Universiteit Leiden

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Innovative education in Medicine

Putting our interns to work’ is the third-year slogan for the Master’s Programme in Medicine at Leiden University. After their regular residency periods, students are encouraged to find an internship in demanding sectors where they would like to work after completing their studies. In the MasterMindsChallenge, students quickly come up with solutions for a current health-related problem in the Leiden programme and education region. This is part 4 of a series of articles about lecturers on innovation in education.

Interns at work

Traditionally, students in the third year of the master’s programme do an internship at a hospital or in general practice. However, in extramural healthcare in particular (geriatrics, social medicine) there are many jobs on offer. ‘Many students arrive with the vision of becoming a paediatrician or trauma surgeon, but the demand isn’t that high,’ says programme coordinator Arnout Jan de Beaufort.

Cold feet

De Beaufort still sees a lot of ‘fear of the unknown’, which makes change difficult. ‘Choosing the beaten track is always the easy way.’ Information, mentoring and speed dating sessions with professionals allow students to explore the world behind intramural healthcare. Organisations such as the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment ('RIVM', Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu) and Child Protection Netherlands (Jeugdzorg Nederland) are almost always enthusiastic.’ When students say they find the organisation or work extremely interesting, the enthusiasm is mutual in nearly all cases.’


During a two-day ‘hackathon’ master’s students work in groups of six trying to find a solution for a current (health-related) problem. Students say they’ve never been challenged this way before. ‘They deal with problems in the same way that skilled professionals do. It makes a strong appeal to their intelligence and creativity: the final result must be a usable solution,’ explains Arnout Jan de Beaufort.

Helping hand

Students tried to find a solution for such issues as busy intensive care departments where nurses are required to perform double checks when administering medicine. This means that one person has to momentarily pause their own work in order to check their colleagues’ work. Students invented a mobile app with camera function, so that checks can be performed digitally and remotely. They also thought up a ‘Helping hand’, a colleague who has fewer tasks and who can easily check the dispensing of medicine in between their own responsibilities. ‘It’s just a small component of the programme, but it is a nice challenge, ’ says De Beaufort.


‘Treat students as skilled future colleagues; then they’ll soar.’

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