Birte’s trial day at the university hospital Amsterdam AMC

Birte completed her apprenticeship in August 2018 as an operating department practitioner (OTA) in Germany. Shortly after finishing her degree she had the desire to gain working experience in the Netherlands, preferably in Amsterdam after graduating. During her search which was full of ups and downs, Birte came across TMI just before she wanted to cancel her plans. She found “not only energetic support, but also a service (she) hadn't even imagined in (her) dreams.” TMI helped Birte finding the right contacts and soon she was invited by the AMC in Amsterdam to a trial day. The following blog reports about Birte's expectations, emotions and experiences in the form of a detailed interview.

TMI turns nervousness into self-confidence 

In the morning of my trial day at the AMC I was very nervous because I only knew German hospitals and the way of working in Germany. Of course I wanted to present myself in the very best light because as everyone knows, the first impression of an employee is very important. But I was also very excited and looking forward to meet my new employer, colleagues and the hospital. It was very nice for me to meet Merve for a coffee at the AMC before the appointment, a very nice and courteous account manager at TMI. In the hospital's own Starbucks we ordered our coffee around 7.15am and Merve gave me helpful tips to take the nervosity away. I was very happy that she stood by my side, because now I didn't have to find the door to the operating theatre alone. Furthermore, it was an exceptional situation that one does not experience every day as an applicant. In spite of my good knowledge of the Dutch language, it was still very comforting to know that Merve was there and able to translate ambiguities in case of need.

My first impression of the AMC in Amsterdam 

We entered the operating theatre area at around 8 a.m. and met with the OR management and the OR manager. During our conversation in the hospital, we spoke alternately in English and Dutch. The OR management spoke mainly in Dutch and fortunately I understood most of the language. but as soon as it became too complicated for me, I told them immediately and the OR management or Merve explained the respective point of the conversation to me again in English. The communication was bilingual. I was very happy because I had the opportunity to show how advanced my Dutch language skills are. After talking to the OR management, we went to the OR together and the OR manager temporarily said goodbye to us before I entered the OR with Merve.

My first operation at the AMC 

Arriving in the operating theatre, we first introduced ourselves to the participants of the operation. On this day I was allowed to attend two operations and the first operation was a liver resection. On this occasion I was able to ask questions to the surgical nurses for a while. On this day a trained permanent employee and a surgical assistant were present. I was therefore able to ask questions in between, while I was able to follow the entire operation.

The differences between the Netherlands and Germany 

During the first operation, the OTA worked at the operating table, while the trainee was employed as a jumper. A jumper is the second OR nurse in the OR team and supports wherever necessary. For example, she provides additional instruments and takes care of all concerns in the background to ensure a trouble-free operation. This gave me the opportunity to ask the trainees questions about the apprenticeship in the Netherlands. It is interesting to hear to what extent the training processes of the same profession in two neighbouring countries differ. I was only able to gain a small insight because I did not focus my questions on the training path and the time for questions was limited due to the ongoing operation. I was able to ask how things were going in the Netherlands in terms of training, how many exams to pass and so on. A big difference in training is the examinations. In Germany, it is typical to take a practical, written and oral examination at the end of your training. In the Netherlands, trainees prepare a script at the end of their training. I was able to ask some questions to find out if the training is similar and I think this is the case. The trainee was the ideal contact person, as she also arrived at the end of her training and because of her independent way of working I could immediately see that we were approximately at the same level.

An honest invitation from the AMC 

I had the opportunity to meet all the operating doctors in the room that day, as we were in the OR for a longer period of time. It was also very interesting to see the equipment. I was able to observe the entire procedure in the OR and was positively surprised, since the procedure resembles my accustomed environment in Germany very much. I was able to recognize processes. During the operation, the trainee showed me how the program works on the computer if the situation allowed it. I was able to get a concrete picture of what happens in the OR. I was able to get a detailed picture, ask my questions and get to know the participants. I appreciated this very much, because I think it would not have created such a lasting impression if we had only been treated as "short-term visitors" and had only been given the opportunity to have a short conversation and look at the operation instead of being allowed to participate in the operation.

My second operation and the collegial working atmosphere at the AMC 

In the second operation, the trainee worked at the table and the permanent employee was used as a jumper. Now I had the opportunity to ask the OTA questions about the team. She told me that she herself is a new member of the team and that the team is on average young and very open for new things, in plain language the team is not sleepy or closed. She further explained to me that the work at the beginning can be very demanding. In her case she worked in a smaller hospital before and she had to face a big change because she had to learn a lot to keep up with her colleagues at the AMC, which is a much bigger hospital. I learned that it was challenging for her at the beginning but over time it all worked out. After the conversation I had a really positive feeling, because to some degree I was afraid that I would meet a strict and closed team that was getting mad at me for not doing everything perfectly or not speaking the language perfectly well. The conversation gave me a good impression and, above all, took my fears away.

The conversation at the end of the day 

After the second operation, Merve and I were picked up by the OR management after having lunch with the two colleagues from the OR. Around 1pm the OR management came back and Merve sat down in the lounge and waited for me as I was invited to a conversation with the OR management. We then went to the office of the OR management and another member of the OR management was waiting for me, whom I had only briefly shaken hands to greet. In the conversation both members of the management were permanently present and we had a conversation. I was first asked how I liked it and what impression I gained. Basically they asked me how my day at the AMC went. I told them briefly that it was a very positive experience and which procedures in the OP I recognized. I also reported that I was very positively surprised and that I had the opportunity to talk to the staff. This was followed by my interview.

My trail day at the AMC in a nutshell 

The trial day did not only give me the opportunity to see the hospital or to get to know the OR management, much more I liked the opportunity to get a superficial impression of the work at the AMC. Moreover I met my future colleagues and superiors. It was nice seeing them in the middle of action and to be allowed to stand in active exchange with them during the operation. I was able to get a detailed impression of everyday life in the hospital and am very satisfied with the trail day and that such commitment is shown in order to introduce the AMC to the applicants. 

If you are interested in working as a operating department practitioner at the AMC then click here. You can also send Merve an E-Mail with your CV:

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