A very warm and welcoming atmosphere in a frozen city
July 20, 2022 | Anna Caterina Milanetto
Anna Caterina Milanetto is a junior researcher in general surgery at the Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology of the University of Padua (Italy). As a UEG Clinical Visiting Fellow, she visited the Umeå University Hospital in Sweden in March 20222 for 3 weeks and reports from her experience.
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Umeå University Hospital is located in a modern University city along a nice (and at that time, iced) river in the deep north of Sweden. The Surgical Department provided me an accommodation close to the hospital, and when I arrived to the airport I found my tutor waiting for me to take me to my new home. I am a surgeon dedicated to pancreatology and, once arrived in Umeå, I asked my Swedish tutor, Dr Roberto Valente (gastroenterologist), to attend both the Surgical Endoscopy and the Pancreatic Surgery activities. He introduced me to Dr Asif Halimi (surgeon), and my Swedish adventure started.
I had the opportunity to watch advanced endoscopic procedures (i.e. ERCP with huge duodenal polyp resections) with Dr Valente as a brilliant endoscopist. I also had the chance to work side by side as assistant in the operating room with the talented surgeon Dr Halimi, and we performed advanced pancreatic surgery (i.e. Whipple’s and total pancreatectomies with venous resections) and also minimally invasive surgery (i.e. laparoscopic distal pancreatectomies). Every day before each procedure we used to discuss the indication and operative plan together, and watched the imaging studies and the clinical data. Then, during the procedure the tutor always explained the technique step by step, with all the tips and tricks. In this way, I really felt part of the team and I could improve my technical and decisional skills!
During the week, I usually attended the multidisciplinary team (gastroenterologist, radiologist, pathologist, surgeon, oncologist) meetings of pancreatic cancer, of neuroendocrine neoplasms, and of benign pancreatic disease. I also had free time (and an available computer on my personal desk) to read scientific papers and to get more deeply into the discussed topics. They all were interested to exchange knowledge and experience with me, and they invited me to give a lecture to all the colleagues of the Endoscopic/Surgical Unit on my main area of interest: the neuroendocrine tumours of the periampullary region.
Do you think all these things are not enough to choose Umeå for your UEG Clinical Visiting Fellowship? I will tell you something more! In this frozen northern city, I found a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. My mentors were always available and very kind with me, and all the colleagues of the unit were very friendly. We also spent some time together and have fun outside the hospital! Since I cannot speak Swedish (but now I’m able to understand something), they were speaking English almost all the time, even during the multidisciplinary meetings. I would recommend to the future fellows to come to Umeå during spring, especially if they are not familiar with the northern darkness. I come from Italy, and I went there in March (as suggested by the tutor), when the weather was often sunny and simply perfect. It has been an astonishing experience, a great UEG opportunity beyond all my expectations! Thanks to my mentors, who gave me motivation, and made me feel embraced, valued and supported, allowing me to blossom into my best professional and personal self. I came back to Italy with new ideas in my mind and a new strength in my hands.