Belonging to a family of STEM majors, Agrima Karun Gera has always been passionate about medicine and how it can make a meaningful difference in society. Having grown up in various cities across India, she spent her most formative years in Mumbai. Here, she learned to understand the value of exchanging ideas with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
She knew her study abroad destination would have to measure up to this dynamism. Vita-Salute San Raffaele University did just that. Located in Milan –– the economic heart of Italy and a cultural mecca –– the university has a long, illustrious history in developing doctors and scientists that excel on a global scale.
Agrima also knew that by choosing Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, she would be guided by experts every step of the way. “Its faculty are well recognised for their impact on the medical community,” she shares. “Doctors and researchers here are pioneers in their respective fields. From speciality procedures to novel discoveries in the lab –– there is always something new to learn and discover.”
A state-of-the art hospital located a stone’s throw away didn’t hurt either. San Raffaele Hospital –– a part of Italy’s largest hospital group, the San Donato Group –– is located on campus grounds. Here, Agrima and her peers learn and discuss new solutions to a diverse range of clinical cases. They also get to explore the processes used in research labs that are known for their impactful discoveries.
She was given multiple opportunities to understand the inner workings of these labs and comprehend literature as early as her first year. Agrima recalls the first time she was able to truly appreciate anatomical structures in real time. She and her peers took part in a lab activity where they were asked to dissect animal hearts. The exposure left her in awe.
Since then, she’s taken on mandatory clinical rotations and clerkships within various areas of medicine; she’s worked in labs for anatomy, embryology, biochemistry and genetics; and she’s even reviewed and presented scientific literature.
“Courses, labs, and experiences like these, especially in the early years, really helped solidify concepts and made things really interesting,” she enthuses. “The academic and cultural environment at San Raffaele would make for a great foundation and allow me to steepen my learning curve and hone skills key for my personal and professional development.”
As an International MD Program student, Agrima is well on her way. This programme follows internationally-acclaimed models — recognised by the World Health Organisation, the British General Medical Council (UK) and by the US Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®). Her favourite classes include those in cardiology, internal medicine, and pathology.
She commends San Raffaele for its well-organised courses and for allowing students to explore their areas of interests. For Agrima, the basis of disease, diagnosis, and treatment stood out the most. She builds on this knowledge everyday thanks to the university’s “extremely practical” approach.
An unrivalled student experience awaits in Milan
Vita-Salute San Raffaele University offers its students the chance to spend time abroad during their final semester. They can take part in international electives, training activities, and clinical or research thesis internships around the world. However, time on campus is valued the most for many reasons.
It’s a hub of activity where surroundings are scenic and facilities are plenty. The residences — equipped with study spaces, a breakfast room, a TV room, laundry services, a fully-equipped gym and more — are just a walk away from the university, where several bars, cafes, and restaurants abound. . Close by, students could also make a stop at “Galleria delle Botteghe,” for groceries, to dine, buy a pizza, grab a drink at a bar, peruse a bookshop, and more.
It was the ideal destination for Abdallah Abba Aji to connect with his fellow international students on a deeper level.
“It was an incredibly helpful network to lean on as we were all going through the same things –– new country, new language, apartment hunting, and paperwork for things like insurance and residency,” enthuses the International MD graduate from Nigeria. “Those early years were made memorable by the fact that we were all experiencing this new environment together.”
Through these, Abdallah developed lasting friendships. Together, they experienced and appreciated the Italian culture they might’ve read about in “Under the Tuscan Sun” or “A Farewell to Arms.”
Agrima agrees: “From the majestic Duomo to famous paintings by prolific artists, unique art galleries, and cobble-stoned lanes with coffee shops galore –– there is something for everyone to do here,” she says.
“As they say, one learns to appreciate how to live life only when they come to Italy.”