Stéphane Morandi tells us about his year abroad at Oxford.
Why did you decide to go abroad?
With Switzerland poised to introduce involuntary outpatient psychiatric treatment, I wanted to spend my year abroad in a country that had experience in this area, namely the UK. I met with Prof. Burns, an authority in the field and chair of social psychiatry at Oxford, during one of his visits to the University of Zurich in 2011. We reached an agreement, and I was to join his research team the following year. The Vaud Public Health Service was very interested in my project and supported me financially, as did the CHUV.
What were your impressions upon arriving at Oxford?
The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford is made up essentially of researchers. Unlike in Switzerland, there aren’t many people who combine research with clinical work. I also noticed that, despite the financial crisis, the UK continues to invest heavily in research in order to maintain its international stature. But once you become integrated, you can get in touch with the leaders of other projects. I also received lots of support from my superiors in Lausanne, who helped me prepare for my return and the next stage of my career.
It sounds like you had a positive experience.
Definitely. I was able to work with world-renowned professionals in my field and publish several articles. Living outside of Switzerland allows you to broaden your outlook. For instance, I took advantage of my time abroad to contact the public health offices in every Swiss canton to learn about local practices regarding involuntary psychiatric treatment. I wouldn’t have been able to do so if I had to manage the service at the hospital and tend to my usual patients. As for my family, it was a wonderful experience. My kids, 4 and 7 years old, didn’t speak one word of English before we left. Now they’re fluent. My wife also took classes that the university offered to researchers’ spouses. There was something in it for everyone!
With the CHUV since:
Associate physician, Community Psychiatry Service