Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

The wish list for the future medical degree programme is long

Two heads are better than one. For this reason, among others, the medical degree programme’s employers, lecturers and the people that the whole thing is about – the students themselves – were invited to a workshop on 5-6 April 2017 to gather input for a vision for the medical degree programme at AU. This led to many interesting suggestions.

2017.04.20 | Mette Louise Ohana

Medical student and member of the board of studies Julius Edward Miller Hvidt was one of the participants at the workshop who could offer ideas seen from a student's perspective.

What type of medical doctor will we need in thirty years? How can the medical degree programme produce graduates with the right competences when we do not know what the future holds? But where technology, digitisation and data will be more central than today, and where the doctor's authority will decrease in step with the patient coming more into focus and demanding to be involved?

Around forty people attended the two days at the Sandbjerg Estate with the aim of coming up with a proposal. They were free to think in all directions, and with the workshop’s location deep in the southern Jutland countryside, there was not much chance of being distracted by anything else. This led to a high level of commitment and many different wishes.

See some of the suggestions made by the participants (video in Danish). 

Doctors without borders

The wishes for the future medical doctors varied widely and depended on whether they came from the position of employer or patient, or from a student, lecturer or course manager perspective – even before looking at whether they could be realised in practice.

But there were many common suggestions. The basic academic standards were emphasised repeatedly as a prerequisite for – and the foundation of – everything else, before getting on to any thoughts of interdisciplinary, understanding technology and innovation: Having basic knowledge of subjects such as e.g. anatomy and mastering basic clinical skills such as clinical assessment and being able to function as a medical doctor. To be able to understand the basis of research results, and to be able to critically relate to new knowledge. There were also skills that can never be replaced by technology, such as empathy, collaborative skills and the ability to create development, which are therefore competences that are important and require continued support.

Another discussion item was the importance of learning to think outside the box and rejecting the healthcare system’s silo mentality. This is already being done during the degree programme, when the medical students meet the other professions they must work together with after their studies. Patient cases which force interdisciplinary solutions were mentioned, as real people rarely fit into ready-made boxes. There was also a discussion about doctors having more far-reaching responsibilities which reach into the municipal administrations – among other things, to shed light on the increasing level of inequality among patients where treatment of a disease might not be the sole solution.

Three tons of brain mass available

Both students and employees called for more freedom of choice and flexibility so that the students can follow what motivates them. All while the studies administrators shook their heads. There was also a discussion about whether all graduates absolutely must be able to do the same, or whether there should be room to take slightly different paths through the degree programme.

The ability to wonder about things and to be able to initiate changes that improve the system were also mentioned by many of the participants as an important characteristic for the medical doctor of the future, because change in society and in the healthcare system is a fundamental condition, meaning it is necessary to constantly adapt and create the greatest possible value for the patients.

More specifically in an educational context, there was discussion of increased feedback, mentor schemes and patient focus throughout the degree programme. The types of exams were also discussed. Are we testing the students in what we think is most important? And should they have regular assignments during the semester, rather than cramming everything up to the exam?

After many hours of thinking about what the university can do for the students, there was also discussion of how the students can contribute the other way. Because according to Vice-dean for Education Charlotte Ringsted, the medical degree programme contains three tons of brain mass of the finest quality. Meaning it would be a shame not to make use of it. The answer was, among other things, more project work, more involvement in the research and teaching, and stronger affiliation between students and lecturers.

Ideas gathered together in a vision

With the many new perspectives and the knowledge that we do not really know the requirements that will arise for tomorrow's medical doctors, one might imagine that the risk of missing the mark was also high. Moreover, it was pointed out that medical doctors who studied medicine forty years ago, when many things looked different than today, can also function in clinical practice today. So it appears that some of the fundamental competences never become obsolete.

Over the next weeks, the many thoughts and ideas will be processed and gathered together in a vision and strategic basis for the medical degree programme. Before the summer holidays, the vision will be sent for consultation by the participants from the workshop, the academic council, the board of studies at medicine and the Management Forum for the University and the Region, among others. During the autumn, the vision will be compared to the existing medical degree programme, and a project group will prepare any proposed solutions.     


Vice-dean for Education Charlotte Ringsted
Health, Aarhus University
Mobile: (+45) 93 50 82 22
Email: charlotte.ringsted@au.dk



Education, Public/Media, Department of Clinical Medicine, Health, PhD students, Department of Biomedicine, Technical / administrative staff, Health, Academic staff