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Six new Technical Medicine Fellowships

UT steps into the breach with an incentive scheme, as the government fails to act

A few years ago, the University of Twente introduced the Technical Medicine programme, a new medical discipline in healthcare. In the interests of further professional development, it is important for practitioners of Technical Medicine (as is the case with physicians) to be given the opportunity to follow a clinical postgraduate course: a Fellowship in Technical Medicine. With this in mind, the University of Twente has now created an incentive scheme. “This is really a job for the government, but we don’t want to deny this opportunity to an entire generation of Technical Medicine staff.”  

The University of Twente launched the Technical Medicine programme in 2003. This step was triggered by the realization that advancing technology in the healthcare sector required professional staff capable of harnessing an in-depth knowledge of technology and medicine for the improvement of patient care. Since then, around 300 Technical Medicine students have graduated from the programme. Practitioners in this field are currently in great demand. However, in the interests of further professional development (as is the case with physicians), a postgraduate course enabling Technical Medicine practitioners to specialise further in everyday practice is indispensable. Heleen Miedema, Programme Director for Technical Medicine points out that “We feel it is vital for us to safeguard the quality of Technical Medicine practitioners in the workplace as effectively as possible. To this end, the university has developed an incentive scheme for Technical Medicine Fellowships. With these Fellowships we have created a structure that will enable us to assess and supervise the practitioners of Technical Medicine in their professional duties.” This is a sandwich programme, involving an educational component and experience in patient care.”

Martijn van Mourik, chairman of the Dutch Association for Technical Medicine (NVvTG), also sees the need for a postgraduate course of this kind. “The Fellowship enables practitioners to acquire greater in-depth knowledge, while at the same time widening their focus, in a specific clinical domain. It is entirely logical that we should make the fullest possible use of Technical Medicine practitioners’ capabilities” he says. Ultimately, patients will benefit from this.” 

Incentive scheme

In the context of this incentive scheme, the Technical Medicine programme will make funds available for six individuals to take the two-year clinical training programme. The Technical Medicine fellows taking these programmes will provide patient care and develop proficiency in the delivery of complex medical technology care. The programme will be based on an NVvTG-approved training plan. The Fellows will be supervised by a medical specialist in a University Medical Centre or Tertiary Clinical Care Hospital and the University of Twente.

According to the terms of the incentive scheme, the University of Twente’s Technical Medicine programme will pay forty percent of the cost, while the hospital department in which the Fellow works will be responsible for the remaining amount. Today, the Radboud University Medical Center Nijmegen and the University Medical Center Groningen each signed two contracts with the University of Twente. The University Medical Center Utrecht, in cooperation with the Epilepsy Institute in the Netherlands (SEIN), and OCON (the Orthopaedic Centre of the Eastern region of the Netherlands), in collaboration with the Twente Hospital Group (ZGT), signed the other contracts.   

Government task

Dr Miedema states that it is actually the government’s responsibility to establish a training fund for practitioners of Technical Medicine. Accordingly, she is calling on the authorities to take responsibility for these matters as quickly as possible. However, in the light of the government’s failure to respond, her educational programme is now picking up the gauntlet. “After all, we don’t want to deny this opportunity to an entire generation of Technical Medicine staff.”