University Hospital Targu Mures, Romania
Since the second year of my training as an anaesthesiologist I had been very interested in regional anaesthesia and I always looked to learn or do more of these procedures. Unfortunately, in Romania regional anaesthesia is not much developed in terms of using it on a larger scale, for both analgesia and anaesthesia. This is why by the fifth year of my residency I had only learned to do ultrasound-guided axillary brachial plexus block. Then is when I knew for sure that I needed more, because I had seen that there is much more. That was the decisive moment when I decided to apply to the Trainee Exchange Program from ESA, and chose the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands after a thorough evaluation of the training centres from the list offered by ESA.
I wanted a centre with experience in regional anaesthesia where I could learn how to do various ultrasound-guided procedures and also where I could do it myself not just observing. The possibility of actually performing the blocks by myself was the primary goal of this training.
After it was announced that I won the award, I was very anxious to go for the first visit and convince myself that it was like I thought it will be in terms of getting to learn the ultrasound-guided regional procedures. When I got there for the first time and I met the persons that will become my teachers, I was sure that it was the right place to come.
My training started in April 2016 and lasted until July. During these three months I was rotated in different operating rooms where not only regional anaesthesia was performed, but also general anaesthesia. This was a plus, especially in the first month when I needed to learn my way around and the protocols in the hospital.
During the training, I learned and performed different lower and upper limb blocks and also inserted perineural catheters.
My biggest fear was that the language would be a barrier between me and patients, but I was pleasantly surprised that almost everybody speaks English and I had no problem with communication.
Compared to my hometown hospital, in these three months, I could learn and perform regional procedures that I have only read about. These comprise supraclavicular brachial plexus block, femoral and popliteal nerve block, sciatic nerve block, and transversus abdominis block. Summarized, almost all that I wanted to learn.
The hospital is very well organised and has solid protocols, which are being followed and this makes a team that works as a whole for the benefit of the patient. I very much liked that they have lectures every Wednesday, and I got the chance to participate in some of those conducted in English.
Another highpoint for this location is the beautiful city where the hospital is located. I could not only improve my knowledge of regional anaesthesia but also in Van Gogh’s paintings, Rembrandt’s pictures, Amsterdam’s beautiful canals, and of course the beautiful fields of tulips. All these complemented very well the intensive learning process from the hospital.
I came home with the intention of performing the procedures I learned and to enlarge the utilization of regional anaesthesia for analgesia also, and try to make these procedures more than anaesthetic choices. By now I have succeeded in performing some of the blocks I learned and also to do some procedures for postoperative analgesia. It will take some time to implement all that I learned, especially because there are not that many who perform regional anaesthesia on a daily basis. Another goal that I set on training in Amsterdam is to teach my younger colleagues regional procedures, as I have been taught, and by this to increase the number of people who perform regional anaesthesia in their everyday practice.
Overall it was a good experience, from which I could learn much, more than I assumed and came for. By being there I could live and work as one of the locals and I learned some of their life rules that will make me pursue my goals no matter what.
For all these I want to say a big thank you to ESA, especially to the team that created this program and gave me this opportunity, without which I know I could never have had the chance to be in touch with and learn from some of the best regional practitioners in the Europe.
Thank you very much AMC, Thank you very much ESA!!