What is the MME and who is the program suitable for?
HMB: I think the MME is ideal for people who have already done a bit of teaching, who enjoy bringing something closer to others. For those who want to actively shape teaching at the faculty, the MME simply means professionalization and the ability to look at developments and processes on a meta-level. Of course, it is also a personal development for one's own appearance.
KK: In the MME, you learn how to improve teaching as a multiplier in the faculty. Especially the young residents, who do a major part of the teaching, often don't know exactly how to convey the content.
When and where did you complete the MME?
KK: I did the MME in Bern in 2014 to 2015. I was kind of a chick there, because I was by far the youngest. That felt strange at first as a first-year resident, when everyone around you is a senior physician. Today, in my professional life, I see it as an advantage that I did my MME so early. It's often easier when residents talk to each other. You can pass things on well at eye level without encountering resistance.
HMB: I was already a senior physician when I did the MME in Heidelberg from 2005 to 2007. We were the first cohort in Germany. That was a remarkable experience, because we witnessed how such a study program is created. The development of such a degree program is a process that is subject to continuous feedback and change processes, and we were there from the very beginning.
What distinguishes the two locations?
HBM: The MME in Germany is a very multifaceted degree program. It is supported by many faculties in Germany and you always visit one of these locations during the attendance times of the program. This location is then not only responsible for the organization of the respective content, but you also see on site how the teaching is organized there and how the model study program is structured at the respective location. With all its advantages, but also with the problems. You also get to look behind the scenes. In the last week, there is an excursion, which often goes abroad. For example, we were in Bern, Switzerland - a highlight of medical didactics in Europe. That way you get to look beyond the borders of Germany.
KK: That's also the big difference between Heidelberg and Bern. In Bern, the focus is on lecturers from Switzerland and the USA, who are so-called luminaries in their field. I feel that the course there is more theoretical and scientific in structure. It's simply a different focus.
HMB: Of course, theory is also taught in Germany. But the focus is on practical application: How do I translate theory into practice? You work in small groups on specific projects and, at the end, you leave this course of study with a bulging toolbox for your practical work. So it's a master's program in the best sense.
In addition, the networking is of course enormous. To this day, I benefit from the fact that I know fellow students, even from later years, whom I can always talk to.
Ms. Klein, you received a scholarship from our faculty for your studies, which you can apply for again now. What was your experience like here?
KK: To apply for the faculty scholarship, you need a concrete project that should also have a lasting meaning for the faculty. Matthias Hofer, the head of medical didactics in the Dean of Students Office, encouraged me to do this at the time and gave me a lot of support throughout my studies. My project was to train all residents and senior physicians active in teaching on the teaching formats in the practice blocks. You work out this project idea and present it to the associate dean and the QV committee. They decide whether the project is worthwhile for the faculty or not. But I think it's not just about the project. I think the sustainability and the motivation behind it are even more important. So if someone says they want to be involved in the faculty and they also see their future with us in the long term.
HMB: I also think it has to be a matter of the heart. You have to have a project that makes you want to put your private resources into it.
What does the MME mean for your own career?
HMB: It means a lot for you personally because you can simply look at learning processes in a much more professional way. You understand what works well in teaching and what doesn't, and you have the tools to change this. In the university context, of course, publications and the acquisition of third-party funding play a major role. Both of these are more difficult to obtain in teaching than in research. So those who are involved in teaching don't do it primarily for their career, but do it because they have found a place for themselves in teaching coordination or curriculum development, for example, and want to handle it more professionally.
KK: I'm in a slightly different situation there. For me, it is already the case that the MME among almost 70 residents in our clinic also means a unique selling point. Nevertheless, you also have to enjoy the subject.
Does the MME give you a different standing with your colleagues?
Does it have more impact if you, as an MME-er, say something about teaching?
HMB: Yes, I think it does.
KK: Yes, and of course it depends on the status of teaching in your own clinic. I'm at a clinic where the boss obviously attaches a lot of importance to teaching. If the boss is also behind it, then it's a completely different situation in which you have much more freedom.
Patient care, teaching, research and studying on the side - what about your private life?
HMB: I think during your studies you actually pay your own way, even if you are released for the attendance phases. You can't do that without private commitment, because the modules have to be prepared and followed up, and that's a considerable effort. But it is worth it. No one can do teaching, research and clinical work perfectly to the same extent. You have to set your priorities, and those who set a focus on teaching in addition to clinical work are in good hands at MME.
What makes Düsseldorf an attractive location for MME students?
HMB: Our faculty has set itself on a good path with the model study program. The model study program offers a lot of freedom to develop things. The new teaching and examination formats give us a great deal of openness.
Many other locations are also doing what our model study program is all about: working in an interdisciplinary way, combining the clinical and practical subjects with the basic subjects. But what sets Düsseldorf apart, in my opinion, are our new teaching and learning formats. Society expects us to ensure that a doctor who has finished his or her studies is able to master a certain repertoire of treatment occasions, i.e., of a patient's concerns. This is implemented in Düsseldorf with learning on treatment occasions and runs through our curriculum as one of the important major red threads. We train physicians from the first semester to be able to act on patients one day.
KK: What I always emphasize when introducing new colleagues is that we have so many students who are hands-on. The model course of study is designed to give students much more practical training in the clinics and institutes. So we are actually required from the very beginning to explain what we do every day during rounds. I believe that this makes you better at your job yourself. It's not only good for the students, but you also think about: "Why did I do it this way?", "How do I explain it so that it's understood?" - that already makes a lot of difference for residents.
And what could be improved or further developed here?
HMB: A curriculum like this is never finished, it's always in flux. Of course, our mission statement remains the same, but the exact content, methods and examinations are a constant development process, and we are not yet at the forefront internationally. New perspectives open up every decade, and the question is how do we change when new, well-founded ideas become internationally state-of-the-art? We must not remain at the current level. I think we are on a good path, but there are also a few bigger projects that could still be coming up.
HMB: For example, the expansion of clinical-practice exams or also interdisciplinary collaboration with the basic subjects. And that just requires resources that clinicians don't have right now.
What I would definitely like us to do is think about alternative clinical-practice exams. There are mini-CEXs and case presentations, but the block final exams are mostly written exams, after all. They should also have their value, but they can only represent a part. The patient does not say "I have abdominal pain and this could be: A, B, C, D, E", but it is about clinical competencies. That has to take on a greater significance.
KK: Exactly, and this also includes the expansion of training courses for teachers that focus on didactics, small-group teaching or clinical teaching. This is where we MME-ers can contribute to further professionalization.