Category Archives: Romania 2013

Medical diplomats

On our last day of the trip, we decided to get in some more sightseeing in Bucharest.  We started with a visit to The Human Body Expo, after which we dropped off Priscilla at the airport.  It was very interesting not only to see the exhibit in another country, but also to go through the various galleries after completing anatomy.  The guides in the museum were second year medical students from the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest.  We got more insight on the medical education system in the country and it was good to see the regional differences between medical institutions.

In the afternoon, the team went to the Village Museum, which has a collection of over 200 traditional houses and farms from all over Romania.  The museum offers visitors an opportunity to see how homes evolved throughout the centuries and how peasants have lived in the country.

After that, we visited Bucharest’s historic Bellu cemetery, in which Romania’s prominent poets, writers, politicians, doctors, and other personalities have been buried since 1858.  Each profession has its own “neighborhood” and we saw a number of physicians and scientists who had made medical breakthroughs.  Nicolae Paulescu was a physiologist who contributed to the discovery of insulin and has a very elaborate gravestone.

The team wanted to buy some delicious traditional cheese to bring back with them, so we went to a local store and got plenty of it, plus some snacks for the trip back.  We arranged for airport pickup for everyone and will meet again back in the states to debrief and work on the presentation to the school.

This trip has been an incredible opportunity for all of us.  We are grateful to the Joint Opportunities in New Universal Health Technologies Scholarships for making this trip possible.  We would like to thank Dr. Maguire for his unwavering support from the beginning of the project to its completion.  We also extend a warm thanks to Dr. Fox for his incredible patience throughout the process and willingness to help us hone our ultrasound skills even after a 12 hour shift in the ED.  His commitment to us has been amazing.  We also want to acknowledge Samantha Constantini who helped to train us on several ultrasound modules before our trip.  And of course,  a special thank you to my teammates who have carried the project through beautifully.

During the trip, we have strengthened our ultrasound skills, improved our teaching ability, and met some wonderful colleagues in medicine.  We have learned what it takes to plant the seed of collaboration between universities.  There are incredible opportunities for the two medical schools to work together to improve clinical and public health.  Working in an international setting provides its own set of opportunities and challenges.  Our experience during the past week has shown us that there are dedicated people on both sides who wish to improve the medical education system, though there is a tremendous amount of effort that is needed to accomplish that.

The medical students at The Faculty of Medicine in Transilvania are very bright and were extremely receptive to our ultrasound teaching program.  The administration really cares about the students and the professors really make an effort to provide the best possible education with existing resources.  We would love to see a long term relationship between the two universities flourish and will do our best to help facilitate that process.

Goodbye and Happy Birthday!

Saturday was our last day at the medical school. The students took a post-test and they showed how much they had learned in only a week. Most had just graduated, and I realized that at this point, I was hardly qualified to teach them at all. Many of the students stayed after the test to see other things using ultrasound that we hadn’t done during the week such as looking at muscles and bones, but eventually we had to catch our train back to Bucharest. Saying goodbye to such good people is always hard, but having met such caring people in the first place has been incredibly valuable to us all. It is hard to describe how generous and warmhearted everyone has been to us. It has truly been a humbling experience.

The train ride to Bucharest was gorgeous. We passed through such lush countryside and small villages that were pressed up against the mountains.

In Bucharest, we celebrated the birthdays of Cosmin and his cousin. We again had some great traditional food and of course no meal would be complete without amazing cheeses!  What we will all miss most about Romania is the food and the people. Since we can’t bring the people, we have decided to bring the food and plan to each bring home about a year’s supply of Romanian cheeses!

Dracula’s Castle & Gallbladders???

Friday was our last day of teaching at the Faculty of Medicine in Brasov. But before we got right to ultra-sounding, we were up with the sun and drove to Bran, about 45 minutes away from Brasov.

Bran is home to Dracula’s Castle! You just can’t go to Transilvania without stopping by Bran!!! One of our students, Ami, met us there to show us around the castle and her hometown of Bran, which made the experience even more special.

