Internship in Bilbao, Spain (Christina H.)

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An experience of a life time

In September 2018 I had the opportunity to do a four week internship for nursing studies at IMQ Zorrotzaurre because of a scholarship of ERASMUS+.  During this time, I worked in three different units: the Day-Surgery-Hospital (HDMQ), the emergency department, and last but not least, the operating theatres.

Thus, I had a good understanding of how the Spanish healthcare system is working, getting to know the differences between being a nurse in Spain compared to Germany, and the organisation and infrastructure of a private hospital in Spain.

I want to point out that all my comparisons refer to the hospital in Hamburg where I have been working lately. They are all personal experiences and not generalizations.

At the beginning of September, I was warmly welcomed at the HDQM. The first thing I noticed was that the profession of a nurse is different in Spain. In Germany, we have a three year education. In my case, almost four weeks of theory and then six weeks to practise what you have learned. We also do more auxiliary tasks. In IMQ, I felt a high appreciation as a nurse and also that the nurses and doctors work more on eye level than in my hospital.

Furthermore, in the first two weeks I experienced the meaning of paperless work. In this case, IMQ is ahead of my hospital where we have a lot more work with handwritten documentation. In addition, I liked the air pipe system. It is very useful and saves a lot of time, whereas we in my hospital still have to walk by ourselves for example to the laboratory.

The wonderful staff in the HDQM not only helped me learn how to put venous catheters especially my tutor “Loreto” made a high effort to explain me something about culture and language.

After a good start in the HDQM, I felt well prepared for the emergency department.  It was my favourite unit because I saw the most, practised a lot, and was able to learn and deepen my knowledge. Even if sometimes there were a lot of patients and a lot of stress for the staff, everybody took the time to explain and let me practise something. This was great because I like to apply all my knowledge quickly. Also, I recognized that Spanish nurses, from a legal standpoint, are allowed to do more in Germany such as blood gas analyses or blood transfusions. In Germany, this is a task for assistant doctors. Furthermore, I discovered that hygienic standards compared to my hospital vary a lot.

Finally, I worked in the surgery theatres. There I was allowed to help prepare sterile materials and watch over the shoulders of surgeons. One of my highlights was getting to sterilize myself and “assist” a little bit. The most interesting surgery was a replacement of an aortic valve by Dr. Castellanos since it was my first time watching an open heart surgery from so close. I am grateful that IMQ gave me the opportunity to see this kind of surgery and to see a human on the heart-lung-machine. Another highlight for me was to see the Da Vinci robot taking of the prostate. This was also very interesting because currently we only have five of those precise systems in Hamburg.

In conclusion, I can say that I am very pleased with the whole internship. The selection of the units as well as the whole organisation were very good. I felt welcomed by every employee and well supervised the whole time. They always respected my suggestions and wishes. I really appreciate how everybody was kind and willing to help me. Now I am back in Germany again with all these valuable experiences, not only professional but also political and cultural. To put it in a nutshell: Muchas gracias IMQ Zorrotzaurre! Estoy muy agradecida por esta experiencia y estería encantada de regresar y volver a trabajar con vosotros.

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