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Innovation as a Cooperation Tool in Teaching

KP forløb om mennesker med kræft, studerende pitcher

Students pitching solutions for improve patient involvement of benefit to Eric, a cancer patient.

300 students at UCC have spent seven weeks developing solutions for cancer patients, among others, and have improved practice with their great focus on the patient. In addition, the innovation course has made the students even more motivated.

In mid-January, 30 students are sitting in a classroom at Copenhagen University College, ready to pitch the solutions they have developed for a case on cancer patient Eric. When it is Group 2’s turn to present their idea, the six girls get up to get ready: One of them has drawn a moustache on herself, and two are wearing lab coats.

Via role play, the group demonstrates the frustration of Eric who suffers from cancer and has been hospitalised due to eating and drinking problems. He does not feel involved in his treatment and is worried about what will happen.

The group’s solution for increasing patient involvement is an Involvement Form filled in by a nurse at the ward and the patient together. The form takes as its starting point the individual patient and the aspects of the treatment in which he or she would like to be involved. The form is meant to be part of the Health Platform and is used actively as a tool by all staff groups to ensure that Eric feels sufficiently involved.

The representative from practice who attends the presentation approves of the idea:

’It is a very interesting idea. I would like to present it to the ward’.

From Physical to Mental Health

The other groups have focussed on different aspects of Eric’s case:

  • Group 4 focusses on Eric’s reduced intake of food and drink and suggests a juice bar, which focusses on offering healthy, nutritious juice custom-made to meet the nutritional needs of e.g. cancer patients.
  • Group 6 worries about the patient’s mental health and has developed a digital journal helping the patient to reflect on the course of the disease and to share it with the staff, as needed.
  • Group 1 focusses on supporting relatives, e.g. enabling Eric’s wife to follow his course of treatment and gain an overview of offers for relatives such as support groups, psychological help etc.

After the pitches, the representative from practice was impressed with the students and their great focus on making the patient the centre of their solutions.

Intensive Innovation Process

The pitches are the culmination of an intensive course, where 140 students from seven different study programmes have worked together on bringing focus to cross-professional cooperation.

The course, People with Cancer, began in December with a short introduction to innovation. During the two-hour introduction, CHI innovation consultants introduced the students to innovation and put them to work on an innovation process based on the process model Double Diamond. (Learn more about Double Diamond at the bottom of the page). The students were given a limited amount of time to explore the problem area in a concrete case on people suffering from cancer and to formulate an overall question for their continued work.

Studerende på KP igang med innovations-workshop

The students participating in the People with Cancer course during an intensive innovation workshop.

Students from seven study programmes working together:

  • Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Occupational therapist
  • Global Nutrition and Health
  • Physiotherapist
  • Radiographer
  • Social worker
  • Nurse

The students plunged headlong into it, sometimes with great frustration, and have since worked on developing solutions for various cases concerning people with cancer. Halfway through the course they met with a panel from practice, whom they could ask questions with a view to clarifying details about practices and cooperation in hospitals.

Teacher Anne-Lene Rye Markussen, who taught the course for the first time this year, enjoyed following the students’ development:

’In fact, I have learned just as must as the students, which of course means that I have been busy, but it has also been extremely interesting and instructive. I believe that as a teacher you must be able to live with frustrations right from the start and follow the students on the roller coaster ride it can be to identify your own role in cross-disciplinary cooperation – which will also be the case in practice’, Anne-Lene Rye Markussen stressed.

Motivational Course

The students who participated in the course enjoyed the new approach to working across professions.

’The course has been extremely interesting. I found the process of getting an idea and presenting it in this way very motivating. And when someone from practice is listening to your pitch, it makes things more serious – it is not just any other presentation’, says Janni from Group 1, who is training to become a radiographer.

She also stresses that cooperating with other professions has been instructive. Her group experienced great challenges to begin with, which they identified and solved theoretically by introducing a collaboration contract that provided the group with a set of collaboration rules for the collaboration.

Students Gain Important Understanding of Their Own Role

Precisely this experience was an important outcome of the course. The cross-professional cooperation gave the students a chance to understand their own professional standards and to relate them to others.

’The students learn a lot about themselves, their role and responsibility in cross-professional cooperation, and hopefully they will be able to put it to use in clinical practice, both as students and after graduating’, says Anne-Lene Rye Markussen.

Several Courses Focussing on Innovation

In addition to the People with Cancer course, the course Coherence in Continuity of Care also used innovation as a tool for cooperation among the 175 participating students.

Double Diamond as an Innovation Process

Double Diamond is a process model, which attaches importance to problem understanding in efforts to develop and qualify solutions for external clients. The model consists of four phases divided between two diamonds:

Double Diamond, figur:

  • Discover is about studying, exploring and understanding the problem area.
  • Define is about delimiting and defining a problem that requires solving.
  • Develop focusses on the process of solving the problem.
  • Deliver is about tests and evaluation with a view to preparing the concepts for production and implementation

The entire course is founded on the model, and the students are guided through the four phases to reach a final solution.


The activity is part of CHI-VEST, which is funded by:

Den Europæiske Socialfond