Reporter: George Melling, 5th year medical student, Peninsula Medical School.
Contact at destination: Dr. Jean-Paul Berard, contacted through the administration at the nursing school. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Year of visit: 2011
Institution: Centre Hospitalier Albertville Moutiers (http://www.chub.org.rw)
Work / Study undertaken;
I was mostly working in theatres and the recovery room. I also saw patients before surgery and helped with assessment of anaesthetic risk. There were 4 theatres which could run simultaneously, with one anaesthetist for all of them, and a specialist nurse in each one. This meant there was plenty of opportunity to practise airway management, spinal anaesthetic etc. I also went to pre-assessment clinics and learnt about by assisting with loco-regional anaesthesia such femoral blocks.
Description of the service and department: The department of anaesthesia supports the department of surgery in Albertville district hospital. Many of the same staff work at the partner hospital in Moutiers which was closed for operations for the summer. Most of the work in the Alps is in winter when there are plenty of skiing accidents. Albertville was running a reduced service and I was often finished by lunch time.
Description of the destination: The Alps are a beautiful part of France, at any time of year. Albertville is a previous winter Olympics town, is at the meeting point of three big valley systems and near many ski resorts such as Val Thorens, Courcheval and further up the Tarentaise valley is Val d’Isere. It’s also quite close to bigger towns of Annecy and Chambery.
Were the local people friendly? Yes, certainly those who worked at the hospital did everything to make my stay as enjoyable as possible- lent me a bike, gave me lifts into the mountains, invited me to dinner or out with them.
Did you feel safe and if not why not? Most areas of France are very safe from the point of view of other people but I guess I would take similar precautions to back home if being out late.
What did you do in your spare time? Most days weren’t too long which left plenty of time for exploring the local countryside. Albertville isn’t a massive tourist town but does have a medieval part which is worth a look, and a museum which was average. I was lucky enough to borrow a bike so could explore a bit further afield. Annecy is reachable by bike on a great new bike-only road (can get busy at weekends). Many of the famous cycling “cols” are accessible from Albertville in an afternoon, day or weekend ride.
Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? Find a way to get up into the mountains for walking, cycling, climbing- or just eating local cheese and pastries whilst looking at the stunning views.
What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like? I went July to early August, which was great- the weather was often hot and sunny but in the mountains wasn’t unbearable.
What was your accommodation like? By calling about apartments online I finally found a place with a basic room in an old lady’s house. She has a few such rooms and doesn’t really advertise them. Her number is 0033479324249
Was it provided? No
If not who arranged it? Me
How much did it cost? 250EUR / month.
Did you enjoy your visit? Yes
Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way? Yes. I had plenty of chance to practice cannulation. I also got to do many of the anaesthetic skills such as basic airway management through to endo-tracheal intubation, induction, crash induction, spinal anaesthesia and epidurals. Anaesthetists and anaesthetic nurses were keen to teach informally, but there were no other students or trainees so there was no formal teaching programme.
Has it improved your French? Yes definitely. Although some of the doctors could speak a little English, everyone spoke to me in French all the time.
How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? Yes- I went to the cinema to watch French films, ate local specialties such as cheeses and meats and drank the local wine, went looking for chamois with a hunter and of course watched le Tour with locals in the pub.
If you went back would you do anything differently? Take a bike (although I was lucky enough to borrow one, or maybe go with someone else as there weren’t other students around.
How did you get there? Swissair Heathrow to Geneva for £100 bought online.
Approximate total cost? £650 for 1 month as
Food and going out £200
Is there any other information that you think may be useful? No