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Ukrainian Healthcare Professionals Undergo Training at Karolinska for Two Months

Health Professions Education
Three consultants and one nurse from a children's hospital in Kyiv are now at Karolinska University Hospital. Over a period of two months, they will receive further training in pediatric gastroenterology, neonatal care, and intensive care.
Kateryna Haievska, GI Endoscopist, Anna Machuzhak, Pediatric Anesthesiologist, Snizhana Babiichuk, Neonatologist, Olena Vasylets, Nurse. Photo: Kristian Brangenfeldt.

The healthcare staff arrived in Sweden on March 24th to spend two months enhancing their skills at Karolinska University Hospital. This opportunity arises from the collaboration between Karolinska and their home institution, the Ohmatdyt National Specialized Children’s Hospital in Kyiv.

"I collaborated with my Ukrainian colleague, Volodymyr Zhovnyr, to determine how we could best assist them. They were interested in a professional exchange and expanding their network," says Svante Norgren, Senior Consultant and Theme Manager at Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital at Karolinska.

Volodymyr Zhovnyr identified 15 areas within the Ukrainian children's hospital that they wanted to further develop in partnership with Karolinska. For each area, a responsible specialist was appointed at each hospital, jointly overseeing clinical conferences, second opinions, and networking.

"In addition to this, we selected four fellowships in gastroenterology, neonatology, and intensive care. Three consultants and one nurse have been here for a month and will stay for another month," adds Norgren.

Practical Content in the Training

The training curriculum has been developed by responsible specialists from Ukraine and Sweden.

"We have crafted a training plan outlining what they will practice during their time here. They were able to express their own preferences for areas they wish to further develop, and we have also added some additional focus areas, such as pediatric ethics and children's rights," says Norgren.

He emphasizes that the curriculum primarily focuses on practical content, including various procedures in endoscopy and how to care for different patient groups.

Broad Engagement Among Staff

Norgren emphasizes that all staff members have been highly committed to assisting and supporting their Ukrainian colleagues in the best possible way.

"The entire Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital has a broad international commitment and network in pediatric healthcare and children's rights. This enhances our hospital in several ways, both medically and in terms of values," says Norgren, continuing:

"Our collaboration with the children's hospital in Kyiv has fostered close personal connections between us, building the partnership. They are incredible colleagues and friends, and I am impressed by their expertise, courage, and ability to plan for both the short and long term."

Meet two of the Ukrainian doctors

What is your professional role at your hospital?

"My name is Anna Machuzhak, and I am an anesthesiologist in the pediatric intensive care unit. I serve as a consultant, coordinate the department's work, and treat patients in extremely serious conditions. Additionally, I am responsible for international relations within the department. I participate in international conferences and scientific research, and I assist in conducting training sessions for doctors from all over Ukraine."

How does it feel to be a part of this exchange program?

"It is a great honor for me to undertake an internship at the ECMO Department here at Karolinska. This opportunity allows me to acquire new knowledge and experience, which is invaluable, especially since the most critically ill children from all over Ukraine receive care in the PICU."

What do you hope the outcome of this exchange will be?

"I hope to gain knowledge. Specifically, here, for children with septic shock, one of the initial treatment stages is plasmapheresis. I definitely want to introduce this procedure here as well."

What are you most interested in learning more about?

"Beyond medical work, I am very interested in management and organizational aspects. I'm curious about the experience with the national health service, and staffing is an important focus for me."

What are your thoughts on Sweden as a country? Were there any surprises?

"I find Sweden fascinating due to its beauty and its people. The support has been extraordinary. I have full access to the treatment process and the opportunity to be present during the organizational aspects, for which I am very grateful."

•  •  •

What is your professional role at your hospital?

"My name is Kateryna Haievska. I am a gastrointestinal endoscopist at the National Specialized Children’s Hospital 'OHMATDYT' in Kyiv, Ukraine. I completed my studies in January 2022, and a month later, the war began."

How does it feel to participate in this exchange program?

"I am currently in the fourth week of our fellowship program at Karolinska University Hospital. Being away from home is challenging. I want to stay in constant contact with my family, especially during moments when an air raid siren sounds in Kyiv. The clinic staff have been very caring and welcoming towards us. We feel supported. Everyone is eager to share their knowledge and experience. It was particularly emotional to see Ukrainian patients who have been displaced since the beginning of the war."

What do you hope the outcome of this exchange will be?

"The main difference I've observed here is that your pediatric gastroenterologists and pediatric surgeons perform endoscopies. This integrated approach is commendable, allowing the same doctor to conduct the procedure and subsequently treat and monitor the patient. Additionally, each day I discover new and interesting practices that I plan to document and later present at my hospital for implementation."

What are you most interested in learning more about?

"I am particularly interested in learning about the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases in pediatric patients."

What are your impressions of Sweden so far? Any surprises?

"Sweden is a remarkably beautiful country, and this is my first time visiting. I've only explored Stockholm thus far. The climate here is a bit harsher than in Kyiv, so I'm learning to appreciate April snow. Swedes are very friendly people. I've noticed that family plays a significant role in Swedish culture, with parents actively involved in their children’s lives, which I really appreciate."

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