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Tuesday, 15 March 2016 08:47

A warm welcome at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India

Vellore, Tamil Nadu in southern India in January. Warm and pleasant, rather like a good English summer but the locals say it is a bit too chilly! I am glad January was chosen for my ISN Educational Ambassador visit to the Christian Medical College (CMC) – before the monsoon season and the seriously hot weather in the middle of the year.

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My flight was delayed so upon arrival I headed straight to an all-day glomerular disease workshop attended by several hundred people, mostly trainees in nephrology joining other faculty from across India. A very interactive session with keypads to allow everyone to answer questions set by the speakers. No one hesitates taking the microphone to put the speakers on the spot.Feehally Vellore EAP Jan 2016 2

The following day during the annual Vellore course to help trainees prepare for the Indian national DM examination in nephrology, willing “volunteers” from among the couple of hundred trainees go to the podium to discuss a case and be “grilled” by two “examiners”. It is just like the real examination, except that audience of trainees watch as the candidates fall into every trap the examiners set. I can tell you, I was glad we did not have a nephrology examination like that in the UK when I was young!

After a Sunday to relax and acclimatise a little, it was time for a week of teaching on glomerular disease with the Vellore team as well as a group of trainees from Chennai, Kerala and other centers nearby. Days on the wards or in the seminar room stretch into more enjoyable ‘kidney talk’ every evening. It was a pleasure to work with a bunch of individuals so eager to learn. The cases I saw had serious diagnostic or treatment challenges. They had already been well worked out with a high quality of diagnostic and clinical management planning.

Feehally Vellore EAP Jan 2016 1

There is impressive local renal pathology expertise onsite and laboratory support is good. A clinical information system, giving rapid access to laboratory and imaging reports, functions better than in many places I have seen in the so-called ‘developed’ world. Discussions were fun and stretching. Of course, like all ISN Educational Ambassadors, I received as much as I gave, I learned as much as I taught, especially about the challenges of working in a low-resource setting, notably in handling restrictions in medication options.

And, then there was the sheer volume of work. CMC Vellore’s reputation has reached far and wide across India and beyond. Without an appointment, people travel for several days then wait many more until they can be seen in the clinic. The hospital teems with people, clinics are enormous.

Feehally Vellore EAP Jan 2016 4

Nephrology at CMC Vellore is already very good. ISN hopes to lend its support through an ISN Sister Center partnership to help the center grow in clinical and research excellence and begin to reach out with its services and training to other centers in southern India.

Thanks to all my new friends in Vellore – I shall not forget your generous warm welcome.

Find out more about the ISN Educational Ambassador Program, CLICK HERE

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