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Exchange Programme

Exchange programme

Critical care nursing in Europe varies from one country to another. The EfCCNa Exchange Programme enables critical care nurses to spend some time on a ICU in another European country.

Aims and Objectives of the programme

  • to widen the professional horizon of critical care nurses in Europe
  • to promote international collaboration and to share expertise
  • to stimulate the personal professional development of critical care nurses in Europe

Who can participate?

All critical care nurses or nurses working in intensive care who own a membership in their national professional organisation which is member of EfCCNa. Additionally, it is anticipated that participants have got a sound experience in intensive care nursing (5 y)

For more information on the programme see links below

Reports on the exchange programme

Since its implementation more than 40 European nurses have participated in the programme so far. Here are quotes from our last delegates.

From UK to Switzerland

Valentina Sciacca, United Kingdom 2019

Since I started working in Critical Care in UK, one of my dreams was to participate to the EfCCNa Exchange Programme, as I firmly believe that European Healthcare systems should promote cooperation between each others in order to integrate knowledge and therefore, improve the quality of care we deliver in the critical care area.

EfCCNa is a great organization which makes this opportunity a reality. I choose to visit the Cardiocentro Ticino in Lugano (Switzerland ) as I am a specialized Cardiothoracic intensive care nurse and  I am an Italian speaker. Ian Naldrett, the EfCCNa representative in Uk, contacted Paul van der Heiden from Switzerland. Luckily, Paul works at the Cardiocentro Ticino, therefore the process was easy and smooth.

I had the most amazing work experience I could dream of, Paul was exceptional, he made an excellent schedule for me and he went above the expectations. We both prepared presentations of our units, how we work and the services we provide; we shared ideas and professionals opinions.

I certainly recommend the EfCCNa Exchange programme, as it is a pure moment of professional growth and promote awareness of the different practice in the critical care across Europe. Cooperation between European countries is the key improve and shape future of the Critical Care.

From Norway to Belgium

Per Eling Bakkelund, Norway 2019

Through EfCCNa’s homepage, I found the “Exchange programme”  and contacted EfCCNa’s Norwegian contact person Mathilde Christensen who contacted Belgium’s contact person Arnaud Bruyneel. He suggested some hospitals from which I could choose. However, some of the hospitals had an absolute demand that I could speak French, one of the official languages in Belgium – which I do not. Nevertheless, I finally ended up at CHU Brugman where Yves Maule made an excellent schedule for me for an interesting week.

I will most definitely recommend the exchange-programme. Having insight in other work cultures is most rewarding and raises awareness to the work in your own unit.

Start the process early. Make your self an opinion on what you want from the exchange. Prepare a presentation of your own unit. Show photos and statistics on the population you serve and average days admitted, days on ventilator and such. This is always interesting to others with similar work and makes a basis to compare. Remember that this is an exchange – and it works both ways.

Talk to your colleagues before you go on an exchange, to find out what do we want to know? How do others solve their challenges? What are their procedures on different tasks? It is always interesting to know how others approach issues, and are their approach different from ours? 

A visit at the ICU at Tromsø Norway

Sabrina Pelz, Hamburg Germany 2017

After meeting qualified specialists from Norway at the EfCCNa congress in Belfast in February 2017 the possibility occurred to use the exchange program of EfCCNa to think outside the box – how do critical care nurses work in Norway? What are the differences to Germany?

The most important structural differences to Germany are the framework conditions for the Norwegian nurses with regard to the numbers of employees present at one shift. Because the intensive best care practise for the patient is the primary focus in Norway, there is a minimum of a one-to-one-ratio in care done by critical care nurses in every of the three shifts. For every four patients, there is additionally another qualified personnel nurse to support the critical care nurses at the bedside. Apart from that each shift has always one shift supervisor who is responsible for organisational tasks.

As a result the intensive care patient is in every scope of his treatment safeguarded. Best practice, continuity in care, high awareness of hygiene for a sanitary working environment, infection prevention, a faster achievement of the therapy goals especially the weaning can be designed to be more targeted and focused through intensive care. The critical care nurses use a more efficient, multi-disciplinary way of communication and relatives are also included in certain duties of this patient-centred care approach in Norway every day.

Because of these conditions the individual care for every patient with the current applied nursing and medical standards are ensured. The most important principle is that the patient will be never left alone by a nurse. Are there medical tasks to fulfil like drawing up the syringe in a special pharmaceutical room or the responsible critical care nurse has to take the mandatory break there will always be a critical care nurse present with the patient.

During my work shadowing I have enjoyed to be a part of this top quality and respectful way of working at the intensive care unit in Tromsø. Thank you very much to all of my colleagues at the Universitetssykehuset Nord-Norge for the impressive days and the open admission to your team.

Level of nursing care in Sweden is high

Aurelia Sega, Ilona Nowak, Aleksandra Władymiruk from Poland  2015

The Exchange program was for us a great opportunity to show how there is one of the best intensive care in Europe. We had the opportunity to gain new experience and comparison of our knowledge and skills to the knowledge and skills of our Swedish colleagues.

The level of nursing care in Sweden is high - Swedish nurses have the capacity and conditions to ensure that the patient be able to comprehensively cultivate. In intensive care it is very important to realize how important the interdisciplinary approach to the patient with the appropriate amount of staff among others in the prevention of infections, for the safety of patients and their welfare and safety of personnel.

In Sweden, this consciousness exists. In addition, we had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people who served us help and tried to do everything that we benefited as much as possible during our stay in Karolinska Hospital and Danderyd Hospital.

Really enriching experience

Gemma Via from Spain 2014

To sum up, this was a really enriching experience, and that's why I encourage other colleagues to join the programme. It is the way to experience first hand that nursing care is not the only thing that makes a difference; it is also factors such as the organizational structure and inter-professional communication. Each team, in their context, has their strengths, threats, opportunities and weaknesses. 

Nowadays, in Spain, we are in a context of economic difficulties that undoubtedly would influence health outcomes, but we have a great innovation, creative potential and motivation to improve the processes of care to our patients.  The EfCCNa exchange programme is another opportunity to expand horizons.