Brago Afrifa-Sarpong and Akosua Otchere, from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Ghana, spent four weeks in Ann Arbor in November and December observing in their respective departments. They join nine other international medical students who have visited Michigan Medicine in 2023, learners who have come from partner schools in Japan, Israel, Ireland and Ghana. Prior to the pandemic, Michigan Medicine hosted about 40 visiting international students each year—and sent a comparable number of U-M medical students abroad for clinical rotations.
For students like Otchere and Afrifa-Sarpong, selected for the opportunity based on academic merit, a visit to Michigan Medicine in the final year of their training can be an impactful experience. Afrifa-Sarpong, who rotated in Pediatrics, was able to see how the department uses regular genetics testing for diagnosis—technologies that are nascent but growing in Ghana.
“It was interesting for me to have this kind of exposure,” she said. “I was able to interact with some patients who have cystic fibrosis, for example. That is a condition that is typically undiagnosed in our country.”
For Otchere, in Neurosurgery, the experience included watching new types of procedures and surgical techniques, but the true inspiration came from the people she met. In Ghana, Neurosurgery is a small field and dominated by men. There is only one female neurosurgeon in the entire country, Otchere said.
“The thing that struck me about Michigan was the fact that I met more women in the department of Neurosurgery than I expected,” she said. “They are all excellent and inspired me a whole lot.”