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Studying under fire

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:0703124
  1. Laith K Qassim Al Rubaiy, resident doctor1
  1. 1Basra College of Medicine, Basra, Iraq

Laith K Qassim AlRubaiy describes studying medicine in the middle of war torn Basra, in Iraq, between April and July 2003

A few months were left until my final exams, after which I would be a fully qualified doctor, when they declared that war was at our door. None of us knew what to do. Everyone had been waiting for the final year, but we were told that it might be postponed and that we might need to study for another year because of the war.

A mixture of fear and hope existed. We all wanted the regime to be changed, but we wanted our graduation certificates as well. I was doing my internship in medicine at Basra Teaching Hospital. Many students from outside Basra returned home. They preferred to be with their families. I was one of the few students who stayed. At my house we filled a room with extra food and prepared special tanks to store kerosene for lamps and cooking. We taped the glass of the windows so that they would not break into pieces and cause injuries. We collected water for drinking because we were afraid that Saddam might pollute the drinking water, and we made an airtight room in the basement in case we were exposed to …

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