DTMD University: Lifelong learning is mandatory for medical and healthcare professions
The knowledge is not new, nor is it the reserved knowledge of a few experts: medical progress depends on people as well as on technology. Modern medicine requires enormous investments in equipment and organisational infrastructure. Nevertheless, tangible success can only be achieved if, in addition, clever and committed minds in clinics and laboratories accept the innovations and work with them. Prof. Dr. André Reuter, President of the DTMD University for Digital Technologies in Medicine and Dentistry: "We need a continuously high level of theoretical and, above all, clinical (= practical) education and experience. Medicine is first and foremost an empirical science that uses scientific findings and results. As Albert Einstein said: "Learning is experience. Everything else is simply information." Medical progress needs both.
It is precisely here that there are blatant deficits in the German education and research landscape. Journalist and political scientist Jan-Martin Wiarda writes in an analysis that is not very flattering for politicians that the corona pandemic has mercilessly exposed the failures of recent years: "It is about the lack of digitisation of schools, the insufficient German investment in groundbreaking innovations in science (such as new vaccination procedures) and the lack of funding for the training of doctors and medical personnel. And, we should definitely add: "It is also about the lack of respect and the poor payment of systemically important nursing staff in hospitals and nursing homes.
Digitisation exacerbates deficits
The increasing digitalisation of medicine is exacerbating the deficits identified. The "profitable" use of new technologies and procedures for the patient generally requires new skills and competencies that require extensive further training. In many places there is a lack of political insight, sometimes also a lack of willingness to invest in these areas and, above all, a lack of time for implementation. At the same time, the demands placed on the health care system and the health care professions are becoming more and more demanding.
Technical progress is mercilessly reducing the half-life of subject-related academic knowledge. Moreover, university education is heavily dependent on theory. Graduates often have considerable practical and clinical deficits. Like many practicing physicians, they lack further-reaching knowledge of new evidence-based treatment methods and practices. Above all, practice-relevant training opportunities that come as close as possible to reality are scarcely or inadequately available in our training institutions.
Lack of LLL culture
A reversal of the trend is unfortunately not in sight due to the lack of an established culture of lifelong learning (LLL) in the health care system. However, behavioural research has long recognised that learning and similar cognitive processes can promote professional identity and satisfaction and even prevent burnout.
This is precisely where the DTMD University for Digital Technologies in Medicine and Dentistry comes in with its extra-occupational postgraduate courses and study programmes. It commits itself
to the strict quality, transparency and permeability requirements of the Bruges/Copenhagen process.
In contrast to the parallel process in the higher education sector, the Bologna Process, the Bruges/Copenhagen Process is not an intergovernmental project, but an EU process that is specifically designed to meet the special needs and requirements of vocational, occupation-related and in-service continuing education and training. It provides an optimal legal and regulatory framework for the postgraduate in-service courses and study programmes of DTMD University. Above all, however, the Bruges/Copenhagen Process offers a high level of transparency and permeability of vocational training paths that is not even provided for in the Bologna Process. With reference to both the European and the German Qualifications Framework (DQR), this means in concrete terms that there must be continuous training paths from level 4 (3 and 3 ½-year dual vocational training courses for occupations in the health care and elderly care sector that are regulated by Land or federal law) through to level 8 (doctorate).
The transparency and permeability regulations of the Bruges/Copenhagen process are of lasting benefit above all for non-academic skilled personnel in nursing and care. They lack reasonable opportunities for further training and promotion, which makes the profession unattractive in the long term and aggravates the shortage of skilled workers. This is all the more incomprehensible as the Chambers of Industry and Commerce have extended their training courses for many occupations right up to the academic level of the qualification framework, i.e. level 6 (Bachelor) and 7 (Master). With the Bachelor Professional and the Master Professional, the Bundestag and the Bundesrat have even approved new job-related academic degrees. Obviously, the care sector lacks a strong lobby. It is to be hoped that the corona epidemic will prompt some politicians and officials to take action and that systemically relevant professions will be given the educational options they are entitled to. DTMD University has voluntarily pursued the Bruges/Copenhagen strategy since its foundation.
Open and transparent educational pathways
Open and transparent educational pathways are a basic prerequisite for Lifelong Learning (LLL) in order to understand change. This means keeping up to date with current trends and learning about new technologies and problem solutions.
However, lifelong learning, especially in the health care sector, only does not fall short if it covers a broad spectrum of competence development, including formal, informal and non-formal learning. In medicine, this also includes skills, knowledge, attitudes and behaviour that doctors acquire through their daily experience. LLL means striving for a continuous build-up and gain of skills and knowledge and to create links between learning outcomes from different environments and contexts. This promotes personal development, competitiveness and employability. Primarily important is the basic competence to learn to learn. This probably only works outside the traditional university and the associated Bologna Process.
LLL accelerates the digitalisation of teaching and learning and leads to new cultural norms with hitherto unknown techno-economic structures. They will give rise to new behaviour patterns among teachers and learners, as we know them from the "on-demand economy": "push-button services" - "learning on demand", then, when and where it suits me.
Developing the skills for "learning transfer
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, puts it in a nutshell when he calls for us to expand our ability to "transfer learning" through lifelong learning. By abstracting and generalizing, acquired knowledge about concrete facts and/or connections can be applied to similar phenomena. And further: "Skills and knowledge become semantic trees, which in turn generate new skills and knowledge.
In learning transfer, we distinguish between lateral and vertical knowledge gain. In the first case, the application of the previously learned material refers to a learning material of the same type and complexity. Vertical transfer, on the other hand, generates new skills and knowledge, supports the development of facts and contexts with greater depth and complexity.
This is precisely where DTMD University sees a significant advantage of its practice-oriented surgical training. They are based on sound theoretical knowledge and show students modern techniques and procedures that they can use in many concrete cases with their patients. The aim of the training courses is to involve the students in the acquisition of new knowledge and skills and to sharpen their judgement in order to close performance gaps identified by experienced lecturers in clinical practice.