in the Canary Islands

We made it to Roque Nublo! Rozalina wishes she could say she finished the hike unscathed…

How do you plan to use the skills you have developed from your internship in your career in medicine?

My main goal before pursuing a career in medicine is to expose myself to as many different cultures as possible so I can be the better physician for my future patients. The experiences and lessons I learned from this internship were certainly an example of what I believe to be crucial for a soon-to-be physician to encounter. Not only did we get in the routine of shadowing doctors and looking the part of a doctor, but we also began to look the part of the culture in Gran Canaria as well.

We started taking up some Spanish and interacting in a different way than we would back home. Personally, I'm a huge language lover so I thought this was one of the coolest aspects of the program, but generally speaking being able to communicate with individuals from different cultures is just as important as performing as a physician is. Performing as a doctor is only half of the job, but the second half is being able to communicate with your patient to provide the best care possible. These are the skills I have been given by the Atlantis Project that I will always cherish.