Natasha Mazumder first heard about Masaryk University from her father, who is a paediatrician working in the UK. He has worked with several Masaryk University graduates over his career and was so happy with their performance that he did not hesitate to recommend the Faculty of Medicine at Masaryk University to his daughter.
Both of them first visited the campus of the MU Faculty of Medicine eight years ago, when Natasha arrived in Brno to take her entrance exams. “I applied to several universities around Europe, but as soon as I saw Brno and the university, I immediately knew that this was where I wanted to study. I loved living in Brno: there was something going on all the time and it was always full of students and young people. And on top of all that, the city wasn’t too big – the size was just right. I was also impressed by the university facilities: on the Open Day, me and my parents admired all the departments, biochemical labs, and libraries,” says Natasha about her first visit to the regional capital of South Moravia.
Brno and Masaryk University afterwards became her home for six years. Most of that time, she lived in the dormitories at Vinařská, which often host international students who come for short-term exchange visits in addition to Czech students. Thanks to this arrangement, she met people from all over the world and still keeps in touch with them.
Four years of Czech classes made life in Brno easier
However, she also found friends among Czechs and even though she went back to the UK and her family after graduation, she still meets up with her Czech university friends. “Czech people are really nice and friendly. They always helped me out when I needed it,” says Natasha, who graduated from the English-language programme at the MU Faculty of Medicine.
Moving to the Czech Republic was no cultural shock for her – mainly, as she says, because Czech people are so nice and friendly. She quickly got used to her new home; as a child, she grew up in many different places – such as India and Ireland – before her family settled in England.
Her first language is Bengali, but she also speaks English, Hindi, and French. In Brno, she also learned Czech. Medical students in the English programme must attend Czech courses taught at the faculty from their first through their fourth year, as they need to communicate with patients during their traineeships at clinical facilities. After eight semesters of Czech studies, they reach the B1 (or intermediate) level, which means that they are able to communicate in everyday situations. This also means that the medical students do not have to rely solely on English and can make themselves understood in Czech not only in hospitals, but also in shops and restaurants.
She always wanted to become a paediatrician
Graduating from a six-year study of medicine is just the beginning for Natasha. It is the first step on the way to gain her qualifications and specialisations, which will take another ten years. After completing her studies, she worked at the rheumatology department at London’s Royal Free Hospital, where she spent six months working with adult patients with musculoskeletal disorders.
Afterwards, she transferred to the south of England, to a children’s hospital in Southampton, in order to start her paediatric specialisation, which involves working in different departments of the hospital for six months at a time. “I love working with children. Although it is special in many ways and requires a different way of communicating and explaining everything in a playful language, I find working with children and their families to be very fulfilling,” says Natasha.
She first worked at the traumatology and orthopaedics department. Currently, she is about to complete her six months at the neonatal intensive care unit, where she has been taking care of sick newborns and premature babies from Southampton and the South East England region. “Our unit has 36 beds for sick babies who need intensive and special care. Some of the newborns are born as early as at 26 weeks and they are tiny, just a few dozen centimetres in height. It is fascinating to see them go through all of the stages of development in the incubator and gradually get better,” describes Natasha.
A team of fifteen to eighteen nurses and nine doctors working in 12-hour shifts takes care of the newborns. For comprehensive care, the neonatal team works in close cooperation with other specialists in surgery, genetics, internal secretion disorders and neurology.
“Even though I’m very busy at work and I don’t have much free time, it has always been my dream to become a paediatrician. I enjoy the feeling of helping someone feel better and smile again,” says the young physician.
In mid June, the MU Faculty of Medicine organised the very first meeting of the English-language programme in General Medicine and Dentistry. Despite her busy work schedule, Natasha found the time to visit Brno along with thirty other graduates to meet her classmates and teachers. As she concludes, “It is not easy to get together, as each of us left to work in a different country or continent after graduation. A lot of my classmates work at great places and are at the start of a promising career. It was inspiring to see them again and see how far they’ve got.”
The English-language programme at the Faculty of Medicine, Masaryk University has been open to international students for twenty years. During that time, there have been 350 graduates of the General Medicine and Dentistry programmes, who now work all over the world. While the programme was most popular among the Portuguese five years ago, nowadays it is the Brits.
Masaryk University organises separate entrance exams in Brno, Vienna, and Lisbon and works with agencies to organise them not only in other European capitals, but also in Japan, Thailand, and Israel. Studies in the English-language programme are paid; the university’s tuition fee is 250,000 Czech crowns per academic year.