November 14, 2022

Brazil elective provides ‘career-informing’ experience

A clinical elective in Brazil afforded Aurelio Muzaurieta the opportunity to experience a new health system and practice medicine in a new language.

The fourth-year UMMS student spent most of July at the Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology, part of Clinics of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of São Paulo, Latin America’s largest teaching and research hospital and a longtime institutional partner of UMMS.

Aurelio A. Muzaurieta at the IOT entrance
Muzaurieta at the Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology entrance.  

“I had the opportunity to communicate in the native language daily in a clinical context, a hard skill that will be invaluable when patients who speak Portuguese–the sixth most commonly spoken language in the world—seek my care in the future,” said Muzaurieta.

Funded in part by a Clinical Elective Grant from Global REACH, Muzaurieta’s four-week experience included opportunities to scrub in and observe surgical procedures, interviewing patients, working with both inpatient and outpatient care teams, and accompanying physicians to remote hospitals that care for underserved, rural populations.

He saw an array of cases, from a surgical ACL reconstruction for a professional soccer player to a patient who suffered serious spinal and neck injuries when a jackfruit fell from a tree. (Picture an overgrown fig weighing 50 pounds or more.)

He also prepared and delivered a one-hour presentation in Portuguese about the American medical education system to medical students, residents, faculty, and researchers at University of São Paulo. In November 2022, Muzaurieta was invited to present his experience at the American Association of Medical College's Annual Conference in Nashville.

“My rotation in Brazil was the most impactful and career-informing clinical experience I have had in medical school,” Muzaurieta said. “Not only did the experience improve my medical Portuguese, but I also feel more nimble navigating new clinical and administrative environments and better equipped to serve patients in high-volume settings.”

Read more about his experience in Brazil in the UMMS Dose of Reality blog.