RSU Medical Students Welcome the Opportunity To Undergo Placements at International Clinics
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties it has caused around the world, Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) is successfully overcoming various difficulties and continuing its rapid development. This is attested by the improvement of the content and structure of the Medicine and Dentistry study programmes at RSU. As a result of the work that has been done and the changes that have been implemented, both study programmes are equal to study programmes at leading European universities. The duration of the final year placement has also been significantly increased.
A good example of this is the ten-week clinical placement for 6th-year students, which is taking place for the first time this year, that can certainly be said to be a success. Placements are implemented on the basis of a rotation principle consisting of a four-week placement in surgical diseases, a four-week placement in internal diseases and a two-week placement in a speciality chosen by the student.
The official duration of the placement is from 31 August to 6 November, but in order to provide students with the opportunity to find placement institutions in their home country, it was possible to start the placement earlier, during the summer holidays.
In total, there are 129 international students undergoing placements this autumn, 53 of them in Germany. Medical student Isabelle Kristina Meyer-Teschendorf underwent her placement in two German clinics as part of the new rotation principle. She emphasised that in giving students the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge in various fields of medicine, this new approach meets modern requirements of prospective doctors.
Isabelle Kristina Meyer-Teschendorf with a colleague at St. Bernhard Hospital. Photo from personal archive.
At which German clinics did you undergo your placement?
My ten-week placement took place at two German clinics. My first placement in internal diseases and my chosen speciality took place at the St. Bernhard Hospital in Kamp-Lintfort, a town in North Rhine-Westphalia. This hospital is located 30km from the border of the Netherlands and is a partner clinic with RSU. Next, I underwent the four-week placement in surgical diseases at the municipal hospital in Pirmasens, a town in south western Germany near the French border, which is one of the leading surgical centres in the region.
St. Bernhard Hospital in Germany. Photo from www.st-bernhard-hospital.de
What were the biggest benefits for you as a prospective doctor?
During my internal diseases’ placement at the St. Bernhard Hospital, I had the opportunity to gain skills in gastroenterology, cardiology and nephrology. For my elective course I joined the clinic’s Orthopaedics Department, which is one of the best in the Rhine-Ruhr region. The department uses multimodal pain therapy, and their spine treatment methods are particularly modern and effective. I had a unique opportunity to see it all, to participate in the process and to learn.
The Department of Cardiology at the St. Bernhard Hospital is well known for investigating the causes of and preventing chest pain, which is often a symptom of a heart attack. The treatment team in this department also focuses on the diagnostics and treatment of cardiac arrhythmia. One of the treatment methods is pacemaker implants. The working day was very diverse and eventful. I had the opportunity both to learn a lot and to understand how much more I need to learn. Everything I saw and did there will be important in my work as a doctor.
Isabelle Kristina Meyer-Teschendorf (second from the left) at Sthe t. Bernhard Hospital. Photo from: www.st-bernhard-hospital.de.
What can you tell us about the second stage of your placement and learning about surgery?
I moved from a town in Germany near the border of the Netherlands to a city in the south of the country near the French border, about 350km away. The placement took place at the municipal hospital in Pirmasens – Städtisches Krankenhaus Pirmasens. The town is surrounded by a beautiful forest and nature park.
At this hospital, I joined the Department of General Surgery and the Department of Traumatology. The clinic cooperates with the German Thyroid Centre, which was established in Cologne in 2006. I discovered during my placement that I am particularly interested in thyroid treatment and surgery. The municipal hospital in Pirmasens is known for its well-developed hernia treatment centre and has a modern endoprosthetics centre.
What was a day in your placement like?
My day started with a daily medical meeting, during which we discussed operations and changes in patients’ health, determined further treatment methods, reviewed test results, planned manipulations and discussed other treatment-related issues. I participated in morning rounds, patient interviews and examinations. I often assisted experienced physicians in obtaining blood samples for tests.
During the placement in the Department of Surgery, I participated in several surgeries, such as gallbladder removal, and hernia and thyroid surgeries.
Photo from personal archive.
In the Department of Cardiology, I worked in the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, and I learned the basics of endoscopy and abdominal ultrasonography in the Department of Gastroenterology. I had a good opportunity to practice assessing and analysing patients’ electrocardiograms.
At the Department of Emergency Medicine and Orthopaedics of the St. Bernhard Hospital, I learned how to take patients’ medical history. To do this, a doctor interviews the patient and sometimes also their relatives, to obtain basic information about the patient’s health and illnesses over a long period of time. This is necessary to be able to give a diagnosis and work out a corresponding treatment plan accurately. From the traumatologists, I learned how to recognise different fractures using X-rays.
What do you remember most from your studies at RSU?
I value my studies at RSU highly, including the knowledge I obtained from the highly qualified teaching staff. I would strongly recommend other young people who have chosen the medical profession to study at RSU.
The study programmes on offer and the principle of combining different study cycles meets modern requirements and is universally applicable. I believe that studying in small groups and the combination of practical and theoretical studies are very effective. In addition, RSU offers high-quality studies in English.