Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) (Paris)

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Impressions of Université Pierre et Marie Curie

  • Helen Baxter – medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective at Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), Paris VI in 2011–12

Helen Baxter – medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective at Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), Paris VI in 2011–12

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"My experience opened my eyes to a different system of healthcare which is largely public healthcare in the department of infectious and tropical diseases at the Hopital Pitie-Salpetriere in Paris.

The department (infectious and tropical diseases) had a rapid turnover of really interesting patients with a wide variety of diseases. I feel that I consolidated some of my basic clinical skills (needing to perform full respiratory, cardio, abdo and neuro exams) in identifying possible causes, and also learnt a lot about antibiotics, and antivirals which was challenging (given it was all in French) but fun nevertheless!

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I learnt that basic medical skills are transferable and useful in many different contexts regardless of the system in which you are based which motivated me to practice and hone some of those developing skills.

I also learnt to read people a bit better (body language, subtle signs etc) given the language barrier at times which was quite an amazing experience. I also learnt to be a team player in a new system, whilst being useful but not overstepping the boundaries in which I was comfortable.

I think I learnt that there are many ways to do our job as a trainee doctor and to do it best it should be patient centred and our communication should aim to be a responsive reflection of the patient's level of understanding (both of the words and concepts being conveyed) and on their terms (with family or support around them), rather than simply a didactic one-way message about their treatment plan between doctor and patient on our terms."