Bran was beautiful. Dracula’s large white castle is perched high in the lush green forest. The inside has secret staircases, and places to pour piping hot tar on intruding enemies—well at least in past, not so much today.

After the castle, Ami took us to her home for a snack. Nothing is quite like Romanian hospitality. We had a spread of Romanian meats, cheeses, fresh tomatoes, homemade bread, and sour cherry liquor. It was all washed down with a sweet sweet cup of coffee, choc full of real sugar.

While it was great to do some sight seeing, we had to get back to teaching ultrasound. Priscilla did a great job teaching the hepatobiliary module. Hungry as we were from always being on the run, we were able to show off some great gallbladders!!! The students picked up ultrasound so well and it was great to see their enthusiasm grow as the week progressed and they were able to hone their skills.

After finishing a long day of scans and teaching, we met with the Dr. Sechel, Dr. Rogozea, and Dr. Moga for dinner. Dr. Sechel and Dr. Rogozea have been working with us side-by-side the entire week. They have been an amazing resource and friends to us all. Dr. Moga is the dean of the medical school and it was a pleasure to talk to him over a traditional Romanian meal of vegetables, meats, and pastries.

Talking about their healthcare system, juxtaposing it to our own, and talking about the future of medicine with these three doctors was amazing. Being treated not as a foreigner or student, but rather as a colleague, made this discussion even more meaningful to me.

My time in Romania as been a wonderful experience. I have grown intellectually & culturally in ways that I did not know I could. I am so grateful for the students we have taught, the friends we have made, and the rich memories and stories that we will take back to us to the States.

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Party, Romanian style!

On Thursday we got to experience what a Romanian party was, and let’s just say… I want to marry a Romanian just so we can have a wedding and party like this again!!

Before we danced the night away however, we had a full day of ultrasound and then some. Each day is just loaded here in Romania. Today, Cosmin taught the students about the eFAST, and signed them up for sessions on Saturday where they would be tested about the ultrasounding that they’ve learned this week. We have both a written exam and practical planned for them, so it’ll be interesting to see what they’ve gotten from just one week of instruction. No matter how they do, they are excited to learn more and want to take this program again next year! Cosmin did a great job teaching, giving examples of cases when to use the eFAST exam and joking with the students. They’ll never forget that lesson, Cosmin! 🙂

Afterwards, we toured the Black Church, a church in Brasov named so because it was in a great fire a couple of centuries ago. The church survived and was renovated, however, much of the outside was kept and so remains black from the fire. All the churches here are so elaborate and ornate! This one contained pews from all the guilds in the village  way back in history, and even housed tombstones of kings and famous figures. The church also has regular organ concerts, however we were unfortunately unable to attend today.

Finally, we spent the last 6 hours of the night attending the 6th year’s dance party. They sure know how to throw a party!! Everyone was dressed so elegantly, and we dined at this beautiful facility on the outskirts of the city facing the beautiful mountainside. The party was 10 hours long and lasted untill 4am, during which they would alternate between sessions of dancing and eating. Traditional songs were played between modern songs, and all the students would do traditional dances, inviting us to join in as well. We couldn’t last all night, but that was one party I will never forget!

Exploring Romanian Medicine, Medical Education, and Hospitality

The students and faculty here at the Faculty of Medicine in Brasov, Transylvania have been so hospitable and warm to us. This morning, Dr. Gabriela Sechel, a Radiologist and faculty at the school, took us to visit a private hospital and public hospital to help us build a better perspective of the medical system in Romania. At the private hospital, we were able to look at some abdominal ultrasounding in progress, observe a barium swallow test, view some radiographic images, and see the patient rooms. The hospital was only 2 years old and beautiful. We also stopped by the obstetrics/gynecology unit at the state hospital and got a tour through the NICU and postpartum areas. Below is an image of the team with Dr. Sechal at the private hospital followed with one of us at the public hospital.



