Dr. Elisa Kaufmann

Last fall, a friend asked me to speak about Romania at an old people’s home near Zurich. She organised a Romanian afternoon there. I turned back many times in my thoughts to this event. We were four Romanian women with four different professional backgrounds. Each of us spoke about one aspect of our country: history, geography, traditions, cooking, mentality and current situation. Our audience seemed hard to bring to a common denominator: the patients were Swiss with an average of approximately 80 years of age, while the medical staff consisted in people from 16 countries with an average of 25 years. However, they listened, asked questions, laughed, made comments, enjoyed the traditional Romanian music (the song „Ciocarlia”, the singer Maria Tanase) and I think everybody left with a good feeling and a happy heart … During this afternoon I met Eliza Kaufmann. She lives - like I do - in the German speaking part of Switzerland since seven years: a pretty woman, full of energy who seems always ready to get involved in something. She has built a successful career, a rich and beautiful private life and for many Romanians living around, she represents a dynamic meeting point. „An interesting character, I should interview her”, I said to myself and did it.

Mrs. Kaufmann, you are psychiatrist and chief of section at the Psychiatric Clinic Königsfelden in the Canton of Aargau. Which were your professional steps during these seven years since you settled down in Switzerland?
The specialisation for psychiatry and psychotherapy in Switzerland takes six years. During this period one must work five years as a resident doctor in a psychiatric institution and one year in another medical speciality, at one’s choice. I started in a otorhinolaryngology section as „guest doctor“. The salary at that time was rather small but it was my chance to start working as a doctor. Than I worked in a clinic for cardiology and psychosomatic rehabilitation. As a psychiatrist I worked for more than two years in a clinic in the Canton Zurich and the same period in another clinic in the Canton Aargau where I treated patients in an ambulatory system. Since February 2003 I am managing an acute psycho-geriatric section with 22 beds treating maniac-depressive illnesses, schizophrenia, alcoholism and addiction to medicine at the Clinic Königsfelden in Canton Aargau. Besides, I oversee two more sections with chronic patients who cannot be placed in other institutions due to the gravity of their illness. Under my direction I have two resident doctors whom I instruct and support in their professional education, as well as a social assistant who is dealing with the social and financial problems of the patients.

How does one become a specialist in psychiatry?
To obtain this title one must meet a series of criteria. First, one must attend 300 hours of psychiatry courses in different specialised institutions. Another requirement is to complete ten psychiatric expertises for incapacity or criminal acts as theft, murder or rape. Parallel with this daily work one must also attend a three years course in psychotherapy organised in the evening or during the weekend. I graduated in 2002 in a course of cognitive and behaviour psychotherapy Zurich, under the direction of Prof. K. Grawe, who is very well known in the German speaking area of Europe. During this course I treated patients combining theory and practice. When I had more complicated cases I could benefit from the supervision of experienced psychotherapists. I also learned and practiced methods to deal with critical situations.

Such as?
How do you behave when a patient is falling in love with you or is making sexual proposals, how do you manage to treat your patients when you face own crisis periods (for instance your mother or child are sick), how do you behave when you receive presents. Of course, in Romania receiving presents as a doctor would not be a problem, but here it can be.

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