Cooperation between clinical and basic medical disciplines in PhD programmes

Importance of the cooperation between clinical and basic medical disciplines in PhD programmes

Kamil Javorka

Comenius University, Jessenius Faculty of Medicine, Martin, Slovakia

Postgraduate study in Medicine (PhD and/or specialization) is conditio sine qua non for research, education and clinical work. In Slovakia, PhD programmes in Medicine are provided in all Slovak Medical Faculties and in some Departments of the Slovak Academy of Sciences supervised in this field by Medical Faculties.

Opinions on the PhD study in clinical medicine were/are various and extreme in some cases. On the one side, there is a conviction that clinics cannot provide PhD study of high quality, and they are designated only for specialization study. On the opposite side, there is an opinion that clinics themselves, separately, can provide postgraduate PhD programmes. It seems, the truth is somewhere on the scale between the extremes.

What are experiences with PhD programmes in clinical fields at Jessenius Medical Faculty in Martin, Slovakia? In the previous period, until the year 2000, the basic medical (theoretical) and preclinical disciplines were priorities for the PhD study. Recently, the postgraduate study has became open in the clinical disciplines – accredited after fulfilling criteria of the Ministery of Education. The interest of the graduates having title MD in continuation in PhD study went up greatly by this act.

In the academic year 2006/2007, at Jessenius Medical Faculty (in the branch General Medicine ñ study in Slovak language) have studied 706 pregraduate and 173 postgraduates students (approx. 25%). From 173 PhD students, 120 of them were in the part-time study and 53 in the full-time study. In PhD clinical programmes were engaged up 152 (88%) PhD students; 21 (12%) students were in theoretical and preclinical departments of the Faculty.

From 173 PhD students, 87 % were graduates having MD title. The rest graduated in other faculties (Faculties of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Pharmacy, etc.).

These data reflect enormous interest of graduates with MD title to study (and to work) in university clinics. Only small part of the PhD students at Medical Faculty having MD title is primarily engaged in basic research. However, it does not mean that dissertation themes in clinical medicine are studied only in clinics. Almost every theme has its own overlapping part with basic medical disciplines studied in the theoretical and preclinical departments. More than 50% of the PhD students have two tutors (clinical and Ñtheoreticalì), and vice versa, themes in basic and preclinical medical fields have ussually a tutor ñ specialist in the relevant clinical field.

It seems, the best way for PhD programmes in clinical medicine leads through close collaboration between clinical and theoretical/preclinical departments and vice versa, the themes in basic medical field have benefit from clinics. The benefit if this collaboration is indeed numerous and multilateral ñ for faculties, departments, hospitals, clinics, research, education, graduates, clinical practice and patients.