Jan 2018 Rotterdam, Reconstructive Fellowship - Luis Enrique Meza (Cali, Colombia)

“I had an amazing opportunity in Rotterdam at the Erasmus Medical Center. Upon arrival I had the opportunity to choose between the three main areas that this Center focuses on:  microsurgical reconstruction, congenital hand and craniofacial surgery. I chose to be at the Pediatric Hospital with the pestigious and world-wide recognized Craniofacial team.

The plastic surgery craniofacial team in the OR is usually composed of 2 main surgeons (Prof. Mathijssen and Dr. Versnel, and many pediatric neurosurgeons), 1 or 2 residents, 1 or 2 medical students and the DAFPRS fellow.  I had the opportunity to observe and ocasionally assist several craniofacial procedures (syndromic and non-syndromic craniosynostosis, cleft lip and palate procedures among others). The usual day consisted of arriving in the OR around 8am and observing/assisting surgical procedures (usually 2/day) until 5.30 PM. Other than the surgical procedures there was an outpatient clinic 1-2/week which was allowed me to learn their protocols and to observe the post-op results. There is also a skills-lab which was one of the most exciting experiences. You are allowed to visit the skills lab once a week to practice, learn how to do an anastomosis on a rat and there is trained person who is teaching and assisting you.

Not everything was perfect. Upon arrival, the secretary in charge of the fellows had a medical issue and was sadly absent. Due to this, no one of the other secretaries really knew what to do. I had to get my MRSA examinations/HR visit on my own, no one knew about the bike location and the key for it, so no bike was available and my ID-badge application was delayed so I got the ID-badge late and for the first 6 weeks I was not able to visit the skills-lab.

About the city: Rotterdam is an amazing multicultural english-fluently-spoken city. People are very friendly and very enthusistic with foreigners. The city has many attractions and is strategically located very close to Amsterdam, Den Haag, Brussels, Antwerpen, Paris, etc. I stayed at one of the apartments offered by the DAFPRS programmm (on Hooidrift-street), I chose the big room which had its own washbasin and was very comfortable. I had a nice 20 minutes walk to the hospital through a beautiful neighborhood and saved a lot of money on public transportation. In conclusion, I totally recommend the DAFPRS Porgramm in Rotterdam. I had an amazing experience and learned lots. I advise you to contact the secretaries in advance and when possible arrange your ID badge ahead of time, so you are able to enjoy the skills lab.”

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