Reporter: Deniz Üstüner, Final Year Medical Student at King’s College London
Contact at destination: Dr Bernard Audema
Year of visit: 2018 Country: France Region: Avoriaz
Institution: Avoriaz Centre Medical
Department: Medicine/Trauma and Orthopaedics
Work / study undertaken: I spent 4 weeks in Winter at the Medical Centre in Avoriaz. The clinic is split into two parts: Medicine and Trauma. There isn’t a massive resident population in Avoriaz so the medicine side of the clinic sees patients walking in with coughs, colds, sexual health and some psychiatry. The trauma side alternates between being quiet to being incredibly busy. Sometimes patients walk in by themselves, other times the radios of the ski patrol will be on a continuous loop.
I was able to shadow a patient’s journey from the moment they arrived at reception and were triaged. A trauma patient was always very quickly seen by the doctor. If a fracture was suspected, they were wheeled straight away into the X-Ray room. If this was still inconclusive but the patient was in a lot of pain, an Ultrasound would be carried out. I saw patients who were both French and English. It was a great elective to become familiar with interpreting many various presentations of limb fractures!
Description of the destination: Being in the mountains is an absolutely beautiful and magical experience. When you look out of the window you can see skiiers passing by and assess what the slopes will by like when you have your days off!
Dress Code: Very Casual. You are provided with White Coats and everyone wears jeans and trainers in the Centre.
Hours: Went in 3 days a week from 9-7pm. Our university requirement was 24 hours a week. There can only ever be two medical students in the practice at any one time so you may have to alternate morning/afternoon if you go with a friend!
Description of the locality: A ski resort town located in Portes du Soleil which claims to have 650km of marked pistes. You won’t get bored if you love to ski or snowboard! Plenty of restaurants around as well.
Were the locals friendly: Yes. The doctors are very friendly!
Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes, felt completely safe. There are a lot of families that stay in Avoriaz.
What did you do in your spare time? Skiing, snowboarding, trail running, hiking, snowshoeing
Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Getting out on the slopes when you are not in clinic!
What time of the year were you there? Winter
What was the climate like? The temperature ranged from 13 degrees to minus 15. The clinic is sometimes a bit chilly, so it’s worth wearing a thermal layer.
What was your accommodation like? Stayed in an apartment in Morzine for 2 people. However there are accommodation options for seasonnaires in hostels which are a bit cheaper.
Was it provided? No
If no who arranged it? Self, through AirBnB
How much did it cost? Approx. £1200 per month. We went at peak time over the French holidays.
Did you enjoy your visit? Yes! We went in 3 days a week and were able to see a lot of ski injuries and had plenty of time to go out on the slopes.
Did you find the visit useful medically? – In what way? Yes! Became quite adept at noticing small shoulder, knee, clavicle and wrist fractures.
Has it improved your French? Definitely picked up some medical French lingo and the doctors were very willing to explain things afterwards and answer questions if you hadn’t quite picked up the finer nuances of the consultation.
How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Cheese and croissants are the way forward! Aside from that it’s very interesting to see what the expectations of patients are at a ski resort and how different people react to being told the severity of their injury.
If you went back would you do anything differently? No, not at all. If you want a sporty and active elective whilst seeing injuries straight of the slopes, then this is for you!
How did you get there? Easy Jet flight to Geneva (£100) and then a bus transfer (£60) which delivers you directly to your door.