T minus 4 days

I’ve been doing a lot of report-writing and speech-writing and summarizing for work lately, so I guess now is as good a time as any to let everyone know what I’ve been doing for the last 8 months in Nice besides cooking, tanning, making day trips to Italy, and eating ice cream 🙂

My research this year was in medical simulation, which involves using devices and mock scenarios to teach doctors how to do different medical procedures or how to deal with different situations.  My goal was to build a device to teach doctors how to manage a hernia in a baby because it’s actually a really common condition—hernias happen in 1-5% of newborns, most commonly in boys, and in up to 30% of premature babies!

I ended up building 2 models.  One of them is a surgical model that will hopefully be used down the road to allow residents to practice surgically repairing a hernia in a baby on the model before they do it in the OR.  The benefit is that they can get used to working in a smaller space and they can make mistakes when they practice on the model without hurting a patient.  The model is basically a Tupperware container covered in fake “skin” with fake “organs” inside.  The doctor has to dissect through the tissue and repair the hernia without cutting anything important.  It’s really cool to see the doctors actually using the model and we’ve gotten really good feedback so far.

Surgical model

Using the surgical model in Paris

Surgical model

Fake organs

The second model is a baby doll that’s been modified to have a “hernia”—basically a balloon with a sponge inside.  It will hopefully be used to teach parents of premature babies how to take care of a hernia if they notice their child has one before they bring them to the hospital.

Clinical model

A poor baby doll with a hernia

Two weeks ago, I presented my project at the 19th annual meeting for the Society in Europe for Simulation Applied to Medicine in Paris!  I was nervous, of course, because I’m not a great public speaker, but it ended up going really well.  The rest of the conference was really interesting and I got to see some good presentations about teamwork in simulation, current research projects, and how it’s possible to turn an MRI into a 3 dimensional image to guide surgery!  I also got to hang out with some of my old colleagues (and bosses) from Chicago, who were also attending the conference 🙂

Presenting my project

Presenting my project

After the conference, I got to do a little bit of traveling around France to test my model.  I visited 4 simulation centers/hospitals in France: Angers, Limoges, Paris, and Strasbourg.  I met lots of surgeons, pediatricians, emergency medicine docs, anesthesiologists, gynecologists, and students who helped me by using and evaluating my models.  We’re hoping to use the results from this testing to publish a few papers and present at a few more conferences… fingers crossed.

More on the travel part of the trip to come, but the testing and sim center visits were really interesting.  Going to school and working at the Center for Education in Medicine at Northwestern really spoiled me, and I’m sure going to med school at Ohio State is going to spoil me even more.  Both Northwestern and OSU have incredible resources and state-of-the-art simulation centers.  The medical school at the University of Nice and the hospital in Angers also have pretty large simulation centers, but nowhere near the amount of resources or technology.  The sim center in Limoges was really small—only 2 rooms with one computer to control the 2 life-sized mannekins.  It was really interesting to see the differences in simulation in medical education between France and the US.  At Northwestern, simulation is integrated into the curriculum now from the first year of medical school, whereas the University of Nice is just starting to implement a mandatory simulation component to the resident curriculum.  Simulation training isn’t mandatory at all in Limoges.

During my Fulbright project in France, I was also applying to medical schools back in the US and am happy to say I’ll be matriculating at OSU in August (GO BUCKS)! 🙂  But throughout the application process, I was flabbergasted by the cost of medical school.  Med students are graduating with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt and pretty soon it’s going to get to a point where we ask ourselves is the outcome worth the investment?  Contrast this to medical school in France, where students pay about 200 euros (or $260) per year to go to school.  Sure, French doctors make about 1/3 what their American counterparts make, but they’re also not paying back a quarter of a million dollars in loans and interest.  My “tour de France” put a lot of this into perspective.  Medical school costs a lot less in France, but French medical students also have far fewer opportunities than American medical students in, for example, simulation.  One of the residents I talked to in Limoges said that it’s basically up to you to go the extra mile.  I like to think I’ve had some solid experience with simulation and I’ve seen how helpful it can be within medical education.  It might be naïve of me to say, but I think I would pay the extra money (or at least some of it) to have these amazing opportunities.

