Students were unexpectedly shocked by the news of the extraordinary spring break, even if it could be expected, including Barbara T. Bölcsföldi, who is a rotational year student and would have had her final exam in psychiatry immediately after the announcement. She was pleased to find that the university reacted extremely quickly to what had happened, and after a week with the reorganization of education, everything became operational. She also talked about the transition, the online implementation of the practices, and her exam experience.
Written by Rita Schweier
-How did your online final exam in psychiatry go?
-It went well, I was able to take the exam two weeks after the original date. We did not experience a big delay in education either, in most subjects the absence was a maximum of one or one and a half weeks, so I do not feel that I would have been disadvantaged in studying due to the introduction of distance education. Both the instructors and the students quickly adapted to the new situation. The online examination is also a particularly positive memory for me because the system worked well, the instructors were very helpful, although I was more excited than usual because I have never demonstrated my knowledge in this way before. The big advantage of the online examination is that students living further away do not have to travel to Pécs. It was more comfortable and faster from home.
-In the sixth year - according to the normal order of education - is there any theoretical education in addition to the practices?
-We are at practices throughout the year, which we can schedule ourselves, although during these, the instructors regularly give obligatory lectures at the clinics and the teaching hospitals. We have to complete the practices of the eight rotational year subjects, six of which end with an exam. Distance education obviously made this difficult, practice - in its original sense – has dropped out of our lives, but the instructors tried to replace practical and theoretical education on a high standard to the best of their ability, and they have also found a solution for the examination. From our sixth-year subjects, we also had practices in the fifth year.
As the state of emergency arose in the middle of March, most of the graduating class had only a few weeks, a maximum of 5-6 weeks of practice left from the sixth year. It is a great help for each class that there are many digital learning materials that are practice-oriented and focus on examinations and diagnoses. These can be studied over and over again; these are very useful recordings that can be used later in preparation for the practical exams. There is also an opportunity for volunteering, which can later be included in the completion of professional practices. As far as I know, many of my fellow students have volunteered in addition to their academic responsibilities, and that is very commendable.
Our instructors, as they do not have the opportunity to hold personal practices and seminars, put even more emphasis on what is really relevant in their videos and learning materials uploaded to digital platforms, making it easier for us to prepare for the exams. Another advantage of online education is that we have the opportunity to ask our instructors separately in certain subjects, and clinics and institutes provide dates for this. This both helps us and provides feedback to our instructors. The recently created, new PotePedia - which is a digital knowledge base with fresh, systematically uploaded learning materials - will also be useful in the future.
Even though the transition was not easy, and being at home is not easy either, as far as I can see we are all trying to get the most out of it. The students responsible for each class and the student council have also more tasks since the announcement of the transition. They also actively collect student questions and difficulties in all classes, mediate them unitedly to the university’s leadership, the course directors, and then they forward the answers and solutions to us. The coronavirus situation has generated a much greater cohesion between us; helping each other has become more pronounced than before.
-What is your next exam?
-The state examination will be my next test. The written exam will take place on 24 June, and the oral one is likely to take place between 2 and 8 June. We are constantly informed about this as well; we are even informed when they are currently working on an issue. The dean’s leadership, course directors, and instructors are also very helpful, and as a result, we, the students are more patient and understanding as well. It should also be appreciated that several solutions are found for each set of problems. We also get help to make up for and complete in some way our obligations, which are lagging behind.
-Do you keep in touch with students from other classes as well?
-Yes, I communicate regularly with quite a few of my fellow students. Most recently, I shared my experiences in connection with the online oral examination with them because the other classes have not gone through this yet. After the few days of transition, they also tried to complete everything in the semester according to the changes. Like me, they have a positive opinion of Teams and Zoom, both platforms are easy to use in terms of download and upload, and you can enjoy the lectures as well. Due to distance education, foreign students traveling home were also able to continue the semester. This special situation has also brought about a major change in attitude, problem solving and learning methodologies, and all of this can have many positive effects later. In a semester with a normal schedule, there would not have been an opportunity for such a degree of digital development.
-I guess you are looking forward to re-entering the door of the main building on Szigeti Street.
-I am really looking forward to it. I am sure that the time spent together within the walls of the university will be appreciated more and the experience of student cohesion will intensify. There is also no doubt that this period will remain a special memory for all classes, but especially for the graduates, as we say goodbye to the university years in a different way than our predecessors.