Part 2: Swiss-British student exchange!


By Alexandra Ross & Shona Kohlhardt @shonakohlhardt

In Part 1 of this blog, we recounted the student experience from the 1st British-Swiss student exchange in the UK last October 2018. In Part 2, we take you to Bern. Enjoy!

Welcome to Bern 

Warmly welcomed by Chloé, we had arrived in Bern. With the stunning city landscape of the city by night, we gathered to watch the famous outdoor light show “Le Petit Prince”. A story that reminds us to always stay curious. After the show, we shared a drink with members from the Swiss and European Sports Medicine societies.

 Student’s Day

We joined 120 students at the third Students Day conference and were inspired by talks about exercise prescription, tendinopathy, team medicine and sport science theory. Speakers such as Tim Gabbett (Australian Sport Scientist) and Gil Rodas (Head of the FC Barça Innovation Hub, F.C Barcelona Doctor) shared their valued wisdom at both conferences.

After talking to speakers and students over croissants and coffee, we separated into practical sessions to explore sport psychology.  We learnt how aggression can be both an instrumental tool against opponents, or hold a positive advantage during a competitive moment. Then we had a hands-on session in manual medicine and ultrasound too.

The organisers made sure we felt healthy and really gave attention to detail; from water bottles at tables, large fruit bowls and fresh flowers around the room, to an active finish at Wankdorf athletics track for “Running Made Fun”.

Swiss Sports Medicine Conference Day 1

This year, the Swiss Sports Medicine Conference had three firsts; the first time annual Sportfisio and SGSM conferences joined together, the first time is was held in English and the first time English Students were invited to participate. We signed in among 800 professionals from around the world, excited to learn new advances in Sports Medicine from world-renowned speakers.

The main themes were ‘Hip and Groin’ and ‘Load and Recovery’. The first day covered acute:chronic load ratio, overuse injuries, FAI syndrome and groin pain presentation, management and prevention. Afterwards everyone enjoyed an Apéro and perused the posters. With a view of the city and the bears, which Bern is named after, we enjoyed dinner with the organisers, German Clénin, Boris Gojanovic and Justin Carrard, and the presenters. We ended a fantastic night puzzled by a Swiss-German quiz!

Day 2

The 5km run at 7am proved to be a great way to start the day. We watched the sun rise over the beautiful old town of Bern with the fellow conference attendees (who weren’t feeling too fragile after the previous night). Feeling refreshed, we learnt about FAI, osteoarthritis, biomechanics and neuromuscular components of injury and rehabilitation, the importance of sleep and recovery (a glass of chocolate milk or cherry juice can go a long way) and the uses of social media. During the breaks we enjoyed networking and trialing a variety of sports medicine equipment (the zero-gravity treadmill was one of our favourites).

Six things we learnt on Day 2: 

  • Exercise prescription (FITT VP principle) is more efficient provided as a written prescription
  • Sports Medicine, Science and Physiotherapy are all integral to each other
  • Athletes should look at their acute and chronic workloads to prevent injuries
  • Groin injuries should be identified and treated early
  • Small biomechanic variations can cause and treat pain
  • The Nocebo effect, can disadvantage patients if they expect pain

At the end of the experience, both of us left Switzerland, reminded of Le Petit Prince, more informed about Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) and with an admiration for how friendly and helpful our hosts had been. We are inspired by how Switzerland, a country without an individual Sport Medicine Specialty, organizes successful international conferences. We feel deeply grateful for this experience and look forward to applying our new knowledge and hope to one day work alongside those who inspire us.


Alex Ross is a final year medical student at the University of Nottingham. She has been on her university’s SEM society committee for two years and was president in her fourth year. She currently leads the interview segment of the BJSM “Inside Track”.

Shona Kohlhardt (@shonakohlhardt) is a final year Sheffield Medical Student, and the event organiser for Sheffield SEM society. She holds a First Class honours degree in Sport Science in Relation to Medicine, from the University of Leeds, where she researched the wear patterns in total hip replacements of golf players. On weekends she delivers prescribed exercise at her local pool, in a scheme she helped establish in 2014.


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