Anyways, I’m pretty much wrapping up work here.  One more presentation tomorrow, this time in French, and flying to Africa on Tuesday! 🙂

 

French word for today:
bronzer (bron-ZAY)- to tan
Je bronze très facilement sous ce beau soleil méditerranéen !
I tan very easily under this nice Mediterranean sun!

Fulbright Seminar on the EU

Every year, the Belgian Fulbright Commission holds a “Seminar on the European Union” in Luxembourg and Belgium. Last week, 39 American Fulbrighters from several EU member states gathered in Brussels for the conference. I was honored to be one of the representatives from France.

I was really excited for this trip because I’ve been living in Europe for 5 months but don’t know much about the politics here and, as a busy engineering and French major, I’d never really had an opportunity to take a class at Northwestern. I learned more about international politics in this week than ever before! Throughout the seminar, we visited several different EU institutions, where we listened to speakers, sat in on meetings, asked questions, and met some very important people. I was particularly interested in science policy in the EU and how politicians and scientists collaborate to create and advocate for evidence-based policies, as it seems like the gaping chasm between science and the US government is growing every day. Although we didn’t get to discuss these issues specifically, I learned a lot about the challenges that researchers face today and also know that it’s important, now more than ever, to encourage support for scientific programs funded jointly by the EU and the US.

Each institution told us about its purpose and the problems it’s currently facing. Here’s a breakdown:

Luxembourg
Reception with the US Ambassador to Luxembourg—On the first evening of the seminar we met Ambassador Robert Mandell at a reception at his house. We had the opportunity to mingle with him and his wife and some former European Fulbrighters to the US.

European Court of Justice—We sat in on a hearing with Europe’s version of the US Supreme Court. It was a case from the Netherlands about the owner of a coffee shop called “Bulldog,” who started making energy drinks. Red Bull was not too happy about this because the names sounded too similar. Most of the proceedings were in Dutch, so I used the opportunity to practice my French by listening to the French interpreters 🙂 After the hearing, we had a question and answer session with Judge Koen Lenaers, the Vice President of the European Court of Justice, and then lunch with 2 staff members.

IMG_1517

European Court of Justice

Brussels
European Commission—The European Commission is the executive body of the EU (and the building looks like the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter…) We listened to presentations on economics, foreign policy, the state of the European Union, and US-EU relations.

European Commission

European Commission

European Commission

European Commission

NATO—On Friday, we visited NATO and met the US Ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, who spoke with us very candidly about the role of the US in the (miliary) work of NATO. We also heard some very informative presentations about what exactly NATO does (from a NU alum! Go Cats!) Then we had lunch as guests of NATO, which is something they only do twice a year!

US Mission to the EU—On Friday afternoon we listened to presentations on the European Parliament, the US Mission to the EU, and the US Foreign Service, followed by a reception with Deputy Ambassadors Manzo and White from US NATO and US-EU.

Brugge
College of Europe—Finally, on Saturday we went to the College of Europe, which is an independent university institute of postgraduate studies, with students from all over the world. One of the most impressive things is that you have to be bilingual to attend the College of Europe (French and English are required), but most people speak at least 4 languages… and up to 11 languages! Then we heard an interesting presentation about US-EU relations. It was interesting to see that a lot of the political and economic differences between the two nations stem from differences in culture.

Brugge: "the Venice of the North"

Brugge: “the Venice of the North”

Belfry of Brugge

Belfry of Brugge

The seminar was a great opportunity to expand personal and professional networks, but we also got to do some sight-seeing in Brugge and had some down time to explore Brussels (read: eat waffles, chocolate, and fries with mayonnaise and drink lots of beer) 🙂 I made a bunch of new friends and now I have couches to sleep on all over Europe!

Grand place, the central square in Brussels

Grand place, the central square in Brussels

Manneken Pis, a famous Brussels landmark

Manneken Pis, a famous Brussels landmark

 

Belgian waffles!

Belgian waffles!

Lots of beer!

Lots of beer!

 

Chocolate demonstration

Chocolate demonstration

And some new friends :)

And some new friends 🙂

 

French word for today:
flaque (d’eau) (flak doh)– puddle
Il pleut depuis une semaine et il y a beaucoup de grandes flaques d’eau sur la terre.
It’s been raining for a week and there are a lot of puddles on the ground.