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Student Life

The other side

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 01 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:060132
  1. Filip Simunovic, medical student1
  1. 1Split University School of Medicine, Split, Croatia

Medical student Filip Simunovic decided to spend his summer holidays working as a porter in a German hospital and explains how working on “the other side” was an enlightening and rewarding experience

When thinking about the most useful way to spend a free summer, I had a few ideas in mind. Firstly, that I was not able, as a first year medical student lacking in knowledge and skills, to participate in a clinical clerkship. For similar reasons I was not prepared to plunge into a research environment. Secondly, I wanted to improve my German by living in a German speaking country. Thirdly, taking into account the World Health Organization's guidelines on medical education1; the recommendations of the World Federation for Medical Education2; and those of the Association of American Medical Colleges,3 which name knowledge, skills, and attitude the three most desirable qualities of a doctor, I presumed it would be beneficial to work on my attitude. I decided to find a position that would empower me, with full access to a hospital, and give me the opportunity to experience hospital life from a different perspective. So I applied for a month's work as a porter at Heidelberg University Hospital.

Getting my bearings

My port of call was the University Hospital for Internal Diseases. The southern part of the hospital is divided into two sections, each comprising eight wards for inpatients and …

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