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SICOT e-Newsletter

Issue No. 71 - December 2014

Fellowship News

Report on the 'SICOT meets SICOT' Training Fellowship at Århus University Hospital, Denmark

Joseph Asuquo
SICOT Associate Member - Calabar, Nigeria


My journey started when I received an email from Prof Jochen Eulert informing me that my fellowship training had been approved by the Århus University Hospital NBG, Denmark. My contact at the University was Prof Cody Bünger who is the Head of the Spine Department. We exchanged some emails where he introduced me to Lone Simonsen, his secretary. She was my contact and guided me through the process of getting my temporary work permit with the help of Inge Bachman of the International Centre. This was mired by delays due to the absence of a Danish diplomatic mission in Nigeria, so I salute their efforts.

I finally got to Århus on 4 March. I was picked up by Rang, a PhD student, who took me to my hostel on the directive of Lone. He showed me around (where to find the grocery stores, where to take the bus, and so on), then I settled in. I started work the next day where I was met by the Chief Surgeon of the Spine Unit, Dr Ebbe Hansen, who introduced me to all the staff members I was going to be working with. Afterwards, he got me acquainted with the daily routine of the various Consultants. I was given my own apparel and joined the clinic on the first day. I was then taken to the operating theatre. The Spine Unit runs two suites every day but I could only scrub in one. I was warmly welcomed by the theatre personnel. Prof Bünger was in Norway for a meeting but he welcomed me upon his return.

My day usually began with a general morning conference for all orthopaedic surgeons, then a Unit review of all inpatients, overnight admissions and theatre list for the day. We usually had the clinical radiological conference and the tumour conference once a week on Wednesdays. This was a busy day for Prof Bünger who had to attend all these conferences and run his child and adolescent scoliosis clinic which lasts until the evening. They prepared my roster in such a way that I could work with all the spine surgeons, namely Drs Haisheng Li, Kristian Hoy, Peter Helmig, Ebbe Hansen and Kristutis. Although they operate on all parts of the spine they subspecialise for research purposes (this really struck me because they are a research-based institution). I was encouraged to write an article with the help of Miao Wang, Haisheng Li and Cody Bünger which I presented at the SICOT Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was exposed to the navigation system which made surgery look simple. I scrubbed in over 40 spine surgeries, of which I was the first assistant. These included: scoliosis, spinal tumour, trauma and degenerative diseases. Some of the operations were done as an emergency, especially trauma.

The trip was not all about work. I also visited some of the site attractions in Århus, such as the museum, sandy beaches, ports, nightclubs and suburbia. Prof Cody Bünger took me out for dinner and showed me the coastal areas and the forest.

I want to thank my wife, Dr Best, for her patience and support, and Emmanuel, my son, who was only one month old when I left. I express my profound gratitude to SICOT for selecting me and to the management of Århus University Hospital NBG for their hospitality. I appreciate the tireless effort of Lone who always saw to it that I was comfortable, the canteen staff, the nurses, theatre personnel and, last but not least, to all the surgeons of the Spine Department. TAK!!!!!!!!!!