Report on the Trauma Course in Alpbach

Each year, the Austrian town Alpbach becomes venue of a trauma course organized by the OTC chapter AIOD Germany. The course targets young surgeons from Germany, Austria and Switzerland and teaches them trauma surgery techniques in theory as well as in practice. This year, from May 14th to 18th, 80 participants and 43 faculties took part.

Education and social exchange

The participants went through a tight schedule during the week of the course in May. Presentations by renowned experts, case studies, seminars and workshops were part of the program. «The best part of courses like this is that you meet young doctors from other hospitals whom you can exchange experiences with,» says Steffi Michaelis, third year assistant physician at the Asklepios Orthopedic Clinic in Lindenlohe, Germany. Like many other participants and faculties, she values the social exchange just as much as the educational part of the course. That is also a reason why on Thursday morning, the morning after the ‘social evening’, some people need one or two more cups of coffee than usual.


Positive feedback

However, the focus of an OTC course obviously still lies on education. Prof. Dr. Christian Hierholzer has been an AIOD member for 14 years and has been co-organizing the Alpbach trauma course since its beginning in 2013. As scientific head of the course, he is in charge of the program and the faculties, while giving many presentations himself. On the second last day of the course, Hierholzer can already draw a positive conclusion: «All feedback we got so far was very good, concerning both the quality of the course content as well as the faculties, who are said to be very approachable.» Many participants also value the fact that during seminars, the groups are divided into several smaller groups, which makes working on the objects easier and more interesting.


Theory and practice

The content of the trauma course was divided into the five topics lower leg, thigh, shoulder and upper arm, hand and forearm, child trauma care. In each part, different faculties held presentations in the morning and the participants could then work with their own hands during the afternoon. This included case discussions, practicing correct examination methods, treating fake broken bones by exercising plate osteosynthesis and other techniques or practicing arthroscopy in a fake knee joint.

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One of the participants, Michel Teuben, came all the way from Zurich. He is a third year assistant physician at the trauma department of the University Hospital Zurich. The 31 year old doctor is originally from the Netherlands, has worked in Germany for a few years and in Switzerland ever since. He was actually looking for a course in spinal surgery, when he found the AIOD trauma course that specializes on extremities and is organized by Prof. Dr. Hierholzer whom he already knew. That is when he applied for a scholarship by the AIOD and, a few weeks later, got a positive response. Michel Teuben is very happy about the opportunity of AIOD scholarships and being able to participate in the course: «What I like most about the Alpbach trauma course is that unlike others, this course lasts a whole week. Therefore, the content is much more detailed. Most of the things I learn here, I will actually be able to use in my daily work at the hospital.»