The ESRA Educational Grant - ESRA

ESRA Updates

March 2022 | Issue 08

The ESRA Educational Grant

José Aguirre (Balgrist University Hospital, Switzerland) @JAG_4773


The ESRA Educational Grant ( was introduced for ESRA Members to support of participation in a teaching program in an ESRA Approved Training Institution in Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine in Europe. The grant (max. 3’000€) encourages the participation in teaching programs (rotations) and/ or research of a duration of at least three months and is thought to cover travel costs and costs of living at the teaching site.

The applicants choose an ESRA Approved Training Center where they wish to do their extended training and after a positive contact a competitive application is sent to ESRA. The Grant Committee will select twice a year the best candidates based on a rating score and the ESRA Board will decide depending on the number and quality of the applications, how many Grants will be distributed.

The Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland was the first Hospital hosting ESRA Educational Grants in 2011 and has hosted since then 23 Grant winners and many trainees that did not receive the Grant but wanted to learn from us from all over the world. Time to ask some of the last Grant winners (Tea from Slovenia, Federica from Italy, Luisa from Portugal) and a colleague who did not received it but wanted to follow the steps of a colleague at her hospital (Laura from Portugal) some questions about their motivations, expectations, experiences and advises:


Why did you apply for this grant / what were your expectations.

  • The main reason seems to be the interest in discovering regional anaesthesia (RA) in a different setting and to experience working abroad.
  • The main expectations: are to further develop the one competences in RA skills in the area of Regional Anesthesia, focusing on the use of ultrasonography and neurostimulation.

How did you select your Training Center?

  • All Trainees stated, that the most important aspect was to look for a center with “hands on possibilities”
  • The high dedication to RA techniques as main anaesthesia technique and the specialization in orthopaedic surgery were also important aspects.
  • Apart from the information displayed on the hospital website, meeting the consultants at congresses and workshops and of course the experience of prior grant winners were the most important tools to select the Training Center.

What were you able to learn (in Regional Anesthesia)?

  • This is of course very dependent on the Training Center. Our trainees mostly report things like: a standardized way to perform different blocks, systematic pre-scanning and evaluation of the sono-anatomy, apply this knowledge to adapt different continuous RA techniques to the patient. The most important factor is, that trainees had the possibility to perform the blocks themselves under supervision of the same 2 senior consultants.

Laura enjoying the great team spirit with Choukri, one of our anaesthesia nurses

What were you able to learn additionally (sedation, other aspects of anesthesia)?

  • The Swiss way of running a RA-based anaesthesia as part of an efficient operation room management.
  • TCI-based general anaesthesia and conscious sedation techniques
  • We include in our program rotations to two other hospitals: Regional Hospital of Bellinzona (PD Dr. A. Saporito) and the Ophthalmology Clinic of the University Hospital in Bern (Dr. F. Lersch) with the aim to see further RA and sedation techniques but also to travel around the country and see more of Switzerland. This experience is most appreciated.

How was this experience on the personal level? Was it worth leaving home to see how others do?

  • The possibility to go abroad with the ESRA Educational Grant is considered an invaluable experience. It broadens your horizons, you learn new techniques but also how others solve the same problems you have at home just in another way. Knowing other enthusiasts in RA, different structures and a new culture is seen as an important experience during education.

What was the best thing / event / experience during your stay?

  • To work with inspiring, hardwork and highly skilled people with such different backgrounds from mine.
  • The personal touch of the team and of the responsible for the program (“…scientific and educational competence, highly contagious eagerness and unmatched good humour)
  • Knowing the Swiss culture, cheese and chocolate and the possibility to travel to and enjoy different places
  • The possibility to participate to scientific work and to write articles

Was it worth it? Why would you recommend it to your colleagues?

  • Definitely! I was one of the most enriching experiences of my residency.
  • The warmth, level of excellence and commitment I encountered played a major role in my motivation for continously practicing anesthesia to the highest standards.

From the perspective of the responsible for the program in our hospital my view is that the ESRA Educational Grant offers a great possibility to educate young colleagues, spread the knowledge of RA, learn from the trainees how things are done in other places and teach them to solve daily problems using the knowledge they have acquired. I consider it a privilege to teach and educate the next generation. You have to be an enthusiast, have a team who supports the spirit of teaching and you have to take your time to teach also during a busy program.

In this spirit, some of our ESRA Grant winners have taken advantage of visiting us spending additional time in research and in developing a professional career in Switzerland. Tea Osterc engaged herself in different case reports of which one was publish recently (see pictures). Barbara Rupnik was offered a consultant position in our hospital due to her performance after her stay and is now consultant in one of the biggest hospitals in Zurich. Additionally, she is engaged as workshop tutor and lecturer inside ESRA and is an EDRA examiner.

I can only recommend to all dedicated residents to compete for this Grant and take the opportunity to visit one of the ESRA Approved Training Institutions all over Europe. Not only you will make an unforgettable experience, you might also push your career to a higher level!

Topics: Educational Grant

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