Reporter Diana Slim

Contact at destination Dr Gabinski – Chef de Service

Contact the Univeristé Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, information available on website

Year of visit 2005

Country France

Region Gironde

Institution Hôpital St-Andre, 1 rue Jean Burguet, Bordeaux 33000

Department A&E (Urgences)

Work / Study undertaken Mini-elective comparing french and english medical student experiences in A&E departments

Description of the service and department

It represented the A&E department in the centre of Bordeaux. It only received medical emergencies and referrals. There was no paediatrics or orthopaedics.

Description of the destination

Bordeaux is the capital of the region. It is a beautiful city with a lot of history. It is also surrounded by a great variety of countryside. It is 50 km from the Cote d’Argent and the Bassin d’Arcachon, famous for surfing and oysters respectively. There’s also the biggest dune in Europe, La Dune de Pyla. It is also close to many vineyards in that part of the country, notably St Emilion.

Were the local people friendly? Everyone was really friendly and impressed that an English person could speak French. The staff at the hospital were very welcoming and supportive.

Did you feel safe and if not why not? Yes but Bordeaux is a big city and you still need to take reasonable precautions.

What did you do in your spare time ? I bought myself a VTT bike and discovered the local region. The best and cheapest way to do it is camping and cycling. Beautiful sandy beaches, crystal clear Atlantic sea, bodyboarding, duneboarding, wine-tasting. The region of Les Landes has important spanish influences, so there’s a chance for a taster in Spanish culture like corridas or paseos.

Is there anything that you would particularly recommend others to do? If you’re there in the summer, Dax , a local town, has a 6 day festival celebrating all there is about the Bull. It’s called La Feria and you really get a chance to see French people party. Camping is provided free and the whole town closes down for the Festayres. You can see bull-runs, bull-fights, local dancing and bars spill out on the street with the party lasting well into the morning.

What time of the year were you there? What was the climate like?

July and August. July is quite rainy but it’s still very hot. In August, the temperature goes up and all they talk about in hospitals is whether there’ll be another dreaded “canicule”.

What was your accommodation like? Sublet in a two-bed appartment, 10 minutes away from hospital but a few steps away from the shopping precinct in Bordeaux.

Was it provided? No

If not who arranged it? Myself – on-line there’s a website that posts private ads from people offering or looking for accommodation.

How much did it cost? 250 euros per month (£200pcm).

Did you enjoy your visit? Yes, I would recommend it.

Did you find it useful medically? If so, in what way?

I had just finished my third year and still not felt very confident in my clinical skills. I’d known before that French medical students were more actively involved in patient care. In the A&E department, students or externes are the ones that clerk patients in. This increased my confidence greatly in taking a history, examining and most importantly presenting to the doctor in charge.

Has it improved your French? Yes! In a hospital situation, your spoken and medical French improves rapidly. You also begin to pick up on local accents.

How has it increased your knowledge of French culture? When you’re there for a longer period than a fortnight, you begin to integrate into the French routine and way of life. During the times when I travelled a little, I really got a taste for what french life was like once you got off the beaten track.

If you went back would you do anything differently? Improve my medical French before I got there

How did you get there? BA Gatwick – Bordeaux £120 RTN online

Is there any other information that you think may be useful? In the summer, all the regular lectures get cancelled and students go off on holiday. During the year, you may find it easier to make contacts but also get more of a taste of what a medical student’s life like.