EXPERIENCE IN AN OBSERVERSHIP ADVENTURE… by Helem Vilchez Rueda
I would like to start by saying that it is always interesting to know new cultures, countries, learn other languages or discover different ways of working. Fortunately, Son Espases University Hospital gives its residents the opportunity to make an observership in another hospital for three months during the last year of the specialty, and in my case I chose the Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève in Switzerland, where the main language is french.
And the truth is one that it was one of the best experiences that I have ever had; to get to know another hospital, its organization and infrastructure, with all its differences is very special indeed. The first days were a little hard because of the language and the system although after this initial period I enjoyed and tried to gain and take in all the new knowledge that I could.
So, when I was coming to Geneva, I could see the Alps through the airplane windows, all of these mountains with snow on their summits, which were welcoming me, making me take notice both of the weather and the beauty of the country. While we were descending I watched the extraordinary places in this city, places where I would walk at weekends. Leaving the airport, I felt a cold air touch my face that said, “I’m in Switzerland…”, but then I realized that this climate contrasts with the warmth of its people. After this short introduction about my feeling on arriving in this country, which I had previously only known by name and by seeing it in google maps I would like to continue by telling you my experience in the hospital that hosted me for three months from January to March this year.
The Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève consists of seven hospitals, but only four of them are in Geneva and they are: Hôpital principal, Maternité, Hôpital des enfants, Hôpital Beau- Sejour (Intermediate care and rehabilitation Center), Hôpital de psychiatrie, Hôpital de Bellerive et Hôpital de Loëx. The main building has 1,800 hospitalization beds and serves a population of 482,545 people. I made my rotation in the Infectious Disease Service which is made up of: General infectious diseases, HIV infection, Control program of antibiotics, musculoskeletal and orthopedic infections, transplants of solid organs and hematological and Microbiology. In my case I was fortunate to be able to rotate in all of these sections, spending most of my time between solid organ transplantation, orthopedic infections and general infectious diseases – mainly concerned with inter-consultations-. This last section is composed of two residents of infectious diseases (elected every four years), two rotating internal medicine residents and two medical students – who can be from the University of Geneva or other countries like Belgium, so as you can imagine we formed a nice work group consisting of people who did not know each other but who liked what they were doing and were trying to learn from each other.
There are assistants responsible for each of the sections and they make rotating shifts every 2 weeks- making two periods of two weeks each year- as the chief medical reference for inter-consultations, so I had the opportunity to work with many of them and learn a lot from everybody.
In addition to the work and studying there is also the personal part that has been very gratifying to get to know such very good and friendly people with whom I shared good times and who have become good friends. I enjoyed rides at the weekends or delicious fondues near a fireplace while we discussed what had happened to us during the week. Moments that will always stay in my mind and are also responsible for making this one of the best times I have ever had away from home.
Finally, I wish to end this little story of my experience in external rotation by thanking God first (I am Catholic), and for everything given to me in these three months, my family – although far away (in Peru) are always very close me, and all the people who have supported me on this journey that I started: my assistants and friends. Thanks.