Reem Awad Alharbi from Saudi Arabia is at specialist in colorectal surgery. Photo: Tonny Foghmar.

Reem Awad Alharbi from Saudi Arabia is at specialist in colorectal surgery. In the autumn 2020, she had the possibility to apply for a one-year fellowship at a leading colorectal surgery department in Europe – in London, Paris, Berlin… She chose Aarhus, and she has now been a fellow at Aarhus University Hospital for one year.

- Internationally, professionals know that Aarhus University Hospital is a highly-specialised hospital with a high international level. Only people from Aarhus are surprised about my choice, Reem says with a smile.

Reem Awad Alharbi is one of the few female colorectal surgeons in Saudi Arabia. She is finishing a one year expert training. and international certification in colorectal surgery. She is particularly interested in patients with complicated conditions in the pelvic floor.

Aarhus University Hospital has a Pelvic Floor Unit where colorectal surgeons collaborate with gyneacologists, urology surgeons and peadiatricians as well as specialised nurses performing tasks that are assigned to doctors in most other parts of the world.    

- These patients have many symptoms and complaints, and we have only one center to refer them. Many of them are treated abroad. I have learned a lot from the way the Pelvic Floor Unit is organised and the high professional level. This is an example for me to bring home and my colleagues are very interested to hear more about it, says Reem Awad Alharbi.

During her fellowship at Aarhus University Hospital, Reem Awad Alharbi has participated in many advanced  procedures among these learned two new treatments developed in Aarhus and she will bring her new skills back to Saudi Arabia. One of them is treatment of complicated fistulas in patients with Crohn’s Disease using the patients’ own fat tissue. The other is the so-called transanal irrigation technique, which is a method where patients with constipation or fecal incontinence can learn how to empty their bowels.

- Everybody is very friendly, and they love to share their knowledge and discuss the complicated conditions of their patients. I am impressed that research is done in collaboration with other specialty, keeping open discussion and sharing the research ideas helps the collaboration to run smoothly. People are interested in relations, and I hope we can continue to do research together, says Reem Awad Alharbi.

She speaks highly of Aarhus University Hospital. She comes from a large, modern hospital in the capital Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, she finds the unique buildings at Aarhus University Hospital have good space, a lot of light and the operating theatres have a high standard. She emphasizes the staff coffee break rooms, and she finds it positive that doctors, nurses, and other staff groups have breaks together. And she is excited about the city of Aarhus.

- I like the city and the surroundings. People are friendly and helpful, and it is a safe place to stay. Aarhus has a large international student environment and Denmark is one of the few places in Europe where many speak proper English.

- And the weather. When you are used to 50 degrees, the climate in Denmark is actually quite nice.