A Russian Expedition: Karthika Suresh's Narratives from North Caucasian State Academy
Name: Karthika Suresh
Birth Place: Madurantakam , Tamil Nadu, India
Academic Qualification: MBBS from North Caucasian State Academy, Russia (Admission Batch: 2019)
Languages you speak/write: Tamil, English and Russian
Welcome to our exploration of campus life. In this interview series, we engage in meaningful conversations with Karthika Suresh to delve into the heart of campus life.
Hello Karthika Suresh, welcome to MedBound Times. Please give a brief introduction about yourself to our readers.
Karthika Suresh: I'm currently in my fourth year of studying medicine in Russia. Currently, I'm on my holiday break. I began my journey into content writing during my second year, precisely when the lockdown started. While I've been engaging in content writing, I've primarily focused on topics outside of the medical field. However, I'm eager to transition towards medical content writing, which is why I've applied to Med-Bound.
Why did you choose MBBS?
Karthika Suresh: My goal is to become an oncologist.
What do you learn from this profession? Or what’s the best part of your profession?
Karthika Suresh: So, that's why I aspire to become an oncologist. This journey begins with pursuing my MBBS. Well, the most valuable lesson I've learned is that it's not always easy to address the various challenges life presents, especially in the realm of healthcare. However, what stands out the most is that there are solutions available to alleviate these difficulties. My main goal is to understand how to effectively provide these solutions.
Tell us something about the campus and hostel life.
Karthika Suresh: When it comes to studying in Russia, one of the first things I appreciate is the emphasis on promoting understanding and respect among people. This aspect extends to my colleagues and classmates as well. Contrary to common misconceptions about studying abroad, I haven't encountered any instances of racism in my area or at my university. This lack of racism is a significant advantage of studying in Russia.
Furthermore, the professors at my university are consistently dedicated to addressing our queries. They patiently assist us every time we seek clarification, making the learning experience very enriching. The educational approach also emphasizes practical learning. We engage in numerous practical sessions, including attending forensic classes and various hands-on activities.
Regarding hostel life, it strikes a balance between leniency and necessary discipline. While certain rules are in place to ensure a suitable environment for student life, they aren't overly strict. In terms of accommodation, both male and female students share the same facility, but there's a separation in terms of living quarters. Our hostel is co-ed in nature, and this arrangement works well for us.
Could you describe the characteristics of the mess food at your college?
Karthika Suresh: In my college, the concept of a mess no longer exists due to the discomfort it caused to us, the students. Consequently, the student population decreased, leading to the closure of the mess facility. Presently, we are responsible for our own meals.
We prepare our meals independently, although managing both our studies and cooking poses challenges in terms of time management. Despite this, we persevere. While purchasing raw ingredients to cook for a larger group of people can be expensive and not very affordable, self-cooking remains a viable option. Unlike mess food, self-cooking has proven to be a more economical and satisfactory solution.
Are your colleagues primarily Russians or Indians?
Karthika Suresh: We have a mixed group of students in our program. I have a total of six years of study ahead of me. In the initial three years, the medium of instruction is entirely in English. However, in my college, there's a unique aspect. We encounter Russian patients and are required to communicate with them.
Starting from the fourth year, our subjects are taught in Russian, and our professors deliver lectures in Russian as well. This shift to the Russian language applies to all aspects of our education. Up until the third year, the instruction is conducted entirely in English. However, from the fourth year onwards, we learn medicine in Russian to effectively interact with patients. It's noteworthy that my classmates are Indians.
During lectures, there is a mixture of both Russian and Indian students, with the instruction being delivered in a combined manner.
Do you translate Russian language into English, or you are comfortable with Russian language?
Karthika Suresh: It's quite challenging, to be honest. Rather than feeling comfortable, it's more like managing two mental processes simultaneously. One involves understanding the medical concepts, while the other requires translating them into Russian. Consequently, I mostly study subjects in English, maintaining an English-based approach.
About a month before exams and patient interactions, I translate my prepared materials from English to Russian. My regular study routine involves working with English material, and then I switch to Russian for exam and patient-related contexts.
Regarding practicals, are clinical rotations part of the curriculum, similar to what is done in India? Do you also have to participate in demonstrations and internships?
Karthika Suresh: Yes, we do have clinical rotations like they do in India. We engage in practical classes and these sessions typically span from the first week of September to around the 27th of September. Following this, we have a practical exam in the first week of October. If I happen to miss any of these practical classes in September, I intend to attend the practical sessions every Sunday from October to March. This way, I can catch up on what I missed and also participate in the exams.
Are the teachers supportive and encouraging towards Indian students?
Karthika Suresh: Absolutely, the professors here are quite similar to those in India. If we make mistakes, we do receive constructive criticism. When it comes to motivation and encouragement, the approach is consistent across both Russian and Indian students. There is no discernible differentiation between how they treat Russian and Indian students. In terms of knowledge sharing, everyone is on an equal footing.
Did you ever experience a moment when you initially arrived in Russia where you felt like returning to India and not continuing your studies there?
Karthika Suresh: Honestly, I haven't experienced homesickness or the desire to return to India so far. When I started in Russia, I was quite focused on my studies. My parents enrolled me in this college, and I just went along with it, thinking about my career. During my first year, the workload was quite intense, with subjects like language, maths, physics, and chemistry, including math for medical students. This busy schedule left me with no time to feel homesick.
I actually never observed anyone in my college feeling homesick either. It wasn't just about me but seemed to be a common sentiment due to our packed schedules.
During my schooling, I aspired to study abroad. My goal was to become an oncologist. However, I was unsure about the path to achieving this during my 12th grade. I lacked information about procedures, exams, and even NEET UG, which is necessary for pursuing MBBS in India. Despite the news coverage, I remained uninformed. So, I conveyed to my parents my aspirations and asked them to guide me on the path. I was open to studying in any country, and Russia turned out to be a more budget-friendly option for my family compared to other choices like the Philippines.
What differences do you notice between the Russian and Indian healthcare systems?
Karthika Suresh: Our education system is stringent and effective, especially in terms of exams. It filters out the most dedicated students, ensuring only the best pursue their careers. This rigor is crucial in the medical field where accurate diagnosis takes precedence over treatment. Tough exams contribute to producing competent healthcare professionals.
What skills do you believe are essential for a successful medical career?
Karthika Suresh: Patient listening is crucial. A successful medical career requires not only expertise but also the ability to patiently listen to patients or their guardians. The right diagnosis can't be made in a state of confusion or urgency. As a doctor, maintaining a clear and focused mind is essential for accurately assessing a patient's condition.
Any advice for aspiring medical students and dreamers?
Karthika Suresh: If you're considering medicine, you need resilience in every aspect of life. It's not solely about studies, but about excelling in whatever you choose. Challenges might lead you to feel like giving up or feeling useless. There were moments when I cried before exams because of overwhelming stress. Feeling useless is normal, and it's important to accept that phase. Overcoming it is the key. Personally, I find comfort in speaking to others, even strangers, about how I feel. Remember, it's okay to feel down, but it's essential to rise together if you're pursuing a medical career.