Do private universities offer internships according to MBBS

Controversial digital degree : Become a doctor online

Studying medicine is a dream for many. But in Germany the application criteria at the state universities are tough.

For years, German high school graduates have been drawn to study medicine abroad: Private universities in Poland, Hungary and Romania offer medical courses for high fees that are specially tailored to German students who want to return to their home country later. There is now an additional alternative for those who cannot find a place to study in Germany: the private university EDU, based in Malta, is offering the first digital medical degree.

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The special thing about it: The students attend all theoretical courses such as lectures and seminars online. You do not have to be in Malta or in the same place as your fellow students for the courses. They complete the practical part of their studies at teaching hospitals in Germany, including the Helios clinics in Berlin.

“There has never been a university like ours,” says Jürgen Laartz. He is one of the founders of Digital Education Holdings, the company behind EDU. For years he has been dealing with the possibilities of digital learning. Together with Andreas Hoeft, the director of the Clinic for Anaesthesiology and Operative Intensive Care Medicine at the University Hospital Bonn, Laartz developed the digital medicine course.

A good 40 students are enrolled at the EDU University

A three-year Bachelor and a two-year Master of Medicine have now been state-accredited in Malta at the university they founded, which together lead to a license to practice medicine. "Malta was the first member of the European Union to transpose an EU directive into national law that makes purely digital institutions for higher education possible," says Laartz. "That's why we are based there."

The first eight Bachelor students began their studies in November 2018. A good 40 students are now enrolled in the medical course, and up to 200 students are expected to be admitted in 2020. The course is not cheap: the students have to pay almost 20,000 euros per year. “Together with our students, we are looking for financing options,” says Laartz. Student loans are offered for this, as are some scholarships.

When applying, the high school graduation mark does not play a role

The Abitur grade does not play a role in admission. Instead, applicants have to prove themselves in an online test and a video conference interview. Your English skills will also be tested. Because most of the courses are held in English. Previous medical experience can also be helpful in making the selection, for example as a nurse or paramedic. Those interested can currently apply to start their studies in mid-February 2020.

In fact, many EDU students have practical medical experience. Like Daniel. In Germany he waited in vain for a place to study medicine, in the meantime he was training to be a paramedic. With his studies he would like to realize his dream of becoming a doctor. “Right from the start, I was impressed by the degree to which theory is closely linked to practice,” says Daniel.

8 weeks of digital courses, 4 weeks of practice in the teaching hospital

The academic year is divided into trimesters, with students attending the digital courses for eight weeks in each trimester. This is followed by four weeks of practical experience in German teaching hospitals. "The direct practical relevance makes it much easier to learn dry things like biochemistry," says Daniel.

The close connection between theory and practice also convinced the Helios Group. “Having students on ward with us for several weeks at a time is very appealing to us,” says Zineb Nouns. She heads the personnel development and talent management department at the German Helios clinics.

In this way, students could also be introduced to everyday hospital life outside of university operations at an early stage. Nouns also hopes to be able to attract potential employees.

However, it is not certain whether graduates with a medical degree from EDU will actually receive the license to practice medicine in Germany. Such recognitions are always individual decisions.

Medical Association and Faculty Conference view the course with "skepticism"

The German Medical Association and the Medical Faculty Day warned of this uncertainty in a statement on the start of studies a good year ago. The degree program is viewed with “skepticism”: “Young people who want to study can only be urgently recommended to carefully examine this course offer for its sustainability and, above all, for the possibility of achieving the desired goal of being a doctor”.

Laartz, on the other hand, is convinced that his concept will prevail. “The study of human medicine on a bachelor's and master's basis has long been the international standard. The EU member state Malta has licensed our courses. "He is therefore" very confident "that the equivalence of the course will be certified within the framework of the rules of the European Union for professional recognition. The study model can also be found in the draft bill for the new license to practice medicine.

The German Medical Association and the Faculty Conference also criticized the structure and content of the medical degree program: “So far, it remains open, as well as sufficient communication of the required academic knowledge, skills in medical communication, interprofessional teamwork, scientific practice and outpatient care should be ensured. "

Laartz contradicts this. “In our curriculum, we have based our curriculum heavily on the German, Dutch, Swiss and English catalogs of learning objectives.” They work together with the universities of Bern and Maastricht on quality assurance, and the quality is accordingly high. This has been confirmed by the accreditation process.

When communicating the learning objectives, EDU attaches particular importance to problem-oriented and collaborative learning, says Laartz. This is made possible by the personal atmosphere and small group size. Attendance is compulsory in the online events, the number of participants is limited. Six students take part in the seminars and around 20 in the lectures. The students have to work on patient cases independently in the virtual classroom and present them later in the seminar.

Only see fellow students via video chat? Unfamiliar at the beginning

Daniel is satisfied with his studies. To see his fellow students and lecturers only via video chat is a bit strange at first, but that changes quickly. He doesn't miss spending free time together with his fellow students. The most important thing for him is studying, and that also applies to the other students. "You can tell that everyone is one hundred percent on the job."

That was also evident during his first internship at the Helios Clinic in Erfurt. "When we did our anesthesia internship, there were also students from German medical courses there," he says. “And my fellow students and I noticed that we were in no way inferior to them.” This is confirmed by Zineb Nouns: “We are very satisfied with the EDU students.” Helios also appreciates that the doctors after the internship of the EDU students Could give feedback that will be taken into account directly by the university for the next study cohort.

In the future, the practical phases should not be limited to Germany; the course should be available worldwide. Laartz and his staff plan to include teaching hospitals in other countries in the course. First in Europe - but as soon as possible in Africa too.

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