Reporter Hanna Lythgoe
Contact at destination Madame Leger, Erasmus exchange co-ordinator
Year of visit 2010
Region Angers, Loire valley
Institution Centre Hospitalier Universitaire d’Angers (CHU)
Department Paeds (8 weeks), O+G (8 weeks)
Work / Study undertaken Completing SAMPs (selective in advanced medical practice). Ward work in neonatology, neuropaediatrics and obstetrics and gynaecology. Working alongside French medical students
Description of the service and department
Paediatrics is a very large department at CHU but there is limited choice of area within paediatrics due to the large volume of students but the staff were very helpful and I was able to attend the lectures available to French medical students. O+G is also a large department and you are allowed to move around all the various parts including gynae A+E, post-natal ward, ante-natal ward, abortion centre, outpatients, surgery and ante-natal specialist investigations. You can get very involved in O+G including clerking patients, discharging patients, examining patients, scrubbing in for surgery etc and it was much more practical than paediatrics.
Description of the destination
Angers is the capital of the region of Anjou on the Loire valley. It is a beautiful city which has lots of bars and shops and a large student population. There is lots to do in the surrounding area including visiting the many chateaus and caves!
Were the local people friendly? Most people were very friendly. The students and staff at the hospital were really helpful and everyone says bonjour to everyone in the hospital so you feel welcome. We found that some of the medical secretaries were not very helpful.
Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes, I felt very safe at all times.
What did you do in your spare time ? We visited the surrounding area – Paris, chateaus on the Loire, Brittany etc. We also made use of the free French classes available for foreign students at the University – language and culture classes. There was also a free grammar class available to everyone in the city centre. We also cycled around the surrounding area – free bikes are available for everyone in Angers for up to a year (go to the Hotel de Ville to find out)
Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Visit the chateau of Chemonceau which is really beautiful. Go to the Lac du Maine which is in walking distance of Angers.
What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like?
January – April. It was really really cold when we first got there but always with bright blue skies and no snow although sometimes a little icy. By the end it was starting to warm up and we had some really hot days.
What was your accommodation like? We stayed in a foyer in the centre of Angers. It did the job but was girls only, no alcohol and when the cleaner went on holiday the toilets weren’t cleaned for a week so I wouldn’t particularly recommend it was cheap. I would definitely recommend getting city centre accommodation which is nearer the hospital as well rather than the University Halls. If you choose the Halls you will also be living with other foreign students rather than French students. All students in France get money towards accommodation (around 130 euros / month) through the CAF so definitely find out about this!
Was it provided? No
If not who arranged it? We arranged it ourselves. Students from our university had stayed there the year before.
How much did it cost? 260 euros per month (but only 130 euros once we got the CAF)
Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, it was a fantastic experience and a nice change from ordinary placement.
Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way?
I feel that I did not learn as much medically as I would if I had completed my placements in my home university but I did learn bits and I feel the other skills I developed and experiences I had far were definitely worth it.
Has it improved your French? Yes. It was really difficult at first but you soon get used to it and people are really helpful in helping you to understand and you learn to find patient people to help you out! By the end I felt confident enough to speak with patients and examine them as well.
How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Definitely! As well as living the French lifestyle for 4 months we also took a French culture class which was really interesting.
If you went back would you do anything differently? Improve my level of French before I arrived. Stay for longer if I could! Live somewhere else.
How did you get there? Eurostar/flight to Paris then train to Angers.
Is there any other information that you think may be useful? You get a free 3 course lunch every day! Make sure you make use of the free things – bikes, accommodation money and French classes (for all levels)
Reporter – Ruth Dodwell, University of Liverpool, 5th Year
Contact at Destination – Chantal Legaey (Medical School Secretary)
Year of Visit – 2009
Country – France
Institution – Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, ANGERS
Departments – Neurology (7 weeks) & Oncology (7 weeks)
Work Undertaken – Final Year Portfolio Placements (each placement requires 20 clinical cases & write ups & a 2500 word guideline or ethical review.
Service & Department – NEUROLOGY – General Neurology ward with everything from epilepsy, MND, MS, and strokes. I joined in with the other students roles of taking ECGs, doing Mini-mentals and telephoning for missing results. ONCOLOGY – Inpatient care including chemotherapy and palliative care patients. There were no other students on this ward so I had much more of a junior doctor role. I saw patients by myself, wrote in the notes and discussed their management with the doctors.
Description of the Destination – Angers is a very beautiful city. The cathedral and castle beside the river Maine make the traditional view. It is also on the Loire Valley so there are lots of castles and other beautiful places to visit nearby. The cycle paths along the Loire are another great way to explore the region.
Locals Friendly – Yes, although it depended. I joined the university athletics club which was a great way to meet people. However the students in hospital were less friendly due to exams and always going home at the weekends.
Safety? – I felt safe in Angers although it is a city so you still need to be careful.
* Running around St Nicolas Pond… not really a pond there is a 5k and an 8k route. It is really popular with runners especially on a Sunday morning.
* Drinking Hot Chocolates in Benoit Chocolat… plus a macaroon!
* Cointreau Factory tour and tasting… learn all about the history of Cointreau and then taste it in a variety of ways!
* I also visited Tours, Saumur, Nantes and Lyon.
Time of Year / Climate – January to April : January was very cold with snow but by March you could eat lunch outside and enjoy the sunshine in the many parks.
Accomodation – I rented a one bedroom flat from a medical student who was going to Liverpool as the other half of the exchange. It was 10 mins walk from hospital and just on the edge of town in an area called Saint Serge. (250 Euros/month)
Provided? – No; I was lucky to be able to get in contact with previous French students that had been in Liverpool.
Medically useful? – The oncology placement was very useful as I got into a good routine of fully examining each patient and thinking carefully about their management. The neurology placement was less useful as there were fwere opportunities to practice things independently.
Improved French? – Yes! By the end I could fully understand the nurses handover and was happy to talk to any patient alone.
French Culture? – It was a brilliant experience to be there for such a long time. I loved going to the market each Saturday morning and buying fresh bread each day.
How did you get there? – Eurostar : can change in Paris (be warned of the many stairs on the metro!) or Lille (takes 1 hour longer). The other option is Liverpool to Nantes with Ryan Air (although baggage allowance is only 15 Kg)
Other Information? – Foreign students get a free 3 course lunch at the staff canteen. This is well worth it!