Quality treatment for a young medical student

10.11.2009

With an excellent academic background and an interest in gaining experience abroad, Italian medical student Laura Zanisi wasted no time in benefitting of the expertise of her local EURES Adviser. The result was a work placement that allowed her to discover a healthcare system completely different to that of her native Italy. In order to expand her knowledge of general medicine and complement her studies, 23-year old Italian medical student Laura Zanisi decided to search for an opportunity abroad in a healthcare system different to what she was used to. Laura had a very strong academic background which led to her being awarded a grant to take a medical work placement elsewhere in Europe in the summer of 2009. The grant, from her University of Pavia, covered living costs and flights to a country of her choosing.

Laura’s professor and ERASMUS (the European student exchange programme) coordinator for the Faculty of Medicine of the university, Dr Giovanni Ricevuti, wisely advised her to contact local EURES Adviser Aurora Scalora. Laura gathered all relevant documents, such as university transcripts and letters of reference, and sent them on to Mrs Scalora. When the two met face-to-face, Laura was fully informed of any existing opportunities: “Aurora’s help was very important because the information she gave me increased my knowledge of European Union mobility, and about living and working conditions abroad.”

Mrs Scalora works in collaboration with the Productivity, Labour, Training and Development Institution of the Province of Pavia (http://www.formalavoro.pv.it/) and keeps in close contact with the university, particularly the medical faculty. In her opinion, Mrs Scalora believes that cooperation with the prestigious university often results in ‘very interesting initiatives’; for example, in the past she has participated in recruitment drives for young Italian doctors to the United Kingdom and Denmark. “I enjoy creating new ways for young people across Europe to become mobile, whether through work or study,” she says.

In Laura’s case, Mrs Scalora used her vast experience to arrange for Laura to undertake a two-week work placement in the River Surgery of Buckhurst Hill in the United Kingdom, a clinic of approximately 20 staff members. Mrs Scalora contacted her acquaintance, Dr Abayomi McEwen, Associate Postgraduate Professor at Cambridge University, who helped her arrange the internship and even hosted Laura in her home for as long as her placement lasted. The whole process was very easy and Laura said that even in the United Kingdom, she felt completely at home: “I will never forget the day when Dr McEwen and her family took me to see Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream after having a picnic in a local park. I always felt very welcome, and I met some very kind and friendly people.”

Dr McEwen prepared a comprehensive timetable so that Laura could experience as many aspects as possible of the life of a UK doctor. This included introductions to family counselling, immunisation, treatments for diabetics and asthmatics, and examinations in the fields of cardiology, oncology and paediatrics. In addition to this, Laura assisted nurses in their daily tasks, such as taking the blood pressure of patients, and spent a day in the pharmacy, a day in a nursing home, observed how patients with rare diseases were treated, and even attended a lecture at the University of Cambridge with other medical students.

Laura is already in the 5th of her 6 years of study and therefore has had previous practical experience in Italy. She profited hugely from her experience in the United Kingdom, as she was able to observe firsthand the differences in the healthcare systems of the two countries. Even though two weeks sounds like a short stay, Laura had enough time to not only gain valuable experience, but also improve her English. Overall, Laura thoroughly enjoyed her experience. Perhaps it was due to the ease with which she was welcomed at the River Surgery; perhaps it was thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of EURES Adviser Aurora Scalora.

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