Get PhD students into Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings: #BtoB project part II

The mission of Bench to Bed (BtoB) continues.

ideas_BtoB_meetingWe are a group of motivated medical/nursing students/medical science, designers and professors gathered to pinpoint where Karolinska Institutet should get better on to promote interdisciplinary research.

Last year, a couple of great experience designers, professor Carol Tishelman from LIME and I ended up at the KI Cancer Retreat to share our view on how to improve medical science, education and research: communicate better!

Today, with the support of Manal Al-Khanbashi and Ran Ma (both CCK), the group has written a letter to representatives of KI Cancer Program, to propose a revolutionary [in Sweden] idea to educate better scientists: allow PhD students to attend Multi-Disciplinary Team meetings.

To understand what’s all about, here’s the letter that has been sent last week. We’ll keep you posted as news come along 🙂

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Form Bench to Bed education

Though interdisciplinary research is a fundamental approach to face the global health challenges of the next future, PhD students at Karolinska Institutet have rare occasion to span over their narrow field of study. Particularly, molecular biology students in cancer research luck understanding of cancer patient management and medical doctor language. In this situation, a barrier between two side of cancer-fighters (biologists and medical doctors) impair students to appreciate the complexity of their primary target: the patients.

We think that the removal of such barrier will lead to better PhD education and more competitive research.

The goal

To this extend, we seek for a course or any other educational intervention that will remove this barrier. Strictly, the following learning outcomes should be pursued:

– the student have to upgrade they way of thinking, their language and their understanding of cancer patient care to a level at least comparable to the one of specialists MD.

– the student should gain confidence to interact directly to MD and understand the problem they face in the daily medical practice that involve patient care.

– the student have to acquire knowledge that will facilitate her/his to attend international conference outside the molecular biology field, possibly medical meetings

– the student will receive the most updated informations about cancer care directly from expert from the field, doctors that work at the very front, and have to be able to translate edivence-based science into treatment choice.

The method

Over the last few years, multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings have become a standard practice in hospitals and gained the status of the key decision-making forum for cancer patient management. In MDT meetings, specialists from different fields engage in a decision-making process that follow evidence-based medicine to suite the best treatment for every single patient (M. Keshtgar et. al., 2011).

To our knowledge, MDT meetings are attended by:

  • Surgeons
  • Medical Oncologists
  • Pathologists
  • Radiologists
  • Nuclear Medicine doctors
  • Geneticists
  • Nurses

As MDT meetings aim to minimize the gap among all these specialists, our group foreseen the potential of such meetings to introduce students to MD language and the ‘bed side’ of cancer practice.

To our knowledge, KI and Karolinska Hospital have poorly engage PhD students in MDT meetings. We are aware of two main limitations:

i) english is not the language that doctors adopt in their meetings

i) ethical concerns about patient sensible data demotivate an ‘open-door’ policy.

However, we firmly encourage decision makers to step forward and to facilitate the access to MDT meetings to eligible students. We propose to establish a group of students that can attend MDT at least once per week. The meetings will be organized around cancer types (prostate, liver, leukemia, etc.) and students will attend meetings according to their research area.

We are aware that this is a demanding project. The efforts required to put it in to action may discourage this approach in favor of a “one-week-shot” course. To our experience, chronic exposure to the field is the best method to learn and fix concept into people brains. No doubt we will be happy to evaluate different strategy or solutions.

Ultimately, considering the efforts put by the KI Cancer Program to educate MD to molecular biology research (to encourage more doctors to take part in research) the attempt to make biologists closer to MD practice sounds as reasonable strategy as the former.

Sincerely yours

The BtoB group

Riccardo Guidi, Manal Al-Khanbashi, Ran Ma

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