Hello! I am Arsya Auliya, a medical student at Universitas Airlangga. I got a great opportunity to be a CIMSA-IFMSA Medical Exchange’s outgoing in Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussels, Belgium. On February 2023, I got an acceptance letter that invited me to participate in a medical exchange program in Brussels, Belgium. This program aimed to foster cross-cultural understanding and knowledge sharing among medical professionals from around the world. I had always dreamed of expanding my medical knowledge beyond the familiar walls of the hospital in my hometown.
Arriving in Brussels, I was immediately mesmerized by this city’s stunning architecture, amazing history, and vibrant atmosphere. Brussels is the capital city of Belgium. It lies in the north-central part of Belgium, that has two different region which are Flemish Brussel and Wallonian Brussel. This country is a bilingual-speaking country in French and Dutch. English is spoken as well as those languages. It has many variative cuisine, beautiful historical and architectural landmarks, and attractive traditions. One of Brussels’ famous landmark is The Royal Palace of Brussels. The King’s administrative residence and primary workplace is the Royal Palace of Brussels, where he meets daily with his staff. The King welcomes leaders of political organizations, foreign guests (heads of state, ambassadors), and other guests at his office at the Royal Palace of Brussels.
The hospital located in Jette municipality. When I was arrived, a local student welcomed me and guided me to my dorm. Luckily, it’s pretty and clean. I attended Upon Arrival Training in one of the incoming’s dorm and they explained all of the things that we have to learn about this city, hospital administration, public transportation, also how to laundry and many food recommendation. The exchange program had participants from various countries, which are Malta, Lithuania and Turkey. Each of them bringing their own medical expertise and stories. I was paired with Dr. Janssens, a passionate Belgian abdominal surgeon known for his advance techniques in minimally invasive procedures. I accepted in General Surgery department and attended various surgery cases in a month.
I observed about 3-4 surgeries each day. There were many interesting cases that rarely found in Indonesia, such as nissen fundoplication procedure in GERD patients and laparoscopic hernia repair in patients with complications. The Nissen fundoplication wrap normally appears as a large fundal mass with a smooth contour and surface. A partial fundoplication is created with the fundus partially enveloping the distal esophagus, enabling a reduction in postoperative dysphagia and gas-related side effect. That was my very first time assisting in real surgery to the patient, so they teached me how to do aseptic techniques such as hand hygine, how to use sterile gowns, and how to works in the operating room during a surgical procedure. I assisted in 7 surgeries, which are nissen fundoplication, hysterectomy, and five circumcision patients. I also performed urinary catheterization in pre-operative patient. I also observed robotic surgery for a few abdominal cases. It was very interesting because I haven’t seen it in my pre-clinical term. Every week, I attended 6-8 hours per day. Every doctors and nurses welcomed me kindly and taught me steps in surgeries. I learned a lot from them.
On weekends, I explored Belgium from one city to another one. Belgium is a small country, so it’s possible to go to each city for one day trip. I went to Antwerp, Bruges, and Leuven. My favorite one was Bruges, it’s a pretty city with many tourist attractions. I also went to the other country in Western Europe such as Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland with other exchange incomings from Universitas Airlangga.
In the end, my medical exchange in Brussels not only broadened my professional capacity as a medical student but also highlighted my power of unity in diversity. Through shared knowledge and experiences, I had learned that regardless of borders, languages, or backgrounds, healthcare professionals around the world were united by their commitment to healing and compassion.