gms | German Medical Science

The structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?
International Conference hosted by the German Rectors' Conference (HRK)

10 - 11 October 2008, Berlin

TransMed national students exchange programme

Extended Abstract

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  • Laura Tanca - University of Medicine and Pharmacy 'Iuliu Hatieganu', Standing Committee on Medical Education - IFMSA Romania, National Project Coordinators 2005/2006 and 2006/2007, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Madalin Barac - University of Medicine and Pharmacy 'Iuliu Hatieganu', Standing Committee on Medical Education - IFMSA Romania, National Project Coordinators 2005/2006 and 2006/2007, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The Structure of Medical Education in Europe: Implementing Bologna – On the way to a European success story?. International Conference hosted by the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). Berlin, 10.-11.10.2008. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc08hrk17

DOI: 10.3205/08hrk17, URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-08hrk175

Published: January 13, 2011

© 2011 Tanca et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/deed.en). You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


Outline

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Abstract: TransMed is a national exchange programme, conceived by and for medical students, representing an official IFMSA-Romania project. A local committee created it in 2000 aiming to offer an opportunity to medical students to find information about the ways to study medicine in other faculties in Romania. It is now involving 10 medical universities throughout Romania and has also a partnership with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Chisinau (Republic of Moldavia). Being a medical education programme, it cannot develop without agreement and partnership of the medical universities in which the student organizations are established.

The programme consists out of a two weeks exchange between 10 medical universities. Incoming students attend the same disciplines as in their home university but with the beneficial opportunity to explore and experience at the same time local student life and local social, cultural, and touristic values as well. Each exchange includes a fixed number of students, selected on specific criteria. The rotation periods are decided at a national level during the annual General Assembly in dependence on each centre’s school schedule and resources.

The purpose of the TransMed-project is to improve communication between medical students all around the country, aiming to contribute to the development of a unitary medical student’s community in Romania. It also aims to contribute to the professional development of the student, as it offers the opportunity to work in a different environment, to exchange experiences, to compare and to gain valuable information about the differences between teaching systems and techniques all around the country. At the same time, students are offered the possibility to gain a full image of the local on-campus environment, of the local cultural, social points of interest.

Introduction: TransMed is an official project of IFMSA-Romania (International Federation of Medical Students Association) which aims on to offer the opportunity to medical students to study in other faculties in Romania. A local committee started the project in 2000 and since then it grew up very fast. It is now involving 10 Medical Universities in Romania: Bucharest, Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanta, Craiova, Iasi, Oradea, Sibiu, Tirgu-Mures and Timisoara, and has also a partnership with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy ‘Nicolae Testemitanu’ in Chisinau (Republic of Moldavia). The programme consists of a one or two weeks of exchange period in which students follow theoretical classes and clinical practice. It has full support from the medical universities that are involved in the project and aims to improve academic quality, student’s learning, and professional development of the students.

Objectives: Organizing a volunteer team that is well enough motivated is sometimes difficult but most of the medical student organizations have a large number of students that know the important principle of ‘Students Helping Students’.

Usually the programme is scheduled in two periods, one in May and one in November, but it can run also in one period taking two weeks. At least 15 students from each centre participate each exchange period. They are granted accommodation, have access to courses from the guest university, and join a cultural programme from the receiving student organization.

All feedback and evaluation forms are collected centrally at national level; their results are discussed in any next national meeting.

Running the programme step by step

  • Preparations: The exchange periods are decided at national level during TransMed’s General Assembly, depending on the schedule and resources of each university. The project needs to be approved every time by the universities, as the amount of accommodation facilities to book. Afterwards, posters, flyers, and e-mails are spread among the students and the sign-up period is then opened. The number of applicants grows every year as the number of participants. From 60 students in the first years up to 160 students participated in the last exchange period, which took place in May 2010. Every section selects its participants according to their marks, research, and voluntary activity. The accommodation is usually granted for 10 persons. Other students can participate in the programme also but they need to find accommodation themselves. Usually it is not difficult among students and this makes the project very flexible
  • Activities:
  • Scientific: All students join the theoretical courses that they would have in the same period in their home university. In special cases, they are allowed to choose other courses of their interest. For example, students that are already running a research project can extend it or establish collaboration with other researchers at the hosting university.
  • Social and cultural: Every local committee establishes its own programme, which usually consists of theatre or movie visits, meeting with other students, etc. Experimenting new culture and social environments is very important for a complete view on the student life in a new city.

Evaluation: Taking in account that the project involves many students and teachers, evaluation is decided upon from different angles. The participating students evaluate the guest university, the organizing students evaluate themselves, and the teachers evaluate the programme and the students they had in their classes. At the end of this assessment, the local coordinators make a report about the problems and draw-up the difficulties they encountered, supported by some statistics as derived from the evaluation forms. These evaluation data reflect serious involvement of the students in the project. It also shows that many ideas are developing from the students’ needs.

The reports are discussed in the University Council and in the next TransMed General Assembly.

Positive feedback is given every year for the project itself. There are always organizational problems but everyone has still a lot to learn.

Recognition: All coordinators must confirm for the participating students that they attended the respective courses by certificates. Each course certificate is specifically documenting student’s activity. At the end of the programme, each student receives a diploma which documents all the activities that the student undertook during the exchange period. The local coordinators make out the diplomas but the officials of the university sign them for a higher recognition. Because the medical education system in Romania is quite homogenous, there were no recognition problems until now.

Development of the project: TransMed developed very much since its first run. In the beginning, the exchanges took place only between three universities, for one week per year but not in the same time and only for students in the fourth, fifth and sixth year of study. Today, the project runs in all medical universities in the country, twice a year and with students from the second to the sixth year. In the last two years, the project was extended to a transnationalproject and collaboration was set up with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Chisinau. Other countries that could join the programme in future are Bulgaria, Hungary, and Italy. They all have similar projects running but with many differences. At the IFMSA General Assembly, discussions took place to find ways of working together and to exchange students in this international dimension.

The European Medical Students Association (EMSA) has a similar project called ‘Twinning project’. It runs only between partner universities but very few in Romania are members of EMSA. One interesting development could be the collaboration of TransMed with this project if more medical student organizations would become members of EMSA.

Nevertheless, the lack of curricular compatibility and university programmes is a major factor that sets back the initiative. Recognition is very important for every student; this is one area where a European Core Curriculum would help to develop the TUNING-project.

Conclusion: Mobility is desirable on all levels of medical training and education, allowing access to many new opportunities. TransMed improves the communication between medical students all around the country and contributes to the development of a unitary medical student community in Romania. It contributes to the professional development of the student, as it offers the opportunity to work in a different environment, to exchange experiences, to compare and gain valuable information about the differences between teaching systems and techniques all around the country. At the same time, students are offered the possibility to gain a full image of the local on-campus environment, of the local cultural, social points of interest. Not only once it happened that students changed their university for the next years after taking part in the programme.