Jalel Hamza

Jalel Hamza

Alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine and intern in pediatrics

Choosing Sorbonne University also meant that I would be studying under very good conditions. At the Faculty of Medicine, we are fortunate to have state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment.

Jalel Hamza, an alumnus of the Faculty of Medicine, dreams of taking care of an unborn child from the very first minutes of its life. Currently a pediatric intern in the neonatal intensive care unit at Necker Hospital, he tells us why he chose Sorbonne University, how he invested in it during his internship, and how it has contributed to making him the health professional he is today.

You are currently a pediatric intern at Necker Hospital. Why did you decide to study medicine, and specialize in pediatrics?

Jalel Hamza: I wanted to do a job that corresponded to my values and ideals. A profession in which I could directly feel useful to others, by living through situations that are sometimes extreme—both in pain and in joy.

Moreover, I have always loved science, especially physics. Medicine enables me to combine these two areas.  
I chose pediatrics because it gave me the opportunity to see a human being grow up and to take care of him or her from the first seconds of life until adulthood. Moreover, I have always kept in mind that children are the first victims of poverty and instability. To be a pediatrician means also being able to offer prevention and global care for a developing individual.

Why did you choose to study at Sorbonne University?

J. H.: I chose Sorbonne University for the excellence of its practice, teaching and research. Attached to major hospitals such as Pitié-Salpêtrière and Saint-Antoine, the Faculty of Medicine at Sorbonne University is a renowned institution that welcomes brilliant practitioners and professors. It is also a place where the latest medical innovations are developed, such as the Quinze-Vingts, a reference center in ophthalmology.

Choosing Sorbonne University also meant that I could be sure of very good studying conditions. At the Faculty of Medicine, we are fortunate to have state-of-the-art infrastructures and equipment. For example, we have a simulation platform where we learn pediatric care procedures on small silicone mannequins the size of an eight-month-old child. We have resuscitation classes, learn how to insert infusions, perform cardiac massages, and intubate a newborn thanks to these mannequins. Unfortunately, this system does not exist in all medical schools.

Finally, Sorbonne University offers many courses in which we can reorient ourselves if we do not pass the entrance exam for health studies. More generally, we can create many bridges between science and medicine.  

When you were a resident at the Faculty of Medicine, did you get involved in student life at the university?  

J. H.: Yes, of course. In my second year, in order to give back a little of what I had received in previous years, I started by joining the team of tutors at the Faculty of Medicine and accompanying the PACE1] students as they approached their competitive examination.

At the same time, I joined the association Les Théâtreux de la paillasse before becoming its president and co-director in my third year. I coordinated a troupe of about twenty students with whom I spent some memorable moments. I represented the association to the faculty, put together the financing files, presented them to the FSDIE2 commission, and took care of the logistical management with another student, the association's treasurer. A series of theatrical performances closed the year. We performed in front of an audience of nearly 600 people in total on the stage of a real theater rented for the occasion thanks to the financing of the FSDIE. Today, I continue to keep in touch with the new members of the association, in order to maintain this intergenerational link between the classes.

In my fourth year, I became a student representative. I then launched a conference project on humanitarian issues with a military doctor as well as a doctor and a logistician from Doctors Without Borders. In the long run, I would like to continue in this direction. Humanitarian and social work are part of my convictions. Having been lucky enough to get to medical school, it seems obvious to me to give my time to help those less fortunate.

What do you remember about Sorbonne University?

J. H.: The beautiful encounters!
As early as the third year of medicine, we were in an internship with health professionals who were true models for our lives, but also for our careers.

I remember one of my clinic heads who fought at two o'clock in the morning to save a patient, or a doctor who was used to dealing with life-threatening emergencies and who was capable of the same consideration and attention towards people who came to the emergency room just to be reassured. It is humbling. These are moments that we don't forget and that push us to surpass ourselves. By working with these health professionals, we grow. It is also these encounters that validate our choice of education.

Sorbonne University is also a memory of mutual help between students in difficult moments, an esprit de corps, solidarity and very good times.

As an intern, what are your daily missions?

J. H.: I am currently in the first year of my internship in the neonatal intensive care unit at Necker Hospital. As a young intern, I am beginning to experience real patient care situations, to come into direct contact with parents but also with the entire medical ecosystem.
When you become an intern, you have to find your place, realize that you don't know anything, start from scratch and work hard to learn your job.

I work in the hospital from Monday to Friday, 10 hours a day. Even if I have 3 half-days of theoretical courses per month in different pediatric hospitals, my training is mainly done in the field in contact with patients and clinicians. The medical teams are well aware of our status as doctors in training.
With time, our supervisors entrust us with increasingly complex situations and greater responsibilities. Little by little, I will take charge of resuscitations in the delivery room, intubate newborns in increasingly urgent situations, for example, but this is done gradually and always under the supervision of the doctor who can, at any time, take over if there is a problem. This companionship is really important and very formative.

After a day spent in the hospital, I realize, afterwards, that I acted as a doctor, that I took medical responsibilities, that I made prescriptions, that I reacted in an emergency situation, that I reassured parents, and that I am gradually becoming an entity of my own. I am gradually becoming an integral part of the hospital, actively participating in the care of patients.

How do you see the next step in your career?

J. H.: I would like to complete my five-year internship in pediatrics with a residency (i.e. additional years of training in the pediatric department of a public clinic). I would also like to go abroad for a year to train in public health and humanitarian work. I will then try to join humanitarian organizations to do pediatrics in the field and better understand those challenges. In the longer term, I may go into crisis management or epidemiology.

What advice would you give to a student who wants to study medicine?

J. H.: First of all, think it over carefully, because it's a real commitment. It takes many years of study in a very particular environment and we are there, above all, to help others. From our first years of training, we are confronted with situations that can be very hard psychologically.

But once you are sure you want to go down this path, it is worth the cost. It's rewarding on every level. No two days are the same; we discover new things and new people every day. For me, being a doctor is the best job in the world.

1] First year of Health Studies
2] Fonds de Solidarité et de Développement des Initiatives Etudiante