The experiences of Copenhagen Health Innovation show that it adds value when hospital departments collaborate with students to solve specific challenges. Therefore, it has also become easier to find health professionals who are willing to open the doors for collaborations. Experience also shows that in order to ensure that the collaboration adds maximum value for both the educational institution and the health sector, it is essential that the right match is made between the challenge, the students’ competences and learning goals and the expected output for the department.
When the CHI partners initially started to bring health challenges into play in the teaching, it required a lot of investigative work by CHI’s innovation consultant in the Capital Region, Nina Brocks, to find the right challenges that might be brought into play together with students. This was mainly due to the fact that the process was largely based on demands from the teachers so the challenges were identified according to the frames prescribed by the education. This process proved both time-consuming and difficult to put into practice.
”Whereas some tasks may be easy to approach when they are defined, it turned out that the more specific the courses were with respect to subject angle and theme for semesters, the harder it actually was to find a match where both sides benefited from the collaboration”, says Nina Brocks
The Value of Collaborating with Students Has Become Clear
Especially during the past six months, there has, however, been a development where the teachers to a greater extent adapt parts of the course to fit the challenge. It has made the collaboration more equal and adds value for both parties. At the same time, the departments themselves have started communicating their challenges.
“As we now have several departments that have benefited greatly from the collaboration with students, the interest is spreading in ever-widening circles. It has become evident that while it is time-consuming to work with students, they may very well contribute with a new perspective and professional competences that are different from those that are usually available to the professionals in the clinic. They may contribute to entire projects as well as parts thereof, such as analysis, development or implementation, depending on their professional competences and the learning objectives of the course. This makes it easier to identify the challenges we can bring into play in relation to relevant courses in the future”, says Nina Brocks.
She emphasises the importance of matching the challenges with the right courses and of aligning the expectations for the output of the collaboration so it becomes clear which value it will add to all parties.
“Much depends on the actual contact person and what that person perceives as valuable. For some, it is the output itself, i.e. the suggested solution, which is valuable, for others it is the stage of completion of the output. And for still others the value lies in the process itself and the collaboration. Therefore, we see that it is extremely important to align the expectations for the contribution of the students through the collaboration”, says Nina Brocks.
Collaboration with Students Must be a Natural Part of Everyday Life
Things are moving in the right direction, but Nina Brocks and the other innovation consultants with CHI’s partners are still very much focusing on the further development of the initiatives in order that even more people from the health sector and the educational institutions want to get involved. For Nina Brocks, there is a special potential in starting the initiatives early in order that the challenger may help define themes during the semesters, thus ensuring a higher topicality by for instance working with themes that point to the strategic initiatives in the health sector and current societal challenges.
”We are aiming toward a place where the collaboration is not seen as an ‘add on’, but rather as a natural part of daily life at the clinic. If the educational institutions promote the agenda that the teachers need new and current challenges, then we will be able to really get things moving!” emphasises Nina Brocks.
Network Supports the Collaboration
In order to support both educators and health professionals in using health challenges in the teaching we have established the Network for Educators and Health Professionals. Here, interested parties may find inspiration, sparring and networking for the collaboration.