September 21, 2023

Clinical Clerkship in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at CHU de Caen Normandie, France

In July 2023, I had the honour of participating in a clinical clerkship in a French port city named Caen, courtesy of the esteemed International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) program. This month-long educational endeavour gave me the privilege of immersing myself in the cardiothoracic surgery at the CHU de Caen, Normandie. This educational experience has expanded my medical knowledge and skill set while also receiving a broader perspective on the intricacies of modern healthcare.

CHU de Caen, Normandie is one of the largest public health organisations in the Normandy region, France. The hospital, located on the Côte de Nacre street, is a 23-story monoblock tower built by Henry Bernard in the 1970s and started operating in 1975 in response to a lack of patient accommodation at other hospitals in the city of Caen. It is a referral hospital and the centre for teaching, innovation, and research, CHU de Caen is responsible for serving the 3 million people in the region. As a teaching hospital, CHU de Caen accommodates 4,135 prospective doctors, nurses, and caregivers from Université de Caen Normandie. The hospital is also a training centre for emergency care.

In France, as in many parts of the world, coronary heart disease (CHD) has consistently maintained its standing as a leading cause of mortality. In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that CHD ranked as the primary cause of death for males and the second most prevalent cause of death for females. Alarming statistics have revealed that, at present, one individual falls to a cardiovascular event every four seconds. Perhaps even more concerning is the observation that these cardiovascular events are increasingly affecting the younger demographic, as reported by Fondation de France in 2021. These statistics have propelled the field of cardiothoracic surgery to the front line of healthcare in France. Due to the high prevalence of CHD, the predominant surgical procedure that filled the operating rooms throughout the month of July was the Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG). Additionally, several patients underwent heart valve replacement surgeries or the Bentall procedure, all of which represented the complexity of cardiothoracic surgery. These surgical interventions represented the cutting edge of cardiothoracic surgery, demonstrating the hospital’s commitment to provide its patients the highest standard of care.

Beyond the operating rooms, the educational component of my clerkship was equally enlightening. One memorable highlight was a comprehensive lecture delivered by one of the esteemed doctors on Acute Aortic Dissection (ADD) and other related diseases. This lecture deepened my understanding of these critical conditions and served as a testament to the hospital’s dedication to knowledge dissemination and continuous medical education.

In conclusion, the month-long clinical clerkship at CHU de Caen stands as a defining moment in my medical journey. The experience not only offered a glimpse of cardiothoracic surgery but also provided a profound understanding of the challenges posed by cardiovascular diseases in society. I am immensely grateful for the privilege of learning medicine in the heart of Normandy, France.

Reference: (n.d.). France data | World Health Organization. [online] Available at:

Fondation de France. (2021). Cardiovascular Disease. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Sep. 2023].

Article Arranged by : Faiza Khansa Tsabita Zulkarnaen (FK UNAIR, 012011133064)