Portugal: Cardiothoracic Surgery Department

Submitted by Marlayna Salvesen on the 2020 winter session program in Portugal sponsored by the Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences and College of Arts and Sciences…

Week two in Lisbon was filled with the most amazing experiences. I was in the cardiothoracic surgery department in the hospital and I was able to see a triple coronary bypass, a hydatid cyst removal from a heart, an aortic valve replacement, and so much more. During each surgery, either the doctor or the resident was able to explain everything they were doing in English so I could learn as much from them as I could. It was so nice of them to take the time to actually try to teach me what they were doing, considering they were working in a very high-stress environment and their first language is Portuguese. One of the most shocking things I saw this week was that the cardio team ended up losing the angiogram right before a scheduled surgery. They do not have the technology to share angiograms between departments so it is usually on a CD. They were unable to find the CD with the angiogram on it, so the patient had to wait around an hour or two before they began surgery. Something like this would be a huge shock in the United States, while they did not seem to be quite as worried. All in all, the second week was amazing and I was able to learn so much from the doctors and surgeons.

My partner Serena and I right outside of the operating room during one of our days in the Cardiothoracic department; they have us put on disposable scrubs, a hair cover, a mask, and shoe covers.