ESA TEP Experience – Glenn Paul Abela – Malta Ospedale Policlinico San Martino – Genova, Italy
As part of my training abroad I applied to participate in the ESA Trainee Exchange Programme, a programme which organizes attachments in European centres of excellence for a period of up to three months. Moreover, this is fully-funded by the European Society of Anaesthesiology, and I was sure not having to deal with the taxman in a new country would make the transition much easier.
I was selected to attend at the Ospedale Policlinico San Martino in Genova, Italy, and my host was Professor Paolo Pelosi.
I attended a familiarization visit before the stay itself. Prof. Pelosi welcomed me and showed me around both the university department and the intensive care unit and I was immediately impressed with the layout, the organization and the scientific activity that goes on.
I arrived in Genova at the end of August and started attending the intensive care unit straightaway. I spent my first month in the ICU. The day would start off with the night and day teams discussing all patients, going over the history, their management, progress and further treatment required. Then each doctor would be assigned a few patients to examine, present the case to a senior intensivist and together formulate a plan.
I attended the ORL and head and neck operating theatre for the subsequent two months. I chose this subspecialty of anaesthetics because the practice is very varied, both in terms of patient characteristics and surgeries done, and allows the anaesthetist to become proficient in the management of the difficult airway. During this time, I had the opportunity to participate in the care of patients undergoing complex and extensive surgeries, laser surgery, and surgery requiring the use of jet ventilation. In fact, I had the opportunity to discuss, learn and use this ventilation technique and other advanced airway equipment which I was not as familiar with. Additionally, I gained a better insight into total intravenous anaesthesia,
which is fast becoming a technique of choice in many settings, and I learnt about drug agents not yet available at home, especially different sedatives, analgesics and medications to modulate blood pressure. I also had the opportunity to observe highly sophisticated surgical equipment, including navigation systems and robotic-assisted devices.
During my time at the San Martino I also dedicated some time to research, in which I participated in a project involving several teams working in different university hospitals. It gave me an insight of how modern medical research works, especially the extensive professional networks involved and how increasingly important advanced computer software has become in analyzing data and coming up with meaningful results. I also attended multidisciplinary meetings at the ICU, journal clubs organized for trainees and industry exhibitions at the hospital.
I must add Genova is a very nice place to stay: close to the sea with a quaint historic centre, many opulent palaces, multiple attractions and… food to die for.