Future health leaders

by @NTNUhealth 29 August 2014

Stig Arild SlørdahlBlogger: Stig A. Slørdahl
Dean at The Faculty og Medicine, NTNU


Last week, the four medical faculties organised a leadership summer school. This was a pilot project to explore whether it can work as a supplement to the teaching we provide for all our students. It was also an experiment to determine the content of a possible summer school.

The summer school took place at the Inter University Centre (IUC) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. The IUC is an international study centre, and an independent institution with 167 member universities in 46 countries. All the Norwegian universities with medical faculties are members.

IUC has the facilities to organise international conferences, but also to organise smaller events like our summer school. It can also provide accommodation for 56 people, and additional rooms can be rented in the nearby monastery. Several Norwegian professors from the universities in Oslo and Bergen hold leading positions in the organisation.

I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in the last part of the summer school, as a representative for the Deans at the four medical faculties. It was very useful to meet the students and lecturers to help me form an opinion on whether we should continue developing this concept. This year, 18 medical students from Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø and Trondheim participated, and the lecturers came from all four faculties and health regions.

Professor Tor Ingebrigtsen, general manager at the University Hospital in Northern Norway / The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), was the course leader. The four faculties had developed the programme’s content together. Several teaching elements stemmed from the education given to top health care leaders. A significant part of the teaching was also based on relevant “cases” from the lecturers’ daily jobs.

The participating students were this autumn’s fifth and sixth year students, who during their studies have already had different leadership tasks in student organisations and as student representatives, among other things. Many of them also have an extensive academic background from previous studies and various stays abroad. I think many of them could already envision possible careers as health leaders.

The feedback from students and lecturers was very positive. Students and lecturers spending entire days together provides a fruitful learning environment, especially as the lecturers attend each other’s lectures to give comments and feedback.

It is also important to give leadership a bigger role in the education of future doctors, which is why the educational elements concerning leadership have increased in recent years. The University of Oslo has, among other things, developed the subject KLoK (Knowledge management, leadership and quality improvement) with the intention of letting the students acquire “knowledge, skills and competence in knowledge based practice, leadership and quality improvement, enabling you to exercise the medical profession in a professional way, as a specialist and as a participant in multidisciplinary groups and teams”.

I do not believe that there is an incompatibility between an increased emphasis on leadership in basic courses and a summer school for those who are particularly interested. The health services need to recruit a large number of leaders in the years to come, and to spark leadership interest, competence and perspective in the early stages of the education can prove to be important to make more doctors view leadership as an attractive and important career.

What remains is of course to evaluate whether this is a programme that should continue, and which changes it might benefit from. The first decision to be made is whether we should include students from other health related studies, and whether the programme should be made international.

I am looking forward to reading the evaluations and continuing the discussion about the continued existence of the summer school and possible changes to the programme. I am confident that we can develop the concept if all the faculties agree to pursue it. A positive side effect is that collective programmes like this promote closer relationships between students and employees across faculties. This results in useful contributions regarding how we conduct our basic educations.

This blog post was published in Norwegian at forskning.no 22.08.2014

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