Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: University of Iowa
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2011/2012

Arrival and registration

I arrived over Easter weekend and there was no introduction day at that time of year. I contacted Global Friends in regards to help picking up my keys, but never heard back from them. The University Accommodation Center was not located near my residence, so this was slightly inconvenient as I did not know my way around yet. The international coordinator arranged my appointment at Student Health for MRSA testing and this went well. 


I applied for housing through UAC and was placed in Pax. This was conveniently located at a T-stop and bus stop to KI. I had a private room with bathroom and a shared kitchen. The space was clean and adequate for my stay. I felt the cost was reasonable. 

Leisure time and social activities

I was originally on the Global Friends mailing list and received several emails prior to arriving in Sweden, however while I was there not much seemed to be going on as mailing ceased. It was challenging to meet Swedish students, as they were not included on my course, nor do they live in Pax. I did meet with one Swedish student who is doing the exchange for my institution. Otherwise, living in Pax, there were many exchange students often doing things. I also spent time with the other exchange students on my course. I traveled to meet friends from my previous abroad experience. My course was only 4 weeks, and this made it especially hard since as soon as I started getting the hang of things, I left! 


I went on a year-long exchange during my undergraduate education and it was such a great experience, I wanted to do another short exchange while in medical school. My home institution has an exchange program with KI that includes a scholarship, so this was how I became aware of the opportunity. The exchange information provided by my home institution and KI was adequate. I was not required to have additional vaccines or bring certificates. I did have testing for MRSA at home in the small chance I was positive and required treatment. 

Courses during the exchange period

ELAXX6 : Surgery 1
Teaching was dependent on the mentor, as there were no lectures. Some were excellent teachers. There was no exam--just the EBM assignment mentioned previously. The course was very specialized, so unfortunately not very relevant to my degree, however the basic endocrinology and surgical techniques are always relevant. There was minimal to no supervision, which was fine. The course could be improved with lectures and increased student responsibilities.


In general, I was slightly disappointed in the clinical rotation. I had essentially no clinical responsibilities and this was a big change from my home institution. Also the course was very narrow and I wish it would have actually been "General Surgery" as I had arranged. I did learn about the Swedish medical education and healthcare systems which were goals of mine, so that was a success. Stockholm is a beautiful city and I enjoyed all the time I had to sight-see and travel. 

Language and Culture


Studies in general

I was placed in the General Surgery Course, however, it was actually Endocrine Surgery. The Swedish students were not a part of this course. The course consisted of observing a different physician each day either in the OR or clinic. There was one assignment, and evidence based medicine literature search, due at the end of the 4-week rotation. There were no lectures. 

Clinic was conducted entirely in Swedish with some translation, depending on the mentor. Surgeries were also in Swedish mostly, again with translation depending on mentor. The rotation was very different from my home institution in that it was more of observing rather than having an active role with the patient. This was in part due to the language barrier, but also a difference in student expectations. 

The schedule in general was much more relaxing, with responsibilities never starting prior to 8:30 and often ending at 15:00. Weekends were entirely free. 

In general, this rotation could have been improved with clear student objectives and a more active role for the exchange student. I also think a minimum of lectures on select topics would have been helpful. Perhaps topics could in surgery or Swedish healthcare.