Interview with Matvii Khrenov

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We strongly recommend taking some time and reading a meaningful interview with Matviy Khrenov. Here we talked about medical education and work with medical educators, communication trainings in HEIs, and the importance of being a “great boss” to realize your idea.

Below we are publishing favorite citations from the interview. Please read the full text of the interview in the latest newsletter of the project here → https://bit.ly/3rSd92w 

What is not taught in higher medical education institutions, but should be? 

They have to teach to think. Higher medical education institutions speak a lot about clinical thinking. This is right, but it narrows the prospect. A doctor has to think not only in a clinical way. First, philosophy and history have to be powerful disciplines, and today they are taught in a very superficial way. Second, discussion skills have to be developed. Nobody has ever taught it. Indeed, the doctors’ work is often a discussion: with a patient, colleagues. When a case conference has to be gathered to address a complicated case, isn’t it an ability to think and discuss? 

And responding to the challenges of our time – the issues of vaccination and public health have to be taught. Nobody has ever taught us this, but nowadays, this knowledge is critical.

Teachers often complain that students are not motivated. Where to find motivation and is it worthwhile?

The question of motivation has no universal answer. Every student has the own “tragic” story why he/she lost motivation. If we take a student who lost motivation, because teachers were not able to interest him/her with their teaching, or a student whose parents made him/her enter a higher medical education institution, we see two different stories of losing motivation. But then again, students understand that their future employment does not depend on their average mark, which also does not contribute to strengthening the motivation to learn. Each such story requires an individual approach to solve the problem. For universities, it is important to understand that there are things they can influence: students’ involvement in the learning process, getting them interested in learning, and proper selection of applicants to the university.

I remember one of my teachers in whose classes, two thirds of students fell asleep. Even those who wanted to learn something fell under his dream spell. I think such teachers should not be permitted anywhere near the students, because any motivation will die under such conditions. Actually, attention should be focused on practical training, practising clinical skills. Because theorization of medical education, when students just sit in the empty classrooms and listen to lectures, should give way to interactive, simulation-based learning. 

What is more, tyranny — a totalitarian corporate culture of higher education institutions — in no way facilitates motivation. Today students are quite free, they think differently, not like before. The speed of information transfer has changed, and this should be taken into account.

What should be strengthened in medical education now?

I am not an expert in purely medical education, but, in my view, soft skills are important now. These are the things which are not 100% medical education, but they are important from the perspective of personal development – these are the abilities to think, communicate, and discuss. Because teachers know how to teach us anatomy, but not how to communicate with a patient. They can teach us surgery, but there are problems with creating a good multidisciplinary team. We have to understand that modern medicine is not about one doctor, but about a great multidisciplinary team. This is the direction where the focus in education should be shifted. 

Matvii Khrenov — co-founder of the Ukrainian Healthcare Centre (UHC), consultant of the Ukrainian-Swiss Project “Medical Education Development”.