Learning by Contributing to Patient Care - Envisioning a New Role for Students

Including a Symposium on Student Engagement during the COVID 19 Pandemic

Learning in practical settings is essential for all students in health professions. By participating in direct patient care, medical students gain practical knowledge, clinical skills and a professional identity. However, time and space for educating students are limited. Clinical clerkships are important experiences, but students are often assigned to routine jobs without having their actions adequately supervised and without relevant learning support. Thus, it is not surprising that at the start of their time as junior doctors or health care professionals many feel stressed and inadequately prepared.

The COVID 19 pandemic has pointed out this problematic development. No scheduled clerkships were possible; yet, there was a high need for more helpers to cope with the challenges of the pandemic. In many institutions, there was an interesting transition in the role of students from learners to individuals who were relevant and useful additions to the healthcare system. In fact, in some ways students served to bridge the gap between patients and professional care.

This focus on synergizing medical training and patient care has emerged in a growing number of educational projects. These reports have highlighted the meaningful role that students can play in health care. At this conference, we will explore the various ways students can contribute as autonomous members of the heath care team with substantive and important roles. Our goal is to discuss existing models, approaches and requirements, and consider best practices to advance both education and patient care.

The conference is being convened by the Integrated Curriculum for Anthroposophic Medicine at Witten Herdecke University, an innovative educational program for Integrative Medicine and Health. More supporting and cooperating partners are listed below.