2 February 2024
As we reported earlier, the PotePath educational development reform at the Medical School in Pécs has been developed to help students prepare for their studies from the spring semester of this academic year and to support their orientation within the medical profession effectively. The essence of the new system is that the elective and optional subjects have been classified into four categories: manual, conservative, research, and general medicine, thus facilitating students’ choices and providing guidelines for managing their studies. We asked Dr. László Czopf, Vice-Dean for Education, about the details of the reform.
Written by Rita Schweier
“We must constantly improve education because there is no finished system. It is also related to the fact that new students arrive every year with new needs, and new trends also appear at the international level that are important to pay attention to. We have also been confronted with the fact that it is difficult for students to choose from the elective and optional subjects in the general medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy programs,” said the Vice-Dean for Education.
He said that they oriented students by indicating the semester when the subjects are recommended and the prior education level required to take up the subject so far. The course director could also specify the prerequisite subjects of the given elective or optional subject up to a maximum of three. Apart from this, students had to choose their elective and optional subjects from a 900-page document. The Medical School has been supporting them in their decisions with recommendations for a year or two, noting in the curriculum which elective and optional subjects are mainly suitable for a given semester, but these are only subtle indications, avoiding any constraints or dissonance that might occur in the system.
“Students’ awareness, interests, and personal career plans vary greatly. There are some who try things out and only decide towards the end of their training, some whose decisions are made by their parents or future employers, and some who know from the first year which specialty they will choose after university. PotePath helps mainly for the latter by grouping the elective and optional subjects: conservative medicine, manual medicine, research, and general medicine subjects, providing a more targeted orientation than before. This conceptual organization may also be useful for those who are uncertain about their decision but would like to embark on a path they think is right for them as a test of how successful they will be,” said Dr. László Czopf.
He says the system mainly targets the pre-clinical and clinical modules because students’ interests become more apparent at that stage. At the same time, the leadership of the School also found it essential that there should be elements that are “output-focused” from the very beginning of the training, making it evident that this is medical training. They also considered it essential that students should not lose interest in the helping aspect of the medical profession while learning many theoretical subjects.
The Vice-Dean emphasized that the modules are interchangeable and that it can be beneficial if the student chooses from several groups. For example, students preparing for a research career may also need manual skills because they will operate on animals in experiments. As he said, the teachers of compulsory subjects can help a lot in choosing elective and optional subjects because they know the performance and interests of the students, but also the supervisors in the Undergraduate Research Society and the Circle of Demonstrators, as well as the various student organizations: the PTE Surgical Society or the Pécs Emergency Society, can give support.
“Since the establishment of credit-based education, the challenge for all medical schools has been ensuring that students can choose from the range of elective and optional subjects effectively that supports their training. The strategy to facilitate the process and help them orient themselves is different everywhere. In Germany, for example, the University of Jena has grouped all optional subjects into three categories. Their system is more rigid; students have to stick to what they have chosen, whereas participation is optional here. At the end of their training, everyone receives a degree in general medicine, whether they have based their timetable on PotePath or had a traditional one; we want to help them find their way around and make their decisions easier. A student who starts out as a medical scientist can become a medical doctor if they change their mind, and the same is true for those who move from the clinical to the theoretical field,” added the Vice-Dean for Education, who also said that students will have the opportunity to overachieve the PotePath system and will not be required to pay any fees beyond their tuition.
Specialization in the PotePath system will result in receiving a certificate, which can be an advantage for students when looking for a job at the Medical School or the Clinical Center, and presumably elsewhere too, because it proves that the student has consciously prepared for their career and acquired skills others may not have. Dr. László Czopf emphasized that the use of the document titled “Booklet for Clinical Skills” can also help in this respect, the use of which can also contribute to the acquisition of additional, optional, extra skills, indicating a particular motivation towards a specific field.
“PotePath is a service to help our students become more motivated and achieve their goals. We do not want to burden them with extra tasks, constraints, or agonizing uncertainty, but on the contrary, we want to help them, which is why we have given them the freedom to choose. We want our students to happily use it to improve their training,” concludes the Vice-Dean of Education.