At the end of my third year as an anaesthesia and intensive care trainee in Romania I decided to enrich my knowledge by doing a one-year internship in a hospital in Paris. This sounds like a lot of excitement first of all when you think of Paris, but the path to get there is not always easy. I was lucky that my trainee coordinator spoke for me with the professor of one hospital in Paris so this facilitated my access there. The other way is to start writing to a lot of hospitals asking them to accept you as a trainee, but this is the harder path because most often you do not receive any answer.
Once I knew I could go for a one-year internship in Paris I prepared all the paperwork (which is a lot) and left Romania. When I arrived in Paris I had no place to live because no one wanted to rent an apartment to a foreigner (this is a very complicated procedure in France), but luckily I got a room in a so-called boarding house in the hospital yard, which is a small house with only one bathroom and one shower for the eight persons that live there. But this was a good place to stay in Paris, taking into account that I did not have to pay anything.
First day in the hospital was a little confusing for me. I started by going in the cardiovascular operating room, where I realized that most of the substances have a commercial name, different from the ones I knew, that I never used some of the substances because you cannot find them in Romania. I saw the first TCI machine, which I knew only in principle how it works, but never pressed the buttons. I was scared, but the senior doctor I was with made that go away. He took the time to explain everything to me, sometimes repeating several times, because at the beginning it was a littler hard to follow everything that a native Frenchman spoke in French.
In Paris all the anaesthetists know to do cardiac echocardiography and they use echography for almost everything, this made me enthusiastic and willing to learn to better use this priceless tool. Now, after three months, I am afraid to put in a central line without using the echography. Also, here I got into the habit every day to do an echocardiography with a patient in the cardiac intensive care unit, and even though I am not a professional I am now able to see important abnormalities.
I was surprised that they allowed me to be active from the beginning, there was no observation time, there was action from the start. For example, in Romania I was allowed only once or twice to do the induction for the cardiac surgery patient, whereas here they allowed me to do this every time I am in the operating room. No one admonished me even when sometimes I made mistakes; they explained the right way to me. Also you can ask everyone for their help in any situation and they take their time to help you, sometimes I even feel it is a joy for them to help you.
Another major advantage here is that every week there are several courses held by trainees or seniors, every week we receive a lot of articles to read, and we have some days off for personal time. Also, we collaborate with the seniors for presenting articles and clinical cases.
I admire a lot that here the doctors take the time to speak with the patients and with their families, to explain everything, there is never a rush. Also they try to quickly integrate them in the daily life after a surgery.
I told myself from the start not to get frustrated because there might be differences between me and the French trainees and I do not. I am frustrated that in Romania we are not allowed to have as good training as here, that the Romanian medical system does not have the amount of money to purchase all that will be necessary for proper medical care.
I wrote about the good parts of being a foreigner trainee here, but sometimes it is hard to be a foreigner, not to speak your language, not to see your family more often. It is hard to live in a house in the hospital yard, where all you see is the hospital; it is of no importance that the town you live in is called Paris. Also here the weather is depressing with dark sky and always raining. During the weekend we sometimes go out, but there is never that joy that you are in Paris.
All in all, I see this experience as of great importance in my formation. I think that every trainee should come to France even for a few months to live in a system that functions properly. It is hard to adapt, but you do not have to, you must live things as they come and use the experience obtained in this medical system to become a better person and doctor.