Elective Report by Adam Oumerzaine
Reporter: Adam Oumeziane (Final Year Medical Student – Anglia Ruskin University)
Contact at Destination: Docteur Messaoudi (Gynécologue obstétricienne)
Year of Visit: 2023
Region: Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt, Versailles (Île-de-France)
Institution: Hôpital privé de Parly 2 Le Chesnay
Department: Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Work/ Study undertaken: I took on an observational role in the department during my elective. It was an excellent choice of specialty as my timetable was organised to allow me for a range of experiences. This spanned from observing clinics and examinations in the morning, to witnessing surgical procedures in the operating theatres and even attending births. Although the range of experiences was a fantastic learning opportunity, I found it to be quite overwhelming at the beginning as it meant I had to expand on my medical French vocabulary very quickly.
I had not long finished my obstetrics and gynaecology placement in Colchester as part of medical school, therefore it was interesting to contrast the approach to Women’s health between the two health systems. A particular observation was the increased involvement of the doctor in managing births in France. In the UK, it appeared to be primarily midwife driven for normal births, but at my hospital placement in France, the doctor played a key role in all births, even vaginal births. This meant that I had increased exposure to this aspect of obstetrics, which I was not able to see as often in the UK.
That being said, I was able to work closely with a range of team members involved in gynaecology and obstetrics. The team were all very kind and enjoyed having an opportunity to practice their English with someone!
A particularly fond memory, and stark contrast to working in the NHS, was the delicious canteen food that I enjoyed with my colleagues each day at lunch. The staff at the hospital found my excitement and shock over steak frites and mussels for lunch on my first day for lunch rather entertaining.
Description of Destination: I stayed in a village nearby Versailles for my elective placement. It was fantastic driving/walking/cycling past the Chateau de Versailles on the way to work each morning. Versailles is a modern snapshot of French history that spans beyond the Palace. The town itself is filled with culture and incredible outdoor areas. It was also easy to access Paris through the RER, or metro, in around thirty minutes.
Were locals friendly? Yes, I found the locals very friendly and supportive. They were very interested in finding out more about myself and would take the time to help me develop my French speaking skills.
Was it safe? I felt safe during my stay in Versailles and whilst visiting Paris. As Versailles is a very popular tourist destination, it’s essential to stay vigilant and take standard safety precautions. Always be mindful of your belongings, be aware of your surroundings.
What did you do in your spare time? I was very fortunate to have a lot of family across France who were able to help me organise activities. I tried to spend each weekend I had off from work differently. Staying in Versailles allowed for me to have a fantastic afternoon cycling around the Grand Canal (if you do not have your bike, you can rent one there!), followed by a visit to the Palace itself in order to explore The Hall of Mirrors and royal apartments. Another weekend, I visited Paris and explored the city via a boat on the Seine. For one of my final weekends, I took the TGV to Marseille in order to catch up with family I had not seen in a long time. I was able to explore the south coast of France and enjoy some time with family.
Time of year and climate? I visited from April til June, this was a perfect time as it was a nice temperature, but not too warm. It was also not bad as Paris and Versailles were not too busy with tourists.
Accommodation? I was fortunate enough to stay with family members during this elective. This was a great help and allowed me to deepen my French language skills beyond medical French. It also allowed me to sample authentic French cuisine and the lifestyle.
How did I get there? Eurostar London St Pancras to Paris, I then took the RER to Versailles.
Medically useful? I had limited hands on experience, but the benefits of simply observing were certainly not to be dismissed. I spent a significant amount of time observing consultations and examinations in the clinic, where we had the opportunity to witness the diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of patient care. This was particularly useful as my supervisor was extremely experienced and encouraged me to ask questions and gave me advice on performing examinations, e.g. speculum examinations, that I struggled with previously. I also was able to develop a range of surgical skills and knowledge from my experiences in the operating theatre, such as a deeper understanding of anatomy, but also more confidence in scrubbing into surgery.
French Improved? My colleagues and family noted a massive difference in my French by the end of my placement. I had not studied French formally since high school, therefore I was a little rusty and apprehensive going into this placement. I took part in the Medical French Course held by the Franco-Anglo Medical Society in Lille prior to attending my elective. This provided me a lot more confidence and the equipped me with a good foundation of medical French knowledge before attending the elective. It was also incredibly useful for allowing me to understand the different structures involved in French healthcare, as this varies to the UK greatly.
Overall Cost? Travel=£200, Accommodation = £200 Food and leisure = £400