Testimonial – BRISTOL

Experiences EFPT Exchange Program in Bristol 

From 18/5/ to 7/6/2014 (Host Institution: University of Bristol; Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership and North Bristol Trust)

from Dr. Sarah Maria Birkle (2nd year of training in child– and adolescent psychiatry, Hamm; Germany)

First of all, congratulations to all those who are allowed to spend the EFPT-exchange program in the next years in Bristol. You can look forward to a great exchange program as well as a great city.  The city will enchant you with its own particular charm.

Arrival/Public Transport

Before you start you should consider the best way to get to Bristol from your home country (and don’t forget the adapter for British power sockets). The city airport of Bristol is relatively close to the city with airlines such as Ryanair, Easyjet, KLM etc…There are regularly airport coaches driving into the town.  Another way to reach Bristol is for example through the London airports, which are served more frequently by flights, and then use the public transport such as train or bus to Bristol. In Bristol itself you can, for example use the buses (www.firstgroup.com/bristol) to reach your destination.

Accommodation

In my case I was very lucky to have the opportunity of accommodation at the house of the local coordinator of the exchange program (Kevin Holmes). On the basis of the fact that

the house where I had rented my room was very large, some nice, interesting people lived there also, among others, there lived another EFPT exchange trainee. I can really recommend this kind of accommodation where you can quickly get cultural contact with locals and other people. If you want to have your own room in the city centre you can use one of the hotels, hostels or B & Bs.

City of Bristol 

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Bristol has over 400 000 inhabitants, is the sixth largest city in England and is characterized in large part by the two local universities. Geographically, the city is very well situated; so many sights and cities such as Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, Cardiff, etc. can be quickly reached.  The most prominent feature of the city is the Suspension Bridge, which is located behind the nice and cozy district of Clifton.  Furthermore, the Cathedral is worth a visit in any case and Bristol also has some museums (in England for the most part free of charge).
The main building of the University, the Wills Memorial Building, after the suspension Bridge probably the most famous building in the city is located at the end of Park Street, which is home to numerous shops, bars, cafes and clubs.

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Environment of Bristol
In order to explore the area around Bristol e.g. trips to to Bath, Cardiff, Oxford, Stonehenge, the Cotswolds or Stratford-upon-Avon are recommended. This can be partly organized through the tourist information (http://visitbristol.co.uk/about-bristol/tourist-information/tourist-office). Many destinations can be reached by train or by bus. Renting a car can be another option.

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The EFPT-Programme

The observership placement at the University of Bristol (Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust and North Bristol Trust) was very varied, diverse structured and very well organized. Due to the fact that I am a trainee in child and adolescent psychiatry I am especially interested in this subject.

In the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health services) team of Knowle Clinic I could participate in the therapy sessions with the patients, I could join the interventions of the family clinic and do a school visit with one member of the team. I also had the opportunity to participate the regular training courses of trainees (CAMHS and adult psychiatry) and joined the psychiatry trainees forum which was organized by the local trainees. I also had the opportunity to visit the inpatient unit  for adolescents (Riverside). The unit aims to help young patients 13 to 18 years with various diseases and difficulties (e.g., affective disorders, eating disorders  …). There are 10 inpatient beds and 12 places for those who attend the Day Programme which runs Tuesday to Friday. The team at Riverside offers for the patients group, individual and family therapeutic interventions.
I also had the opportunity to gain impressions for the treatment of adult psychiatric patients. I was able to visit one of the “crisis teams”, the “early intervention in psychosis team” and could participate in home visits with the consultants, what has really impressed me.

All the consultants and team members were very nice, helpful and explained me a lot e.g. about the British Health Care System. They seemed also to be very interested in how we treat patients in Germany and I’ve enjoyed the cultural exchange very much. Particularly I was impressed by the flat hierarchies in the teams, the strong community team work, good team work of the different teams and the professionally dealing with partially scarce resources and was fascinating me.

Leisure time

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Bristol can never become boring!  When the weather is nice walks in the city center, the suspension bridge, or a coffee in the sun, such as the harbor and a picnic on College Green or Brandon Hill are possible. If the weather is not so good, then you can relax in one of the nice cafés (e.g. No. 1 Harbourside). In addition, there are countless bars and restaurants. Highly recommended is also the St. Nicholas Market, where you can buy relatively cheap food from different countries of the world, but also delicious British pies.
The cultural scene provides museums, which are for the most part in vain, a concert hall, a theater and numerous concerts. Whether you just want, having a drink with some friends, listen to live music or dancing in one of the many clubs in Bristol you can always find something!

Conclusion
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to spend  three very instructive and exciting weeks in England, which I really enjoyed.  In both directions professionally and personally I was enriched by the stay in Bristol and it was probably one of the best experiences in my previous professional life. Bristol itself has pleased me very well and also at the University Clinic of Bristol (Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership Trust and North Bristol) I always found myself in good hands.
I am very grateful that such an experience was made possible and I would always take on this exchange again. Thank you very much to all who were involved to made this unique experience possible.

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