PHD PROGRAM KAUNAS UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE

PHD PROGRAM IN MEDICINE AND PROFESSIONAL CAREER OF THE GRADUATES IN KAUNAS UNIVERSITY OF MEDICINE

Professor Irena Miseviciene*, MD, PhD, Irena Juraleviciene*, Ingrida Uloziene*, MD, Rugile Ivanauskiene

Kaunas University of Medicine, *Institute for Biomedical Research, Kaunas, Lithuania

Research training and research career development are both becoming increasingly important in the debate on strengthening Europeís research capacity [1]. PhD program is an essential component of the scientistís training, as it offers challenges and rewards very different from those of undergraduate study. The Kaunas University of Medicine (KUM) in Lithuania offers a choice of 7 PhD programs related to many aspects of biomedical sciences, medicine is among them [2].

The aim of the study was to evaluate the general tendencies of the enrollment to the PhD program of medicine for the period of the last five years (2002-2006) as well as the completion effectiveness rate of the medical PhD students, and to evaluate the aspects of the professional career, expectations, motivations related to the PhD studies in medicine.

Material and methods. The statistical data of the Research Affairs Department of KUM were analyzed for the evaluation of the completion effectiveness rate for the period 2002-2006. The survey of doctoral graduates (graduated in 2004-2006) in medicine was carried out and evaluated. There were 66 PhDs in medicine questioned, their answers were evaluated. Total number of scientific publications was calculated from the summaries of the dissertations defended during the period 2004-2006.

Results. Every year total number of about 50-60 students enroll into the PhD studies in KUM in different programs. According to our statistics, about 50 % of PhD students choose program of medicine every year. The completion effectiveness rate of doctoral studies in KUM is more than 80%, it is much higher in the program of medicine alone – 93, 75% (table 1).

Table 1. Completion effectiveness rate of the PhD students in KUM (who started in 2002 and were scheduled to graduate in 2006).

Number of PhD students

Enrolled in the year 2002

48

Doctoral degree awarded in 2006

40

Had not completed the research till 2006 (maternity leave, sickness and other reasons for temporal break of the studies)

8

Completion effectiveness rate ( percentage) of total PhD studentsí number

83,34%

Completion effectiveness rate (percentage) of medical PhD students

93,75%

We have evaluated the numbers of the thesis in different medical research areas and found out that during the period 2004-2006 the clinical research based thesis were defended about 3 times more frequently than the fundamental research ones (table 2). It should be admitted that the dominance of the clinical research works could be influenced by insufficient budget financing for fundamental sciences.

Table 2. Comparison of the numbers of the clinical research and fundamental research thesis defended during the period of 2004-2006 in the PhD program of Medicine in KUM.

2004

2005

2006

Average

Clinical research (percentage)

90

77

70

79

Fundamental research (percentage)

10

23

30

21

It became evident that the clinical research in cardiology, oncology, endocrinology, surgery, and gastroenterology dominated among the defended thesis during the last 3 years (table 3), and this fact corresponds to the European Commissionís healthcare technologies roadmap [3].

Table 3. Comparison of the clinical research areas of the thesis defended during the period of 2004-2006 in the PhD program of medicine in KUM (number of the thesis per year).

2004

2005

2006

Total

Percentage

Cardiology

6

4

7

17

25

Endocrinology

1

5

1

7

10,5

Oncology

3

2

3

8

12

Gastroenterology

2

4

1

7

10,5

Neurology

2

1

3

6

8

Gynecology and obstetrics

2

2

4

6

Surgery

2

8

10

15

Other

6

1

2

9

13

Total

22

27

19

68

100

According to Lithuanian regulations, a doctoral student has to publish at least two peer-reviewed research articles with the main results of his/her research work. According to the statistics of the Research Affairs Department, most of the students publish more than required minimum. The average number of scientific publications per PhD student during the 4 years of studies is 4, 84 (about 50% of papers are being published in Lithuanian journal Medicina, which is referrer in Medline database) , but only 0.31 papers per 1 medical PhD were published in ISI journals. Low productivity in ISI journals might be associated with the underdeveloped fundamental research basis and insufficient budget financing for it. These number show that our doctoral students exceed the minimum Doctoral Regulation requirement of 2 publications more than twice [4]. There is no statistically significant difference in the number of published scientific papers between doctoral programs in medicine and public health.

According to our statistics 82, 6 % of PhDs that have completed their studies and successfully have been awarded with doctoral degree (completed studies in 2004-2006) were employed in KUM and its institutions as educators and researchers. The motivation for seeking the academic and research career was investigated using specially designed questionnaire. We found out that more than half of respondents have chosen doctoral studies due to the following reasons: great desire to continue education process (60, 8 %), to have occupation connected with academic process and research (62, 7%) and believing in better career opportunities (87, 8 %). We found that doctoral students evaluated the benefits of their PhD studies as follows: obtained lot of professional knowledge (70, 2 %), got experience in research work (96 %). About half of them (46 %) got the possibility to acquire knowledge abroad, and little bit more than half (58, 1 %) got transferable skills during the studies. The expectations of the students were fulfilled in 64, 9 % cases and more than half of students would choose the PhD studies again (59, 5 %). When questioned concerning what benefits the students had gotten after obtaining the PhD degree the answers were as follows: they got more self-confidence (70, 3 %), possibility for self-expression (59, 3 %) and better career (66, 2 %). The statistics showed that those PhDs who had chosen the PhD program willing mainly to make research claimed the possibility for self expression as the main benefit of the studies (r=0,341, p<0,05); those who did PhD due to expected better professional career felt they had got it after the graduation (r=0,393, p<0,05). Those of PhDs who had chosen PhD studies as prestige, felt more self-confidence after obtaining the degree (r=0,512, p<0, 05) and got better paid positions (r=0,345, p<0, 05).

Conclusions

We expect that such ratings and assessments as written above prove the KUM strength in preparation of the highest qualification specialists in medical field as well as in developing of research according to European standards, looking ahead to the needs of the community. The doctoral program in medicine in KUM ensures the development of scientific progress in medical field, availability of well prepared motivated human resources, which are necessary for educational and research processes in the University and development of knowledge society.

The facts regarding the dominance of clinical research compared to fundamental one and the great number of defended thesis in the clinical research area prove that clinical medicine is really meaningful. The prevailing topics of the thesis and areas of clinical medicine correspond to the EC trends for the following two decades [3].

References:

1. Berlin Communique (September 2003). www.bobgna-bergen2005.no/Docs/00-main_doc/030919Berlin_Communique.PDF.

2. I.Miseviciene, I.Uloziene, PhD programmes in biomedicine and health sciences in Kaunas Unievrsity of Medicine, Lithuania, Proceedings of the Second European Conference on harmonization PhD programmes in Biomedical and Health Sciences, University of Zagreb, Medical School, Zagreb, Croatia, April 22-24th, 2005:22-26.

3. A.Braun, Healthcare : key technologies for Europe, http://cordis.europa.eu/foresight/kte_expert_group_2005.htmftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/puf

4. Regulations for Doctoral Studies in Kaunas University of Medicine (in Lithuanian) http://www.kmu.lt/senas/senatas/doktoranturos.htm