March 19, 2024

Welcoming students from AKU, a new international partner, to Michigan Medicine

Two medical students from the Aga Khan University Medical College in Karachi are the first from that institution to visit UMMS for clerkship rotations.

Aga Khan University Medical College student Hafsa Tareen is among the first from that institution to visit Michigan Medicine for a clinical rotation.

Hafsa Tareen and Iqra Munawar are both rotating this month in the Nephrology Division of the Internal Medicine Department. For Tareen, who first asked to visit UMMS more than a year ago, the attraction to Michigan Medicine was the reputation.

“There’s an incredible alumni network. As a student, I realized as I read literature or articles that there always seemed to be at least one doctor from the University of Michigan,” she said. “I wanted to meet some of those doctors and learn from them in person.”

Aga Khan University (AKU) opened its first campus in Karachi, Pakistan in 1983 and has since expanded to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan, and the United Kingdom. Its medical school in Pakistan is considered the best in the country. AKU launched a partnership with U-M in 2022 focused on data science in East Africa. Michigan Medicine expanded the relationship last year with a formal student exchange agreement with the Pakistan campus.

“AKU has become an important partner for the global health community at the University, and I am very pleased that we’ve been able to open our doors to their medical students for exchange,” said Joseph Kolars, Director of Global REACH at UMMS and the U-M Center for Global Equity. “Not only will their trainees benefit, but their presence here enhances our own learning community.”

Because Michigan Medicine is larger than the AKU Hospital and a specialty care destination, Tareen and Munawar have been able to experience aspects of nephrology not often encountered back home.

“There so many different types of cases that we would not have the opportunity to see back home,” said Munawar. “Because it is an academic center, we are in a position to explore things in great detail for all of the patients.”

“And everyone has been really helpful and taking the time to explain what is going on with patients,” she added. “No matter what questions we have, they guide us through every single thing. They’ve been very supportive.”

Both she and Tareen are in their final year of the 5-year MD program at AKU and preparing to begin their internships. The insights gleaned during their rotations in Ann Arbor will have an enduring impact as they begin their careers, Tareen said.

“Being here has validated my interest in medicine and specifically in internal medicine. I realized how solutions-oriented it can be,” she said. “As a visitor, I can see what is happening here and take home a vision of what might be different—a first step toward long-term change.”