My name is Dunja Mihajlovic; I work at the Emergency Centre at the Clinical Centre of Vojvodina in Novi Sad as a specialist in anaesthesiology, reanimation, and intensive care.
My story begins during the last year of my training in anaesthesiology, in the autumn of 2014, on a regular working day, with my colleague Dr Arsen Uvelin. I expected to pass the specialist exam in the near future and he had passed his the year before, so we were sharing our opinions about the education system of anaesthesia trainees in Serbia. He told me about an amazing experience that he had at Utrecht University Medical Centre, as one of the winners of the ESA trainee exchange program in 2013.
He inspired me to think about applying to the ESA trainee exchange programme as an opportunity to learn more, to get new insights into the field of anaesthesia and intensive care, and to improve my knowledge and clinical skills.
And that is how it happened … The next year I applied for this scholarship, full of hope that I just might be that lucky to win this great opportunity. My first choice of teaching centre was University Clinic in Münster (UKM). I think that UKM was a great choice because it is a university hospital that follows new trends in evidence-based intensive care and anaesthesia research. In this hospital there are more than 30,000 anaesthesia procedures per year that include all anaesthesia techniques. UKM has 48 beds in its perioperative ICU and more than 2000 patients per year; also, UKM is a trauma centre, which takes care of approximately 500 multiple trauma patients per year.
And I was just that lucky! I was so happy to be given the honour to visit this great clinic, and to have an opportunity to be included in its everyday practice as part of the staff, to learn from professors and doctors who work there, and to be inspired by their knowledge and their research results.
My exchange programme started in April 2016. After the warm welcome I started my training in the multidisciplinary intensive care unit and combined it with training in the trauma-oriented intensive care unit and with practice in the operating theatre.
I must say that each and every team member in the intensive care units as well as the operating theatre of UKM accepted me and treated me with high respect as their guest.
Since I have been particularly interested in intensive care from the start of my residency, I really enjoyed the detailed discussion and treatment planning for each patient during the morning rounds that start after the “gong” sounds in intensive care units.
I was amazed not only with the skills and knowledge of doctors who work in UKM intensive care, but also with the organization of their work, which also makes their performance high-quality.
I had a chance to enlarge my knowledge about ultrasound use, not only as part of everyday practice in intensive care units for guided arterial, central, and peripheral venous catheterization, and ultrasound guided pleural drainage, but also for ultrasound-guided peripheral nerve blocks for analgesia and anaesthesia in the operating theatre. I also had an opportunity to learn more about procedures performed daily in intensive care units such as percutaneous dilatational tracheotomy and bronchoscopy, and also about hemodynamic monitoring, infection control, antimicrobial treatment protocols, and treatment of heart and respiratory failure with LVAD and ECMO.
I feel very privileged having the opportunity to share my opinions and to discuss treatment protocols in intensive care units and in operating theatres with highly educated people.
I want to thank my supervisor, Prof Bjorn Ellger, and Prof Hugo Van Aken, the head of the Department of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine, and Pain Therapy in University Hospital Münster, for giving me this priceless opportunity to improve my practical skills and enlarge my knowledge in the fields of anaesthesia and intensive care in their hospital.
I also want to thank Dr Christian Ertmer and Dr Hendrik Freise and the entire team who work in “19BO” ICU and “Intensive-Therapie-Station II” for having me, working with me, and making me feel at home.
Special thanks go to Dr Manuel Wenk for sharing his knowledge about regional anaesthesia and ultrasound-guided peripheral nerve blocks with me and for his support, kindness, and patience for my endless list of questions.
Special thanks also go to my colleague, who became my very dear friend – Dr. Zaklina Petrovic, who was in Münster as one of the ESA trainee exchange programme winners of 2013 and who afterwards moved here and now works in UKM. She gave me priceless advice and made my experience of Münster and the trainee exchange programme a life-time memory.
Finally, I would like to thank the ESA Trainee Exchange Programme Committee for giving me this opportunity and helping to make me a better anaesthesiologist.