One of my good tutors at the faculty of medicine, professor emeritus Øivind Larsen, once taught me that research is “5% inspiration and 95% perspiration”. After many years as a university researcher, I agree with that. It takes a lot of effort to pursue and realize a good idea.
Inspiration alone is not enough
However, the division between inspiration and transpiration can be transferred to studying at our faculty: It takes a lot of effort from students to complete the type of education they are inspired and motivated to study. No matter what type of study you have chosen, some topics are more exciting than others. Some learning simply becomes a matter of duty — albeit at the usual high tempo.
A flexible curriculum
The various study curriculums have different types of flexibility. Our Master’s students have the opportunity to choose elective topics from all types of studies and faculties. To some extent, this makes it possible to create a combination of subjects that is tailored to one’s own interests. At the same time, it provides the opportunity for interdisciplinary meetings and cooperation with students from other types of studies.
More freedom of choice in the study of medicine
Until now, professional studies in medicine haven’t had this level of flexibility. In the Oslo 2014 curriculum, we have taken a small step towards more freedom of choice: During the third year of study, two classes of students can choose between six methodological topics and 12 thematic topics. Methodological topics provide an introduction to research methods that students can use in their project assignment, while thematic topics offer the opportunity for students to immerse themselves in disciplines that we cannot delve into during normal teaching.
A fight for places in popular topics
Some topics are more popular than others. That means that although students will be able to study one of their six prioritized topics, many don't receive their first choice because of the limited number of places. However, we hope that the elective topics provide the experience of having the opportunity to study an area of interest. Seeing as two classes are placed together, students are able to get to know new fellow students. It is also possible for students of medicine to study some of these elective topics at Master's level. This provides an increased benefit in the form of interdisciplinary cooperation that is useful for all students at our faculty.
Thanks to the tutors and those planning timetables
However, elective topics also require inspiration and perspiration from our employees. I wish to say a big thank you to all the tutors who have created new topics and who invite students into the laboratories and on excursions. We receive a lot of positive feedback from the students. Thank you also to those who devise practical timetables. Freedom of choice requires new ways of organizing studies.
Elective practice placement period at the end of module 8
We are now planning even more freedom of choice – in line with Oslo 2014. For the first time, we will be conducting an elective practice placement period for students of medicine during the last semester of study in January 2020 (end of module 8). For four weeks, students will be able to gain experience in a practice placement within a medical discipline they have particular interest in.
Presently, we are securing practice placements at university hospitals and local hospitals in the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority. We are looking far and wide and hope that students get the opportunity to experience daily operations at departments where previously, they have only visited for short periods in small groups. We are also trying to find places in primary healthcare services – and within various institutions/organizations where doctors work.
Practice placement students are your future colleagues
Elective practice placement periods will become a new round of inspiration and perspiration. Finding practice placements is demanding, and the places of practice will have to work hard regarding the follow up of students. Nevertheless, we hope there will be more inspiration – for both students and the place of practice. A few months after the practice placement period is complete, our students are ready for working life with their brand new authorization. A good practice placement period will make them feel more secure during the start of their new career.
One of our practice placement supervisors said he would like to present the student not as a “student” but as his “future colleague” to patients and staff at the hospital. That is inspiring!