An Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Studies allows students to complete a semester or two abroad during their studies. For medical students, this means during the first five years of study. While the Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Traineeship, allows students or recent graduates to obtain practical training in their chosen fields. Both programs are funded by the European Union as part of their contribution to support and promote education, training, youth, and sports in Europe.
Most medical students opt not to do an Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Studies because not all courses can be completed, and it usually ends up requiring an additional year of study. For final year medical students, an Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Traineeships is more suitable. It provides medical students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in renowned hospitals across Europe while completing their sixth-year rotations.
I chose an Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Traineeship was right for me. When completing my application, I ended up selecting KU Leuven as my first choice because it is the highest-ranked university in Belgium and is home to the well-renowned hospital, University Hospitals Leuven (UZ Leuven). Like the University of Pécs, it is an old university and was founded in 1425. Being an island girl, I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity at such a prestigious institution.
In March 2021, I found out I had been selected, and in September 2021, I travelled to Belgium to begin my Erasmus+ at KU Leuven. I was there for roughly 4 months and returned to Hungary last month. I completed my Obstetrics & Gynaecology rotation, Surgery & Traumatology rotation, and my Internal Medicine (Gastroenterology/Nephrology) rotation. If I had to describe my experience in one word, it would be “phenomenal.”
I had read beforehand that UZ Leuven had 10,000 employees and nearly 2000 beds. But it wasn’t until I arrived that I realized just how enormous the hospital was. Just about every day I got lost or discovered a new way to get where I was going.
Scrubbed in at the operating room.
During my time in the Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Surgery & Traumatology departments, I was able to scrub in and assist with numerous procedures in the operating room, and practice suturing. I inserted and removed urinary catheters and speculums, and I became much more confident using a Pozzi tenaculum. I spent some days at the Ultrasound clinic, where I learnt how to visualize ovarian cysts, fetuses, IUDs, polyps, endometriomas, myomas etc. I witnessed my first vaginal delivery and assisted during a C-section. In my Surgery rotation, I even assisted with a lung transplant. Being a part of the team that helped give a patient a second chance at life is as incredible as it gets!
On both the Nephrology and Gastroenterology wards, I participated in clinical ward rounds, performed physical examinations and history taking, as well as wrote patient notes and took samples for arterial blood gas analysis. In Hepatology, I learnt how to do an ascites puncture and performed them on my own with the supervision of the doctor.
Even though Dutch is the spoken language in Leuven, all the doctors and hospital staff spoke English and many of the patients too. In every department, the residents and professors always took the time to answer my questions and explain anything that wasn’t clear. They were always friendly and welcoming.
I am very lucky that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to participate in this program and complete my rotations abroad. I am so grateful to the University of Pécs and KU Leuven for providing such an opportunity. I encourage every student that has the chance to study abroad to take advantage of it.
Me sitting in front of the Leuven sign.
Written by Amber Martinez
International Student Ambassador from Cayman Islands
University of Pécs, Medical School
Study in Pécs, Hungary - Cayman Islands