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Medical students interning in Cyprus: “An amazing opportunity”

Annina Nyström, Hjalmar Fransson, and Nicole Berner.

Annina Nyström, Hjalmar Fransson, and Nicole Berner are medical students at Örebro University and this spring interning in Cyprus.

More caesarean section deliveries – and unvaccinated children. Annina Nyström, Nicole Berner, and Hjalmar Fransson, medical students from Örebro University, are doing their internship in Cyprus, thanks to the university alliance NEOLAiA.
“It’s a privilege to discover different parts of the world and see various healthcare systems, different health economic conditions and their working solutions,” says Nicole Berner.

During the spring, the three Örebro medical students will complete their work placement (VFU) via the University of Nicosia at Limassol General Hospital and a private clinic in Cyprus. They are interning in gynaecology and paediatrics.

“I’ve been interning in outpatient care, on the ward, and in surgery. For example, activities have varied from pregnant women receiving their check-ups to receiving caesarean sections in surgery – as most women here give birth via caesarean section. I’ve also practised taking cervical smears,” says Nicole Berner.

They tell of being warmly received, having dedicated supervisors, and working in a very international environment. In Cyprus, many doctors have studied outside the country, and a lot of the medical students there come from other countries.

Different – and educational

Much is different in Cyprus. Many children lack vaccination coverage, hygiene routines are not as strict, and at home in Sweden, the students feel they are given more responsibility and perform more independent tasks already during their training.

“As medical students, we’ve done less than we would usually have done in Sweden. For example, there are no student clinics or shifts in the emergency room. It’s been more a matter of chance if we’ve examined patients ourselves or practised clinical procedures. Still, I feel we’ve seen and learned a lot – after all, women and children get sick here, too,” says Nicole Berner.

Hjalmar Fransson agrees and emphasises the similarities, even though routines and resources may differ.

“The amazing thing about being a doctor is that regardless of where you are, patients are ‘the same’. People have the same symptoms for the same illnesses. Despite language barriers, the language of doctors is the same, the thought processes regarding patients are the same, and the medical terms used are the same. It’s fascinating to see and appreciate that being a doctor is indeed an international profession,” he says.

“Experiences making me a better doctor”

All three highly recommend that other medical students seize the opportunity to do a work placement (VFU) abroad to see and experience how healthcare works in other countries and to learn about the similarities and differences.

“It’s really worth trying this, especially if you want to work abroad later in your career. I think it’s essential in a profession like ours, where you often collaborate across national borders,” says Annina Nyström.

Hjalmar Fransson believes that since the medical programme is lengthy, taking advantage of opportunities to get involved in student associations or go on international exchanges is wise.

“It’s a useful way to broaden your knowledge, make contacts with other future doctors from around the world, and gain great new experiences that I believe will help you become a better doctor,” he says.

Nicole Berner believes that the stay in Cyprus has been both professionally and personally enriching. She has expanded her network, gained inspiration, and experienced new cultures.

“I’m getting the chance to challenge myself in new situations and create new contacts and memories for life. Personally, this has been the first step in my efforts to broaden my horizons in the future. It’s incredibly enriching, challenging, full of experiences – and an amazing chance and opportunity,” says Nicole Berner.

NEOLAiA is a collaboration between nine young universities in Europe with robust rankings and strong regional ties. Together, they form a European university. Here, you can learn more about all the universities involved.

During spring 2024, three Örebro students, during their ninth semester of the medical programme, are completing their work placement (VFU) in Cyprus within the framework of the NEOLAiA collaboration. Five students from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus are at the same time interning at the paediatric and women’s clinics at Örebro University Hospital (USÖ).

The students have been awarded Erasmus+ scholarships for internships. Read more about it here.

Read more about the School of Medical Sciences at Örebro University.

Text: Anna Lorentzon
Photo: Private
Translation: Jerry Gray