From child protection to palliative care: at Oldenburg University's General Practice Summer School, 25 medical students from all over Germany are gaining insights into the varied working life of general practitioners.
A man like Mr K. could show up at any GP's office. An elderly patient with diabetes and chronic airway inflammation, a smoker – this is the fictitious case Dr. Andrea Ritter, a general practitioner in Oldenburg, describes to the six medical students in the group she is teaching. "He complains of back pain and strange pimples on his chest – nothing major," the general practitioner reports. It is only on his way out that Mr K. mentions, his brow slick with perspiration, that he's not quite feeling like his old self anymore. Could he perhaps have an ECG at his next appointment?
"What do you do?" Ritter asks the students, who are listening attentively. The six young men and women in the room are taking part in the General Practice Summer School at the University of Oldenburg. Twenty-five medical students have come here from all over Germany to spend a week at the university learning about practicing modern medicine in rural areas in a very practice-based course.
Organized by a team from the Division of General Practice/ Family Medicine at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences in cooperation with the German Foundation of General Practice and Family Medicine (DESAM), the motto of the course is "Rural medicine - between chicken coop and ultrasound", and the programme includes various workshops on topics as diverse as wound care, sonography and child protection. "We're all very enthusiastic about the dedicated lecturers and the interesting seminars," says Lisa Pfau, a student from the University of Lübeck. "The Summer School allows us to broaden our horizons and complements our studies."
This morning, the topic of Andrea Ritter's class held at the Clinical Training Centre of the European Medical School Oldenburg-Groningen (EMS) is "emergencies". And of course, Mr K. turns out to be one. Now the students, all of whom are already in the clinical phase of their studies, get to try out resuscitation techniques on a CPR dummy. One of the students presses down hard on the dummy's chest at brief intervals while another stands at the ready with an oxygen mask and a third fetches a defibrillator.
While Mr K. is being resuscitated with all the tricks of the trade, six students in the next room are learning how a general practitioner examines a patient's musculoskeletal system. Sabine Kurpgoweit, a specialist in general medicine and a research associate at the University of Oldenburg's Department of General Medicine, explains not only how to diagnose misalignments and muscle weaknesses, but also how to correct them.
A trip to East Frisia
"The message was that as a general practitioner there's a lot you can do yourself without having to send every patient to physiotherapy," says Nina O'Connell, a student at Hannover Medical School. In addition to attending the workshops at the university, the group is also visiting a general practitioner's office in the East Frisian town of Wittmund, the local Rescue Coordination Centre there, and the Aurich/East Frisia palliative care team. "As a country doctor you accompany people from the cradle to the grave – we want to convey the exciting variety of tasks to the participants," says Michael Freitag, a professor of primary care at the University's Department of Health Services Research and co-organizer of the Summer School.
The students are delighted to be able to participate in face-to-face courses again after three online semesters. "It's great to be able to exchange ideas and network with people from all over Germany," says Lea Meiners, who is in her fifth semester of medical studies in Oldenburg. She particularly enjoyed the lectures on psychiatry and psychosomatics in rural medicine – and the subsequent exercises in autogenic training.
The DESAM's General Medicine Summer School takes place once a year at changing locations in Germany. Supporting young general practitioners is one of the main tasks of the foundation.