Eske Gertje got the best of both worlds

Oldenburg seems so close. But the approach on healthcare is completely different then in the Netherlands, found Eske Gertje, the first European Medical Student to graduate.

It’s a great idea, really. By following the EMS programme, a partnership between the Universities of Groningen and Oldenburg, you can end up with a double degree in medicine and enjoy the best of both countries. So Eske Gertje did her practical medical training across the German border, in the city of Oldenburg.

In their fifth year students from Groningen can spend the second year of their practical rotations in Oldenburg as part of their Master’s degree in medicine, while students from Oldenburg can spend one year of their studies in Groningen doing either rotations or a research programme.

Too traditional

Despite some bureaucratic obstacles – it’s not possible to do the programme in the first three years of your studies – Eske has already noticed the advantages. She says: ‘You get a very good overview of two healthcare systems. Also, the multilingualism you acquire is an advantage if you want to stay in the north-west region of both Germany and the Netherlands.’

Although Oldenburg is only a two-hour drive away, there are significant differences in the two healthcare systems. ‘The hierarchy in the Oldenburg hospitals is still very strict and maybe too traditional. The chief physician enters a room first, and everybody else follows. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, physicians are more equal due to their specializations.’

Big deal

Another difference is the importance of the programme at each university. ‘Here in Groningen the EMS isn’t a big deal. The medical faculty is renowned and has an international medical degree programme, so the EMS is just a small part. However, for Oldenburg the EMS led to the foundation of an entirely new medical faculty.’

Eske has invested much of her time helping build up the EMS – from sitting on various committees to preparing translations for meetings. Nevertheless, she is happy to have been part of the project. ‘I was allowed to discuss my experiences and ideas, and was taken quite seriously, even as a student. I didn’t expect that, so I’m glad that I could help.’