In the afternoon, we attended the medical student graduation ceremony and were so proud to watch some of our ultrasound students graduate. The system here is different from the states. Students enter medical school directly after high school and then attend medical school for 6 years before graduating. Once done, they take a national exam and based solely on the score, they get put into residencies. Graduation was a very emotional event because although we’ve only briefly known these students, we have gotten so close so quickly. The students have been so kind, showing us the best places to eat, taking us to zumba classes, going out of their way to take us to the grocery store, and even offering to open their homes to us for some home-made Romanian food. Their hospitality seems endless. Below is a photo of the students at their ceremony.


After the ceremony, we had another amazing day of teaching. Jeff did a great job going over how to ultrasound the heart and the students had a great time practicing. The last few days of teaching have been long, with about 7-8 hours of teaching each day, but extremely rewarding. We can see the steep learning curve in progress as our students have gone from knowing very little ultrasound to being so much more proficient. This is the first medical school in all of Romania to officially have an ultrasound course like this offered to their students. We are proud to be a part of this experience and to work with faculty who are so motivated to provide new opportunities to their students. I believe the team can wholeheartedly agree that this trip has been an amazing cultural exchange.

Living it up in Romania!

These Romanians are seriously some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. They are just so friendly and welcoming! Many of our students have invited us out to their graduation ceremony and graduation party this week! It’s great to share in this celebration, and I feel a camaraderie with them, imaging how hard they’ve worked to get through medical school in the last 6 years. Many of them were nurses before starting medical school, so it’s been quite a road for them.

The faculty is just as warm and gracious as the students. Today Gabby, the Chief of the Radiology Department and also the Anatomy professor, gave us a tour of their anatomy labs, chemistry labs, and lecture rooms. Tomorrow she will be bringing us to visit the hospital so that we can observe some departments before heading to their graduation. Excited!!


Brooke also had a splendid time teaching pulmonary ultrasound today. We had a larger crowd today as more students heard about our classes; nonetheless it went smoothly, and every student had hands-on time with the ultrasound machines. It is absolutely so fun to teach when you have such excited, eager students!! The Romanian students love to learn ultrasound! They hang onto all the details they can get, asking lots of questions, and excited to scan each other and us. They got even more excited when they saw B lines in my lungs, because I have a little cold. They were jumping up and down, high-fiving each other as I had a coughing fit. Good times. I ran overtime today, because my last student wanted to learn so much and I couldn’t say no. Looking forward to tomorrow!

The girls in front of the medical school building!

The girls in front of the medical school building!

~ Team Romania




First day of ultrasound teaching



Today we started the ultrasound teaching program at the Faculty of Medicine in Brasov.  I am extremely proud of the team for doing such an excellent job teaching and representing UC Irvine School of Medicine so well.  They are great teammates and have put in a tremendous amount of effort to move the project along.  Vivian did a fantastic job with the first lecture.  I’m sure Dr. Fox would be proud.

We received a warm welcome from the administration today and set up our teaching supplies for the week.  Some of the Romanian students joined us for lunch and we had an informative conversation about the health system and the medical education system here in Romania.  The sixth years invited us to their graduation ceremony and celebration this week, a touching gesture considering they have worked so hard in medical school and will be surrounded by family and friends.

~ Team Romania

Dinner with Romanian Medical Students


Last night we ran into a few foreign medical students in the dorms and they showed us around Brasov and joined us for dinner.  The Faculty of Medicine attracts a number of international students.  This morning, our new friends made a traditional Syrian breakfast for us all in their dorm room, just an hour before their neonatology final!!!!


Sinaia Sights


Salutari from Romania!


Team Romania arrived in Bucharest on Friday night. On Saturday, we drove to Brasov, where we are teaching ultrasound to 5th and 6th year medical school students at the Faculty of Medicine at Transilvania.

We spent today doing some sightseeing and getting things ready for teaching—our ultrasound babies are currently charging up for their debut here.

We begin with an introduction and a lecture on knobology and ultrasounding the thyroid.

More updates to come!

-Team Romania