The University of Copenhagen Prepares Students of Medicine for the Future Healthcare System – University of Copenhagen

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26 September 2017

The University of Copenhagen Prepares Students of Medicine for the Future Healthcare System


The new elective 5th semester of the study programme in medicine prepares future doctors for coming challenges facing the healthcare system, including an international perspective, digitisation and more senior citizens. The programme has been developed in close cooperation with regions and hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark and Region Zealand.

The study programme in medicine at the University of Copenhagen now adapts several branches of the programme to the future needs of the healthcare system. In the new elective 5th semester the students can now choose from a great range of courses within specialisation, research, digitisation, innovation and internationalisation. It will prepare and enable them to meet the demands of the public hospital service, private companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

Candidates for Future Patients
Today a 70-year-old citizen uses the hospital services twice as much as younger citizens, and in 2050 the number of 80-year-olds will have tripled. Modern forms of treatment are becoming more and more digital and technically demanding, while the need for international cooperation on handling antibiotic resistance, global epidemics and other international health challenges increases. Last but not least the pharmaceutical industry demands more highly specialised candidates for the development of new medicines, which is one of Denmark’s main exports.  

The country’s oldest and largest study programme in medicine has therefore chosen to upskill the candidates for the future healthcare system with international challenges, digitisation and more senior citizens.

‘As doctors and researchers our graduates must strive to promote health and high quality of life and to devise solutions for a healthcare system at the highest international level. We are giving our students the freedom to immerse themselves and test possible career paths, thereby maturing and qualifying the choice of career they are about to make. In the course of the programme they will learn to master modern forms of treatment and new technology and to meet patients and relatives with empathy’, says Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences Ulla Wewer.

Future, Freedom and Immersion
These weeks a number of students of medicine are starting an elective 5th-semester course – a self-elected course focussing either on research, international commitment or a specialty.  

Traditionally, doctors only get a chance to ‘sniff’ at possible specialties after completing their clinical basic training, which typically takes five years. However, the new elective 5th semester now gives them a chance to try out potential career paths at an earlier point in their training, enabling them to make qualified decisions when choosing a specialist programme.

’If we want to try our strength against research, this is an excellent opportunity. If we want to explore a specialty, we get a chance to act at resident level with in-depth continuity of care. And we can also choose a clinical stay abroad. I think this will make it easier for me to explore and understand my career opportunities as a doctor’, says Andrea Maier, a student of medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

Great Support from the Regions
These weeks a number of students start a course in the Capital Region of Denmark and Region Zealand, who together have developed more than 30 speciality-focussed courses conducted at hospitals and clinics. 

The elective 5th-semester courses have been developed by the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with fiery souls from 30 units within eye disorders, cross-sectoral continuity of care, special examinations, child and adolescent psychiatry and geriatrics, and it is vital to the future healthcare system that the students soon after graduating are able to contribute with expertise to an everyday workday involving many professional, technical and ethical challenges’.

’We need doctors who both have solid professional competences and a strong sense of judgement to solve future health challenges and face the greater share of senior patients. Our cooperation with the regions now gives the students a chance to be inspired by specialists from the clinical environments. This will make their transition to the labour market more supple, while at the same time contributing positively to the academic environments here’, says Chair of the Health Committee in the Capital Region of Denmark Karin Friis Bach.

Read more about the elective 5th semester here

Specialist Perspective at Glostrup Hospital
This week the Department of Geriatrics at Glostrup Hospital is welcoming two students of medicine, who will gain speciality-focussed insight into the diagnosing and treatment of patients typically aged 65 years or more and suffering from food and fluid consumption, memory, mobility, balance or continence problems. The semester at Glostrup Hospital will prepare the students for handling an increasing number of senior patients, and the department hopes the semester will motivate the students to choose geriatrics as their future speciality. 

’The future healthcare system will see an increasing demand for special competences for treating senior patients and patients suffering from multiple conditions. It is therefore very positive that students of medicine now get an opportunity to gain insight into geriatrics. We consider it an obvious opportunity to attract more doctors to the department in the future’, says Course Leader and Executive Consultant at the Department of Geriatrics at Nykøbing Falster Hospital Ellen Holm.

Research Perspective at Roskilde Hospital
Several students have chosen to try their strength against research, and Student of Medicine Morten Jørgensen [M1] will be spending the semester at the Eye Department at Roskilde Hospital in Region Zealand, where he will be contributing to the development of ophthalmological tests of the retina and optic nerve.

‘For a long time I have wanted to train as an ophthalmologist, but did not know whether to choose becoming an eye specialist with patients or a researcher in eye diseases. Now I am able to confirm or disconfirm whether research is the right choice for me. If I did not have this opportunity to test this career path, I may have put my training on hold to test it concurrently with my studies’, says Morten Jørgensen. 

Torben Lykke Sørensen, Course Leader at the Eye Department at Roskilde Hospital in Region Zealand and Clinical Professor at the University of Copenhagen, explains that the students add diversity and ask questions, thereby strengthening the research environment in the department. In the long term they get to solve tasks that require great professional competency as well as insight into everyday activities in the department. He also hopes the semester will make the students want to return to the department, when choosing a more long-term career path.

International Perspective
Another group of students are starting an intensive course that will prepare them for a stay abroad either in Poland, Tanzania or another location of their choice.

Contact Information
Head of Studies Jørgen Kurtzhals
Phone: 26 29 00 39

Student of Medicine Andrea Maier
Phone: 25 82 58 24

Department of Geriatrics at Glostrup Hospital
Course Leader and Chief Physician Ellen Holm
Phone: 21 60 07 36

Student of Medicine Aske Wissum
Phone: 29 66 03 38

Eye Departmen at Roskilde Hospital
Course Leader and Clinical Professor at Zealand University Hospital Torben Lykke Sørensen
Phone: 47 32 39 47

Student of Medicine Morten Jørgensen
Phone: 28 97 01 10

International Perspective
Programme Coordinator Birgitte Gantriis, Department of Public Health
Phone: 35 32 76 34

Student of Medicine Tobias Skou Kjøller (stay abroad in Poland)