My academic experience in New Zealand

Rahul Patil MD, Fellowship (Rheumatology)
Consultant Rheumatologist, Dr Rahul Patil’s Arthritis & Rheumatology Center, Kolhapur, Maharastra

Embarking on a transformative journey in March 2023, I eagerly ventured into the realm of Rheumatology, with an exhilarating five-week observership course awaiting me at the prestigious Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand. The sun-kissed landscapes of this idyllic region perfectly mirrored my burgeoning excitement, as I prepared to immerse myself in the world of specialized clinics, focusing on the enigmatic conditions of systemic sclerosis, vasculitis, myositis, and spondyloarthritis.

My first encounter took place within the realm of systemic sclerosis, a complex connective tissue disorder that challenges both patients and clinicians alike. Under the guidance of Dr. Kamal Solanki, Senior Rheumatologist, I witnessed the multidisciplinary approach employed to address the myriad manifestations of this condition. From dermatological alterations to the insidious impact on internal organs, I marvelled at the comprehensive care provided to patients. I was fortunate to witness different variants of systemic sclerosis. Witnessing their resilience amidst adversity instilled in me a profound appreciation for the unwavering commitment of the medical team.

Next, I delved into the captivating world of vasculitis, an intriguing collection of disorders that intricately intertwines inflammation and vascular damage. Assisting during patient evaluations, I gained insights into the meticulous diagnostic strategies employed, allowing for tailored treatment plans. It was great to discuss various differences in the treatment protocols & availability of drugs used in vasculitis in India & NZ with Dr. Vicky Quincey, Head of Department & President NZ Rheumatology Association.

As the course progressed, I found myself immersed in the captivating intricacies of myositis, a family of diseases that mercilessly target muscles. Collaborating with specialists in the field, I observed the challenges faced in accurately diagnosing these conditions and the subsequent individualized treatment plans. Witnessing the collective efforts to restore strength and mobility to myositis patients, I discovered the powerful impact that empathy and perseverance can have on patient outcomes. Got to see a rare case of ANO5 Muscle Disease with Dr. Uri Arad, Clinical Lecturer in Rheumatology.

Lastly, my journey through Rheumatology led me to the captivating realm of spondyloarthritis, a diverse group of chronic inflammatory conditions primarily affecting the spine and joints. Participating in clinic sessions, I witnessed the vital role of comprehensive assessments and early intervention in mitigating disease progression and enhancing quality of life. Witnessing the positive impact of tailored treatment plans, I grasped the significance of empowering patients to become active participants in their own care.

As my observership course drew to a close, I reflected upon the invaluable experiences gained during my time at Waikato Hospital. The profound knowledge and skills acquired under the tutelage of the exceptional rheumatologists has indelibly shaped my understanding of these complex conditions. From the specialized clinics in systemic sclerosis, vasculitis, myositis, and spondyloarthritis, I learned that patient care transcends the confines of medical expertise; it requires compassion, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to improving lives.

It was not all academics; I had plenty of fun too! From the moment I arrived in Christchurch, I was captivated by its charm and resilience. As I ventured further, I encountered the majestic Fiordland National Park, where towering mountains kissed the serene waters of Milford Sound. Exploring Queenstown’s adrenaline-fueled activities and Wanaka’s tranquil landscapes left an indelible mark on my soul. The ethereal beauty of Franz Josef Glacier and the pristine shores of Abel Tasman National Park were moments of pure bliss. With each passing day, South Island unfolded its natural wonders, etching memories that will forever beckon me back to its enchanting embrace. During my five weeks of training I also managed to experience the marvelous city of Auckland, unique Hobbiton House, magical Waitomo Glowworm caves & amazing Geothermal activities at Roturoa in the North Island.

Armed with newfound insights and a sense of purpose, I depart from the breathtaking landscapes of NZ, grateful for the opportunity to have witnessed the extraordinary world of Rheumatology at Waikato Hospital. The memories forged and the bonds formed will forever inspire me as I embark on my own journey to make a lasting impact in the field of healthcare.

I thank Dr. Vinod Ravindran & Dr. Kamal Solanki for their guidance & support throughout my journey. Lastly, I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Arvind Chopra for inspiring me for this training program. 

Team at Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand