I had a great honour to participate in the European School of Internal Medicine in Ede, Netherlands. Altogether we were 42 young internists from different countries who came to the Akoesticum in Ede in order to advance our clinical skills in internal medicine. At first, it seemed that it would be an enjoyable and interesting course, I was certain I would gain a lot of new knowledge and build strong relationships with new people. But never had I expected how excellent the course would actually be and that all the people I would meet, would have such a strong impact on me.
First of all, we stayed at a training centre for music, dance and theatre. It is located in a idyllic heritage site. This was the location where we all first met.
The learning experience was impeccable. I received a programme previous to the course but the topics appeared quite mysterious and it was difficult to guess what it would be about. Well I must say that the quality of the lectures over-exceeded my expectations. All the lectures contained information that felt exquisitely picked out specially for us. I am certain that never will I experience a similar programme. Many lectures contained team work and made us become acquainted with one another and discuss the differences in each of our countries. I found one lecture especially interesting, where we had clinical cases and had to pick the following scenario. But eventually the final ending was the same in all of them. This was something very different from what we have always been taught as we are always told that there is one right answer. It definitely surprised me and changed my perspective. Nevertheless, there were many lectures that were exceptionally interesting – “Water and salt”, “Grand rounds”, “Clinical Path Conference”, “Patient safety”, “Gender” etc. Also, the lecture on obesity as a disease – it was enlightening and made me realise how much of what we have been taught so far, might change soon. We also had many practical lessons. What I found extremely helpful and valuable were the sonography courses, as nowadays it is a must for an internist to be able to interpret sonography. In addition, the fact that we were even taught how to play the saxophone says a lot about the spirit of this course. Afterwards we were even educated on how to control our verbal and non-verbal skills. And when it seems that the programme could not possibly get any better, we were taught how to present science effectively and we had to perform ourselves while being judged by an actor. I could go on and on about how amazing this EFIM week was.
And, last but not least, I want to emphasize how remarkable the people were that I met during the course. Starting with the supervisors who are all well-known and experienced professors and specialists in their countries. They were always looking after us – watching if we are doing well, if we are on time for the lectures, if we are enjoying ourselves etc. It really did make us feel very special and welcome in Ede. It was visible that they wanted us to learn as much as possible but also have a good time. Also, the social programme was astonishing with a tour, boat ride and a lovely dinner in the end. Yet I also enjoyed the bike tour and visiting the Kroller-Muller Museum as it has the second largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and coincidentally he is one of my dearest painters.
And I must mention all the young internists I got to know. They were from so many different countries such as Morocco, Venezuela, India and of course many European countries. We interacted so intensely and found out so much about each of our countries and how different residency and medicine in general is in each one of them. It certainly broadens one’s horizon. But not only was it educating; during this week we became very close friends – we sang, we danced, we laughed, we learnt, and then we sang and danced again! We now how our own songs that we will always remember as ours. We still keep in touch and always remember each other. It is actually hard to believe how close you can become with people you did not even know a week before.
I am extremely grateful to EFIM and FDIME for this opportunity of a life-time. It definitely has changed my view and perspective. It feels like I have learnt so many new things in only a week. And I also met so many wonderful people that I will always remember. I will cherish these memories and hopefully many other young internists get to experience the spirit of ESIM!
When my chief of department told me about the EFIM bursar in early April 2019, it was the first time I ever heard about the FDIME. I was very interested and happy to know about the bursary provided to a non European resident in order for him to attend a summer school amongst fellow european residents. Learning I was selected was for me a great honor and I could not wait for the course to begin. This excitement was partly due to the good organization already showing through the emails I started receiving once I was selected. Indeed, having all the information and details about the location, the transportation and the whole program in advance, was very helpful.
Once in Ede, finding the location was easy thanks to the directions of Mr. Sickmann. And the very first evening was already promising, after a reception we were welcomed by the organisators who made us feel comfortable. Helping us to connect from the first moments.
I was expecting to learn a lot of new things during that week, and I knew from the first minutes that I would not be disappointed. Indeed, since the first lecture about the European curriculum of internal medicine, I was very surprised to hear about all the differences between the European systems themselves and between them and our system. It was the first time I hear about a mandatory common trunk in internal medicine before specializing in any medical field. Things are very different in Morocco since we spend five years in the internal medicine department without any rotations. When I returned home, I was very curious to understand why our system was so different but I had the good surprise of learning that some changes are on their way in the Moroccan system. I think that this Lecture was the best choice to start the course, since it put everything in a different perspective.
The saxophone session was a great opportunity for us to release all the stress and tensions that may have accumulated with the trip and the anticipation of the course.
One of the other marking lectures was the first session of Grand rounds, we ended up the day with great tips on how to find and think of differentials in difficult situations.
The high quality of the different lectures was maintained throughout the week, I specially found the clinical path conference very interesting. I learned a lot about endocrine associated diseases that we might encounter a lot in our daily practice. The intellectual challenge continued with the Water and salt conference, which brought me some new reflexes in managing dysnatremias.
The day was concluded in a great team work about evaluating the quality of management of a clinical situation. I found those workshops in small groups very stimulating, and also very helpful to connect more with our colleagues. The discussions always turn out to be fruitful.
Another important aspect of this day, was the verbal and non-verbal communication in presenting. This kind of presentations is one of the strongest aspects of this course. As it gave us some clues about presenting science, that we would never have learned anywhere else.
The third day was full of surprises and very unusual topics were on schedule. I enjoyed the love sickness lecture, this was the first time I ever saw medicine associated to art. The stimulating interaction reached its peak in the second clinical path conference. We learned some new diagnosis to think about in unusual presentations, and the orator’s energetic presenting skills made it one of my most favourite sessions.
I think no one could think of a better way to end this third day than a trip to Amsterdam. This social activity made us bond with each other, and experience some of the greatest aspects of Amsterdam altogether. I have been in the city before, but this time was different. Visiting the city with a group of young doctors from all over Europe, and the ESIM organizators was a wonderful experience.
The end of the week was almost there, I was afraid I would be exhausted by the last days and would not be able to concentrate on the lectures. But the quality of the subjects treated, and also the presenting skills of the orators helped me make It through the whole week with the same energy and maybe even more than day one. This was the case in the clinical toxicology presentation, that was very practical, leaving us with the main syndroms and the tips to manage them. The day ended beautifully with a theoretical and practical session of ultrasonography. It made me realize how important it is to manipulate sonographs as an extended clinical tool for practicians. And stimulated me to practice more since my return from ESIM.
The last day arrived, bringing me nostalgia. The course was close to its end, and I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say that we would have gladly stayed for another week or even more. But unfortunately all good things come to an end.
The gender reveal was another non conventional presentation that shed light on a sensitive aspect of our practice. It brought up some interesting gender differences in risk factors, metabolism and pathology that should be known by all practicians.
The week would not have been perfect without a touch of physical exercise, and the organizers have thought of this part too, and included a 30 min yoga/bootcamp session every morning. I enjoyed the yoga, it was a great way to start the day and get rid of the stress and fatigue of the day before.
After this intensive week, I came back to Morocco with a different view on internal medicine. We always tend to concentrate on specific auto-immune diseases, but there is so much more for it. I am practicing more ultrasonography and trying to spread the knowledge I gathered around me.
After everything said, I have to thank the FDIME again for this life changing experience, and specifically the organizators for their kindness, accessibility and attention. My gratefulness is beyond words, I am glad I have won dozens of new friends across Europe, and look forward for future events together.