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New healthcare training and education options

Baden-Württemberg universities have adapted their healthcare training and education to different requirements and a number of different specialised courses are on offer.

The healthcare sector is one of the most important growth sectors in Germany and is regarded as one of the key areas of activity in economic, employment and innovation policy. At present, 4.5 million people work in the healthcare sector and experts foresee a growth that will lead to the creation of 800,000 new jobs in the coming years. However, such growth also requires education and training to be adapted to the changing situation and the training and education spectrum to be expanded.

Healthcare management

Some Baden-Württemberg universities have already adapted their offer to the new requirements by creating new courses in the field of healthcare. The University of Hohenheim has expanded its teaching programme by adding a “healthcare management” study profile to its economics courses at the beginning of the 2007/2008 semester. This bachelor course focuses on the management of healthcare institutions, consumer behaviour and health insurance systems as well as ehealth and health telematics. In order to enable students to submit successful applications for posts in the international healthcare area, some of the lectures and seminars are being held in English. Outstanding students also have the option of participating in an exchange programme with the New Zealand Health Authority.

Aalen University also broadened its course offers through the inclusion of a bachelor course in health management, which started in the winter semester of 2007/2008. The Bachelor of Arts degree course lasts seven semesters, including a semester of practical training. The courses at the University of Aalen consist of 8-week lecture modules, including on-the-job courses and practical training, in which students are taught health economic aspects aimed at ensuring economic effectiveness and efficiency as well as process competencies enabling them to optimally devise the value creation chain in the healthcare system.

Dual courses – a practical concept

The Mosbach University of Cooperative Education offers courses for future healthcare executives. (Photo: Mosbach University of Cooperative Education)
In contrast to the aforementioned universities, the Mosbach University of Cooperative Education pursues a different teaching concept – the concept of dual courses. In the case of health management, healthcare institutions can chose to train their executives by working in cooperation with the Bad Mergentheim branch of Mosbach University. The students study half the time at the University and work the other half with a company. The theoretical and practical phases alternate in 12-week intervals; the students are also paid by the company where they do their training. During the three-year healthcare course the students grapple with problems that arise at different levels of healthcare management. Some of the key activities centre on optimising the cost-effectiveness of healthcare institutions as well as safeguarding quality.

Mosbach University works in close collaboration with healthcare partner institutions, including rehabilitation clinics, nursing and foster homes, outpatient social services as well as the association of social insurance companies and the head offices of charitable organisations such as the German Red Cross. In 2007, 25 students were enrolled on healthcare courses at Mosbach University.

Healthcare graduates are qualified to work in classical hospital administration, but also in the IT departments of hospitals and the management of medical care networks. Their work is closely associated with issues relating to health and social policies.

Medical engineering at the boundary between medicine and technology

Navigation system in orthopaedics (Photograph credits: BVMed-Bilderpool, source: Zimmer Germany GmbH)
Apart from the new requirements faced by healthcare management, it is also necessary to adapt existing technologies to the new requirements. This has also led Baden-Württemberg universities to restructure their courses. For example, Furtwangen University has established a Medical Engineering Course, an interdisciplinary course combining medicine and engineering sciences.

Furtwangen University offers specialist training in biomedical technology and surgical engineering/cardiotechnology, in which major focus is put on medical device technology and computer sciences, the application of laser technology in medicine and hospital management.

Albstadt-Sigmaringen University of Applied Sciences is also aware that biomedicine is one of the key healthcare technologies. It has created the Biomedical Engineering master’s course, which deals mainly with molecular medicine and diagnostics.

The University of Ulm offers bachelor and master’s courses in medical engineering; the 7-semester bachelor course focuses on medical engineering and biotechnology, but also gives special priority to electronics, measurement and control engineering and optics.

The follow-on medical engineering master’s course gives students with an excellent bachelor degree the possibility to pursue specialised training in biomechanics or cardiovascular diagnostics.

Medical engineers have excellent career prospects. Baden-Württemberg is home to numerous medical engineering companies and hence one of the leading locations in Europe in this area. The excellent research structure in Baden-Württemberg is also an excellent platform for industrial partners. Technical personnel are also needed in hospitals and education.

ap - 10.04.2008
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