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Erasmus+ Traineeship Faculty of Medicine VU - Student Experience

7 July 2021
Erasmus exchange student and PhD Candidate Alex Kent about how she experienced her traineeship at Faculty of Medicine VU.

‘I came to the Faculty of Medicine VU as part of an Erasmus+ Student Mobility for Traineeships, and I had the pleasure of working with the Participation and Diversity Research Team in the Department of Medical Humanities between January 1st and July 31st, 2020. Although I faced the challenge of navigating unpredictable circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience was nothing short of extraordinary and I wouldn’t change a thing!

I never expected to have an opportunity to travel abroad as part of my studies because I always considered my research to be uniquely embedded in a Canadian context. Specifically, my research has primarily focused on systemic and structural inequities in the Canadian healthcare system that result in barriers to healthcare access and disparities in health outcomes for Indigenous populations. My approach to research is also inherently interdisciplinary, making it difficult to locate myself within a specific department. However, I found an unexpected “home” halfway across the globe at Faculty of Medicine VU.

As it turned out, my research interests align closely with Team Participation and Diversity, which is leading in the Netherlands and globally in the field of participatory action research to address health care inequalities and issues related to diversity and inclusivity. The team’s interdisciplinary approach and commitment to value-driven transformation of health research, healthcare practices, and health sciences/ health professional education was a perfect fit for me. During my traineeship, I was presented with many enriching opportunities. For instance, I conducted a systematic review, I co-authored a position paper, I delivered seminars, I mentored students, I co-developed training curricula, and I collaborated with incredible scholars whom I learned a great deal from.

In addition to the invaluable opportunity to advance my education and career through the traineeship, living in Amsterdam for seven months was an unforgettable experience. Cycling along the canals or through Vondelpark in the summertime was breathtaking. I also enjoyed exploring other cities in the Netherlands, particularly Giethoorn (the Venice of the Netherlands) and going to Tilburg to celebrate Carnaval with my Dutch relatives. Additionally, I was fortunate to be able to travel to other parts of Europe, including Germany, Austria, France, Spain and Portugal, with friends I met in my student hotel.

Overall, my experience at Faculty of Medicine VU exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes to a world of possibilities for future international research collaborations. I look forward to my next opportunity to visit my colleagues and friends in Amsterdam!’