A truly international lecture programme was held on the Rome Campus in the first two weeks of November for students in the Degree programme in Medicine and Surgery: lectures on Internal Medicine in the three-year clinical programme were given by two eminent visiting professors, Prof. Roy C. Ziegelstein (Johns Hopkins University) and Prof. Angela DeGirolamo (Yale University), together with Prof. Giovanni Gambassi, Director of the Degree Programme.
“The purpose of this teaching initiative,” says Prof. Gambassi, “was to expose students to a different methodology that transforms classroom time into an immersive experience in which the professor acts primarily as a facilitating tutor. That is, there is a tendency towards collective involvement to recover knowledge in the various disciplines and put it at the service of a clinical understanding that, with a scientific method, must lead to the diagnosis of real cases.”
Prof. Ziegelstein, Cardiologist, the Sarah Miller Coulson and Frank L. Coulson Jr., Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, comes from one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools with which Università Cattolica has entered into a collaborative agreement that allows students on the Medicine and Surgery programme to spend clinical rotations in the United States. Already a keynote speaker at the degree programme’s Graduation Day in 2022, he delivered a series of interactive lectures on the pathophysiology and clinic study of major cardiovascular diseases followed by a session in which students were asked to demonstrate their clinical skills by meeting real patients.
“Earlier this month,” Prof. Ziegelstein told CattolicaNews, “I had the pleasure of teaching two groups of Università Cattolica’s students different aspects of cardiovascular disease and clinical reasoning skills. It was a terrific opportunity to work with a group of engaged, enthusiastic, smart, knowledgeable, and talented young people who are on the way to becoming outstanding physicians and leaders in medicine.”
And the students really enjoyed their time in class with the Johns Hopkins University lecturer: “These were some of the best lectures we have had at the university in years,” said student Maya PuHachova. “Prof. Ziegelstein created a fantastic atmosphere in the lecture room, he explained everything so clearly, it seemed that all the gaps that I had in these topics became much clearer to me. Thank you for your personality and your professionalism, which will motivate me and help me to move forward in my medical journey with a new source of inspiration.”
The second week of lectures featured Prof. DeGirolamo, Clinical Professor at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut ‒ one of the eight academic institutions included in the Ivy League, which groups together the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States ‒ visiting professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery for the second year running.
Class time was designed around the advancement tests that students in medical programmes in the United States must take: each question provided the cue for a collegial discussion of elements of clinical pathophysiology and laboratory and instrumental diagnostics, and for correctly answering the question that stemmed from each respective clinical scenario. The last session, on the other hand, was run by the students in the flipped classroom mode: a group of students illustrated in class a clinical case related to a patient admitted to Policlinico Gemelli, whom they had met during their activities on the ward; Prof. DeGirolamo, deliberately unaware of the specific clinical case, then developed with the rest of the class the approach that finally led to the diagnosis.
“It was a great pleasure meeting with the students,” said Prof. DeGirolamo, “My objective was to offer them a different experience in regards to the approach to internal medicine. We discussed clinical cases and I was very pleased with the enthusiasm and involvement from the class: the students were able to overcome the shyness and the challenges inevitably included in a new way of looking at problems and to be proactive in debating the why and how of each point we came to consider. We reviewed lab results and imaging and made sense of possible differential diagnosis until we came to a conclusion.”
“I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in Prof. DeGirolamo’s interactive lectures,” commented student Anna La Rocca at the end of the week. “Personally, I learnt many new medical concepts, but what impressed me most was her ability to bring out all our enthusiasm and passion, while simply discussing a few clinical cases all together in class!”
“I had the good fortune in my career to spend long years at Johns Hopkins University and other Ivy League universities where I always admired the fact that teaching was the true identity activity and the reason for the very existence and prestige of the institution” ‒ concluded Prof. Gambassi. “Next academic year will see the start of a completely redesigned degree programme in Medicine and Surgery that aims to progressively lead towards a truly international format in which the professors themselves can adopt innovative teaching methods.”