The rise of university courses that improve or save the lives of patients… and that are not Medicine | Education

The rise of university courses that improve or save the lives of patients… and that are not Medicine | Education
The rise of university courses that improve or save the lives of patients… and that are not Medicine | Education

Only one in every 13 applicants for a Medicine degree achieved a place in the 2022/2023 academic year at a public university and although this year the Government has increased the number of places by just over 10%, it has financed 706 extra positions to cover the vacancies. coming doctors―, the truth is that thousands of people are left out. And opting for private ones is not affordable for everyone, as it can cost up to 21,000 euros per year and there are six of them. But the campuses – which since 2010 have been able to create their own degrees outside of a catalog set by the Administration – do not stop inaugurating new degrees for professionals who work side by side with doctors and which can also be attractive to medical applicants who have not managed to enter. Although, be careful, these qualifications usually require a high cut-off grade and the war for the thousandth is on.

Competition in access to Medicine has always been very high, but the pandemic highlighted the importance of health services and demand has increased by 76% since then. Other healthcare careers – nurses, psychologists or physiotherapists – also have many interested parties and the path of pure research is now opening up.

“Like almost everything in this world, health is an increasingly complex issue. There is a healthcare part that is primarily in charge of medicine, but there are also many components that allow for new treatments and diagnoses, and greater knowledge of diseases. We saw it quite clearly with the pandemic,” says Alfonso Mendoza, doctor in microbiology. “The solutions came from biomedical research, which is what ends up developing a vaccine and treatments that develop diagnoses. “Research creates the necessary tools for assistance.” These key instruments for the health system encompass many new careers offered by the Spanish system: Bioinformatics, Biomedical Sciences, Bioengineering, Genetics, Biochemistry, Biotechnology or Neuroscience.

The Carlos III University intended to start two degrees this September in Getafe (Madrid), Neuroscience and Biomedical Sciences, but a delay in the works has led it to opt only for the first. “Neither in Spain nor in continental Europe is there one like it. Maastricht University [Países Bajos] It has one [llamado] Neurosciences, but when you enter the program it doesn’t have much to do with it,” explains Mendoza, coordinator of the degree. “In the United States, Canada and Australia there is a lot of tradition.” Its faculty has decided to make an “interdisciplinary degree” that combines the three Anglo-Saxon ways of approaching neuroscience – the biology around the functioning of the nervous system, behavior and learning, and the development of mathematical models that help to better understand how the brain works. brain—with the idea that students later specialize with the master’s degree. They will offer between 35 and 40 places, teaching will be in English and there is no indicative access grade as it is the first year. What they have detected is interest among high school graduates.

The field of Biomedical Sciences is more explored. “We could fit in a taxi when we created the association in 2018 and now we need more than a minibus. Two faculties have just applied for admission,” says surgeon Luis Capitán, dean of Medicine and president of the Association of Deans of Biomedicine, Biomedical Sciences and Related Sciences of Spain. There are already 17. “The degree combines knowledge of medicine and biology, with the idea that students at the end of the degree can apply advances in cellular and molecular biology to the medical area. It is true that, sometimes, basic science traveled somewhere else and did not reach the clinic,” acknowledges Capitán, who highlights the good employability of his graduates. Between 70% and 73% work within two years of finishing. They usually do the master’s degree.

Students in biomedicine practices at the University of Seville, this Monday.PACO PUENTES

In 2009, the University of Alcalá de Henares created the degree in Health Biology, dividing the degree in Biology into two, and its decision was very well received by the students. The new degree was positioned as the third with the highest access grade at the UAH and today it is the second, behind Medicine, says Daniel Martín Vega, professor of zoology and coordinator of the degree. They were pioneers and now they would have no problem changing their name to Biomedical Sciences, although for the moment they maintain theirs. Its graduates, like biomedical doctors, biochemists and biotechnologists, can opt for the BIR – like the MIR, but for biologists – to work in public organizations, but there is also work for them in biomedical or clinical laboratories or in fertility clinics.

Medicine is not only increasingly linked to science but also to technology and degrees such as Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering are emerging. “It’s a kind of fusion of biology and engineering [eléctrica y de comunicaciones]. I can give an example. We have an increasingly older population, it is more normal for someone to wear a prosthesis, titanium ones are very expensive and it is a responsibility. Doctors used to be the ones who decided whether a prosthesis was well made or not and now engineers are increasingly turning to it, because in the end a prosthesis is a piece of a binary. The engineer can make the design and verify, above all verify, that the final piece conforms to the initial design,” summarizes Mendoza, assigned to the Bioengineering department of Carlos III. These students receive a lot of training in computational information processing, in addition to solid foundations in biology and medicine to work with valves, valve design, software and algorithms for bioinformatics applications, X-ray images or resonances.

The Bioinformatics degree is along these lines, which in September will be offered in at least 10 universities, including the four public ones in Barcelona that share the degree. At CEU it is offered alone or in a double degree with genetics. They do not have a limit on the number of students, but they believe that in the first year about 15 will sign up. “In the news they talk about experimental studies, but never about the authors of the computer analyzes that allow conclusions to be drawn,” explains Osvaldo Graña, director of the degree in Bioinformatics and Big Data. “Personalized or precision medicine is not understood without bioinformatics,” he maintains. For example, if a patient does not respond to a treatment, a genetic study can be done that may find a mutation that explains what is happening or the analysis can prevent diseases by changing habits. He is a biologist and computer technical engineer, with up to eight years of training that does not seem necessary to him. In four years, he believes students will be able to answer the questions. He also graduates in this new branch of other degrees.

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