EFLM LabX report
By Judit Gonda, Hungary
I was honoured to take part in the EFLM LabX program and to have the opportunity to spend a month between mid-November and mid-December 2022 at the laboratory of Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, UCLouvain, in Brussels, Belgium (www.saintluc.be). Professor Damien Gruson, the Head of the Laboratory generously offered a visit to his laboratory to exchange knowledge in the field of cardiology and endocrinology.
I am a clinical laboratory pharmacist, working in the Medical Centre, Hungarian Defense Forces, Budapest, Hungary. The aim of my visit was to observe the daily routine work in Clinical chemistry and Immunochemistry and to observe the measurement and evaluation of cardiac biomarkers. Hopefully, in my workplace, I can use the good practice I have seen at Saint-Luc laboratory to enhance and provide the best possible care for patients with cardiovascular diseases, and to fulfil an unmet need in the hospital’s cardiovascular management. In Brussels, I have also experienced the future goal of medical labs. Saint-Luc laboratory also would like to implement green and sustainable practices and improve its sustainability performance: one step toward that is to cease performing radioimmunoassay tests and seek alternatives, such as ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) or automated immunoassays.
During my time at Saint-Luc, I was involved in several mini-scientific projects related to cardiology: I was allowed to perform the tests by myself and then helped my Belgian colleagues evaluate the results. I had daily meetings with Professor Gruson to talk about the projects and lab work: his attitude is exemplary both professionally and personally. I also had the opportunity to look at the daily work and practice of this ISO-accredited laboratory, and my colleagues showed me around each segment of the lab. The atmosphere at work was very friendly and inclusive, my colleagues were chatty and never refused to offer a helping hand. They made it easy to integrate into their team. I learned good working practices from them and Professor Gruson, especially their organizing of work, their precise and responsible working methods and I also got to know the huge range of tests they perform. I loved the multicultural team and it is not an overstatement that we had a happy family atmosphere with my colleagues there, we even rooted together for the teams of the Football World Cup 2022! Frankly, we had no language barriers, English was our main language, but I could also learn some French in Belgian dialect. There was also great communication and contact between clinicians and lab personnel: they value that the lab provides a safe and rapid-acting background for patient care and aids clinicians to make the best therapeutical decisions for patients in need.
Besides the work at Saint-Luc I also enjoyed professional events while there. Professor Gruson took me to the Annual Meeting of the Royal Belgian Society of Laboratory Medicine (www.rbslm.be) and to trainings and workshops relevant to me. I also participated in their regular journal club on endocrinology, something that I find useful to stay up to date with new trends in science.
The city of Brussels got me at first sight: walking at Grand Place, looking out to the capital of Europe from the sphere of the Atomium, staring at the Christmas tree in the inner city and eating waffles, fries and pralines in Christmas spirit was wonderful. There are plenty of green parks in Brussels to go for a run or just enjoy free time after work. Also, the Belgian towns are attractive: one month was not enough to experience even a bit of the country but I enjoyed visiting the lovely Brugge, the historic Ghent and the metropolitan Antwerp. Also, being on the seaside of the Northern Sea was beyond my imagination, even if the weather was bone-chilling there.
I absolutely enjoyed the LabX program in Brussels, which was generously supported by the EFLM LabX scholarship. I am thankful to EFLM and Saint-Luc laboratory for this memory of a lifetime! I encourage lab professionals to take the opportunity and visit other labs and learn from each other and experience different perspectives. Merci beaucoup au laboratoire des Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc!
Judit Gonda from Budapest, Hungary shared her EFLM LabX experience from the UCL Saint-Luc laboratory in Brussels, Belgium. During the winter of 2022, she spent one month at the laboratory headed by Prof. Damien Gruson. Her exchange program was supported by the EFLM LabX bursary, and the aim of the visit was to learn routine work in the laboratory as well as to collect notable knowledge about the measurement and evaluation of cardiac biomarkers from prof. Gruson and his colleagues.