I spent my elective at the emergency department of the Keski-Suomen Sairaanhoitopiiri, a tertiary teaching hospital found in the Finnish city of Jyvaskyla.
I chose this placement due to my interest in critical care medicine and because it offered me an opportunity to practice my Finnish language skills in a medical context.
I had initially considered completing my elective in a third world country, but eventually settled on Finland as I felt that spending more time in a tertiary-level hospital within a developed healthcare system would provide better educational opportunities.
The most notable difference I observed between emergency departments in Australia and those in Finland was the structural organisation.
In contrast to Australia where the department revolves around emergency medicine consultants, Finnish EDs are staffed by various specialists including internal medicine doctors, general physicians and even surgeons, all of whom are based within the department.
Patients are triaged as either surgical, medical, or general upon arrival and then allocated to the corresponding doctor, with the few emergency specialists seeing only the sickest patients and those in need of procedures not performed by the other specialities.
This elective provided me with the opportunity to learn many new skills ranging from FAST-scans, to cannulating with ultrasound guidance.
The hospital and all the staff were friendly and accommodating, going out of their way to teach me. I was given a good amount of autonomy to see patients on my own, before formulating a management plan to check with one of the doctors.
I had the opportunity to work with doctors from the various specialities, allowing me to see a wide range of clinical conditions and their acute presentations. I
was also able to see a number of patients who were acutely unwell and required care in the resuscitation room. This allowed me to learn about fluid resuscitation, stroke thrombolysis, and the acute management of undifferentiated chest pain.
Overall, I had a great time in Finland and feel as though I learned many new skills during my time there.
The hospital provided great teaching for students (albeit in Finnish) and were supportive at every stage.
This elective also provided me with an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, and allowed me time to travel Europe before returning to university.
My only hesitation in recommending this elective to other students is the requirement for a high level of fluency in Finnish, as many of the doctors and patients did not speak enough English.