Olguta Lungu, Iasi, Romania
In September 2020, the pandemic’s safe window allowed me to participate in the ESAIC Trainee Exchange Program and I am glad and thankful I did. I had the opportunity to live for three months in a beautiful and quiet city, Dresden, Germany and to work in Dresden’s University Hospital “Carl Gustav Carus” alongside a professional and well-prepared team of anesthesiologists: Prof Dr Koch, Prof Dr Gama di Abreu, Dr Richter, Dr Vicent, Prof Dr Hubler and many others.
I am not going to lie, I thought that I would feel like an outsider at the beginning, especially because I didn’t speak German, but I was wrong. It wasn’t always easy, but all the personnel tried to talk to me and involve me as much as possible in the medical actions. And I was happy to do anything to help. They always explained in English the procedures I was interested in and they answered all my questions: both doctors and nurses. Doctors, residents, students and nurses worked together as a team and I never felt the hierarchy between them. Even the patients who didn’t speak English were very open and accepting of my involvement in the team.
This experience taught me a lot professionally, as well as on a personal level. It made me appreciate more my life and realise once again that I am a very fortunate person. I work at home in Iasi, Romania, in a high quality, professional, safe and friendly environment. However, this scholarship taught me that everyone could help improve the quality of our work and the patients’ well-being even by small changes in our practice, but also in our attitude and in our mentality.
I worked for three months in Dresden’s University Hospital “Carl Gustav Carus”, a big modern hospital with a touch of old architectural buildings. I rotated every other week in different departments of my interest in order to maximise my experience: first 3 weeks and the last one I spent it in the abdominal and thoracic surgery anaesthesia, 2 weeks in the obstetrics and gynaecological surgery anaesthesia, then 4 weeks of orthopaedics, plastic and trauma surgery anaesthesia and 2 weeks in the urology anaesthesia department.
My everyday goal was to learn something new and I truly had a lot to take in. The anaesthetic environment is similar to the hospital I work in – the Regional Oncology Institute, Iasi, Romania – where we also have high-quality standards, so I felt like I quickly integrated into the new setting: the same anaesthetic machines, similar anaesthesia techniques, similar monitoring. From what I came to observe, in addition, “Carl Gustav Carus” Hospital’s Anaesthesia Department has protocols for almost every manoeuvre or technique which the doctors follow, offers its doctors a larger variety of drugs to choose from and newer means of monitoring (Viva Sight selective intubation monitoring, Medasense pain monitoring). The anaesthesia induction and surgery patient prepping are organised differently, they use almost exclusively ultrasound guided regional anaesthesia techniques and they never forget about recycling and caring for the environment.
Also, the doctors have more involvement in clinical research and it is supported by the whole team, as they are very well organised and everyone gets involved in the studies taking part in that department if needed.
Furthermore, a major difference for me was the percentage of robotic surgery that is implemented in the hospital and the different techniques the surgeons use to detect organ malperfusion: robotic surgery using the Da Vinci Surgical System for the upper gastrointestinal tract and for the urology robotic-assisted procedures, and stereotactic navigation technology designed to assist in the planning, navigation and ablation of different tumours.
Another issue that I really want to emphasize is regarding the students’ involvement. In their last year of university study, they work fully as part of the team in the hospital. Although organisationally things are a bit different in my university, I will try to encourage this aspect more to the students I work with, because I can see the progress, and that their involvement as students making their beginning as residents easier, safer and with improved knowledge.
This experience rose to what I expected from the beginning: high-performance, rigorousness and passion. Dresden University Hospital proved that management quality stays in the details. So I went back home filled with excitement to share what I learned with my students and colleagues and to improve my own work, implement new protocols/techniques and have a better patient outcome. For my future practice, I was convinced to try to perform in my own hospital some of the new techniques that I saw, improve pain management by regional anaesthesia techniques and make my own experience.
What I regret is that I didn’t get the chance because of the pandemic to also visit the intensive care and pain management department. Also, a hand-on experience would have made my experience complete, because many of my mentors had the knowledge, passion and patience.
The pandemic made my stay more difficult, and it is now that we realise the important role of our family, friends and social life in influencing our work and our general wellbeing. So in Dresden, I fully channelled my time and energy into this scholarship. But I had the chance to meet new people each day at the hospital that were very friendly, some of whom I will definitely keep in touch with in the future. I also enjoyed the small lifestyle change, as Dresden is a very beautiful city, a merge between old and new and going each day to the hospital by bike along Elbe River was like a vacation.
I will definitely recommend this hospital and team of doctors for future ESAIC Trainee Exchange Program applicants. It is definitely worth it!
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