Reporter: Olivia Kingston, 5th year medical student
Year of visit: 2005
Region: Nice, Côte d’Azur
Institution: Hôpital Archet 2, CHU de Nice
Contact at destination: Professeur Boutté, Chef de service de pédiatrie
Work / Study undertaken:
I was encouraged to visit any department within paediatrics that I wished. While I was able to clerk patients, I was not permitted to perform any procedures such as blood taking or suturing. Having applied directly to the hospital and not through the university, my attendance was not officially registered, however I was encouraged attend student teaching if I felt that I would benefit from it.
My time was very self-directed and I feel that as a result, I gained the most from my 6 weeks in Nice. I spent a large proportion of time in a variety of paediatric clinics. These were particularly useful because I was able to expose myself to French medical terminology in addition to gaining medical knowledge. A further benefit of attending clinics was that the surgeons often invited me to attend their surgical lists and subsequent ward rounds. I am now adept at scrubbing-up the French way!
Having arrived in Nice with AS-Level French, by the end of my elective I was able to take basic histories from, and examine patients presenting to A&E. As a result of this experience, my confidence in speaking French has soared. My only regret is that I did not spend a larger proportion of my elective in
Description of the service and department:
Hôpital Archet 2 is stunning. It was built in 1995 and is one of 5 hospitals in Nice. Situated at the top of a hill overlooking Nice and the Côte d’Azur, the patients are totally spoilt with the most remarkable views. The hospital itself was built specifically for the departments of paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology and orthopaedics. It is huge, clean, well equipped and overstaffed.
The paediatric department is well organised and incredibly friendly. All members of staff were keen to help in any way that they could. I was particularly encouraged by the interest that the consulting doctors showed in my situation, being an English medical student on what I called an ‘elective.’ (On the rare occasions that they receive foreign medical students, they are often German in Nice).
Description of the destination:
Nice is a typically French. It has a beautiful old town where there are excellent Sunday markets, several art museums and most famously, the Promenade des Anglais-a ‘must-do’ walk along the seafront. The town is bustling and chaotic during the day and vibrant during the night. Unfortunately, Nice’s seafront is covered with pebbles however a short train/bus ride away and one is able to reach a number of tucked-away coves and less frequented sand beaches. Nice itself is not particularly picturesque as French Mediterranean towns go, but nevertheless it is a great base for visiting nearby sites such as Antibes and Monaco.
Were the local people friendly? Extremely! They will tolerate a poor French accent without reverting to English dialect!
Did you feel safe and if not why not? Nice felt incredibly safe with the possible exception of the roads. French drivers are extremely self-aware and as a result (and without wanting to stereotype) often careless.
What did you do in your spare time?
I visited all the ‘must see’ tourist sites, including the local museums and not-so-local picturesque beaches. The towns of Antibes and Monaco were particular highlights and both could easily fill a weekend away. Within Nice, I enjoyed skating along the Promenade des Anglais, catching up with friends on the beach, trips to the cinema, French food and nights out on the town. During the evening I sometimes worked in the hostel that I was staying at. I either made pizzas or ran the bar. As a hostel, it was incredibly sociable and I met countless numbers of American, Australian and Canadian travellers doing the ‘European tour.’ In addition, I was able to take private French lessons from a lady recommended by the hostel.
Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do?
§ Go roller-blading along Promenade des Anglais
§ Make the most of any outdoor festivals that are on: for example, the film, comedy, jazz and art festivals.
§ Have breakfast in the old town on Sunday morning and watch the market come alive.
§ Visit tourist information and
§ Visit Wayne’s one evening. A horrendous nightclub but definitely worth a visit….once!
Out of town
§ Antibes- the Picasso museum, the old town and the harbour.
§ Monaco- visit the old town, the aquarium and the casinos.
§ Cap d’Ail- the celebrity’s hideaway. A beautiful, tucked away beach with rocks to jump from and caves to explore.
What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like? 14th August – 27th September. It was the end of the summer and the temperature ranged between 27-30°C. Throughout the 6 weeks there were two large thunderstorms which were accompanied by 2 days of rain each. For the rest of the time the sky was mostly clear with the occasional cloudy day. Humidity was not a problem.
What was your accommodation like? I stayed in a hostel since I was not eligible for university accommodation. I would thoroughly recommend Villa Saint Exupery. It is a fair treck from the hospital-a 40 minute bus journey, however nothing could have bettered it in terms of friendliness and cleanliness. I paid £16/night for a single room including breakfast. While this is relatively expensive, I was able to recoup a large amount of the cost by working in the bar or the kitchen in the evenings.
Was it provided? No, I had to arrange it myself through the internet. No one at the University or Hospital was able to help.
How much did it cost? £16/night
Did you enjoy your visit? Very much, I am already considering going back there to work in a few years time.
Did you find it useful medically? – in what way?
Yes, to an extent. I learnt that the French medical system is very different from the British. For example, the medical insurance scheme of paying for healthcare seems to work very well and as a result, doctors are very much more care-free when it comes to ordering investigations. I learnt that I would like to work as a doctor in France in the future. However, in terms of raw medical knowledge, I learnt very little.
Has it improved your French? Absolutely.
How has it increased your knowledge of French culture?
I am very much more aware of the relaxed attitude of the French. Meal times were extremely important, not least lunch-time. There would never be any question of grabbing a sandwich off a drug rep for a quick lunch on the go. The French doctors took a full hour for lunch every day. This was a time to relax and laugh with friends (colleagues), while being served a three course meal comprising of a variety of traditional French cuisine (and never excluding frites of some sort!). If any time remained following lunch, the doctors could take a dip in the private pool or sunbathe on the terrace before returning to the more serious work.
If you went back would you do anything differently? Stayed for longer!
How did you get there? Flew from London Gatwick to Nice via Easyjet. Short bus ride to accommodation.
What was the approximate total cost? Around £1,300 altogether. Most of this went on accommodation however, I earned about £450 by working in the evenings. The main costs involved were:
§ Travel insurance
§ Spending money
Is there any other information that you think may be useful?
§ Monthly bus passes are easy to obtain and can be used without restriction. They also cover you for bus trips to out of town sites such as Monaco and Cap d’Ail. At approximately £15, they are unbelievably good value!
§ Do not be put off by the location of Villa Saint Exupery. I could not recommend this place more highly. For reduced rate rooms, phone up the hostel and ask to chat with the owner. He is incredibly friendly and you will often be able to negotiate a reduction on the single room rate for a long period of stay. The website is: http://www.vsaint.com/index2.htm