Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: University of Iowa
Study programme: Medicine
Exchange programme: INK
Semester: Spring semester 2013/2014
Name: Lindsay McConnell
Email address:

Arrival and registration

A medical student who worked at the pick-up service met me on the Friday before my rotation at the Central Station and had already picked up my room key.  She took us to the dorm, helped us get SIM cards for our phones and then took us to meet with the global coordinator at the University Accommodation Office where we got our IDs and set up our Karolinska student accounts.  I would highly recommend arriving on a weekday prior to your rotation and also to arrange for this invaluable service.  We were not able to do our MRSA testing until the first Monday of the rotation but this was no problem and hassle free.  


I applied for housing through the UAC and was given a one month lease for a reasonable price in Pax.   The dorm rooms are moderately sized and include a twin bed, long desk, large closet and personal bathroom.  Additionally, there is a communal kitchen with some supplies, a free laundry room and a sauna in the basement.  I lived in a great location and my room met all of my needs for my month in Stockholm. 

Leisure time and social activities

I traveled with a student from my University and we took advantage of our time in Stockholm and enjoyed exploring the city. We also spent time doing more relaxed things including walking along the water, going to movies, or getting work done in coffee shops.  Additionally, we socialized with global friends, other international students in the dorm and the medical residents from our respective rotations.  Unfortunately, since we came at the end of the year there and were only in Stockholm for a short time we missed out on the scheduled Global Friends events.


Every year my medical school provides the opportunity for two students to study at the Karolinska Institute.  After applying and completing an interview I was accepted and received paperwork from Karolinska that included an online application with preference for elective and timing of rotation.  Many months later I received my acceptance from Karolinska and was assigned my first choice in elective and dates.  Upon acceptance I received further information including instructions on applying for housing.  The information given through KI was very helpful and I appreciate help from our contact at the UAC.  

Courses during the exchange period

ELA003 : Ophtalmology 1
I am going into ophthalmology and was fortunate enough to have been assigned an ophthalmology elective where I learned both about my field of interest as well as about patient care and medical education in Sweden. I did not do anything specific to prepare beforehand but I had already done an ophthalmology rotation at my medical school so I had a baseline knowledge that was very helpful. Everyone was friendly and I think would be willing to teach someone who had zero experience but it was to my benefit to know some ophthalmology in advance. I had 2-3 days in each of the following subspecialties including anterior segment, oculoplastics, retina, pediatrics, general outpatient, and emergency. Through these fields I was saw a good variety of unique and common problems. Most of the clinic rooms had teaching scopes so I was able to see what the attending was doing. I didn’t always know what was going on specifically during the entire patient encounter but I was always told about the patient before they entered, their findings were explained in English as we saw them, and I was then told about the plan after the encounter ended. I did not ever scrub in in the OR but always watched either through the teaching scope or on a TV in the room. I was the only student during my month which was nice because everyone was very invested in making sure I had a good rotation. There is a student lounge with computers available. My rotation assignment was to keep a log of my patients and write up a case presentation for an interesting patient from each subspecialty. I presented this as the end and my clerkship director filled out the required evaluation form my medical school.


The KI program is very well organized and I appreciated their support both as I prepared for my trip as well as throughout my time abroad.  This program provides a great opportunity for pursuing a specific medical field and also an interest in learning about foreign healthcare administration and education.   This was a unique cultural and medical experience that provided me with a new perspective on healthcare implementation and medical education.

Language and Culture

I did not participate in any Swedish language courses.  Fortunately most people spoke English and were able to explain to me what was going on in clinic.  I picked up basic and relevant vocab throughout my month in Stockholm.

Studies in general

I found all of the faculty I worked with to be approachable and interested in education.  Everyone in the hospital spoke English and many of the staff had some sort of training in another country.  Not only was everyone good at telling me about our patients and their findings, but they were also very interested in telling me about the Swedish healthcare and education systems.  The clerkship adviser catered my schedule to my interests and was very interested in feedback throughout the rotation.  Residents play a different role here especially with regards to surgery so I actually worked mainly directly with attending physicians.