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Human heart fascinates me, says Norwegian med student

Twenty-seven-year-old Norwegian Eirik Karlsen worked in the army for three years but then found out during a first-aid training session that he was drawn to working with and treating people. So, he decided to go back to school again, this time as a general medicine student at MU.

He's now in his final year and can't wait to be a doctor. And he's not that far away from his degree. He’s already passed four final exams and completed compulsory internships in surgery, gynaecology, and internal medicine. All he has to do is finish his internship at the children's hospital and pass his last exam in paediatrics in May.

“The last year of studies is very demanding because of the internships and state exams that we take every two months from October. On the other hand, we have a lot of contact with patients thanks to the internships in the hospital, which is what I enjoy most about my studies. The first two years were the most challenging for me. I was learning theory every day from morning till night. There is a lot of theory at the beginning. But then the fun came,” says Eirik.

In his penultimate year of study, the MU Simulation Centre (SIMU) opened. There he got to try various medical procedures, including resuscitation, on mannequins standing in for real patients. According to him, his courses at SIMU were one of the most interesting parts of his studies at MU, and he greatly appreciates that MU students have a training hospital at their disposal, unlike at other universities.

He also appreciates the time students spend in the hospital while at MU. He has already worked in many departments in five hospitals in Brno, including traumatology, maternity, internal medicine, and plastic surgery. In addition, the faculty allowed him to complete part of his internship in Norway, so he spent five weeks in Lillehammer as a doctor in a home for the elderly, where he also took care of dying patients, which was mentally challenging for him at first.

However, he is most interested in cardiology and is seriously considering specializing in this area in the future. “We had an excellent professor in cardiology at MU. It was my favourite class. It was also a great experience to visit the operating room, where I could see how heart surgeries are performed today and how much the whole field is changing thanks to new technologies,” says the student.

To learn as much as he could about the heart, he also completed an eight-week internship in cardiology. As part of the internship, he gave himself a personal challenge and tried to listen to the hearts of at least five patients every day with a stethoscope and make a diagnosis based on the sound. When he then consulted the medical records, his guess was usually correct. “The human heart just fascinates me. It's amazing how such an organ works. And there's so much we don't know. There's still room to move,” he adds.

But before focusing fully on the human heart, he would like to try other medical disciplines. So, this summer he plans to work in Lofoten in the trauma ward at the local hospital while travelling around the islands. Then he would like to apply for the Norwegian Young Doctors Programme, where he will work in surgery and internal medicine and as a GP in the countryside for six-month intervals.

“I will miss Brno very much. It is so social. There are so many cafés, pubs, restaurants, and lots of opportunities to spend your free time here. But I have to admit that I am looking forward to being able to communicate with patients in Norwegian. Czech is really difficult for me,” laughs the young doctor.