An impressive social commitment and outstanding academic performance – an interview with a Deutschlandstipendium holder
For years, Roche has supported students from selected universities and colleges within the framework of the Deutschlandstipendium. The scholarship recipients are chosen by the universities and the selection is based on the academic performance and social commitment of the applicants.
We are very pleased that the LMU in Munich has selected Katherina Gantenbein for a Deutschlandstipendium this year.
In the interview, she reports on her multifaceted involvement as a medical student.
What is behind the nice term “Teddy Bear Hospital”?
The Teddy Bear Hospital is a project that started in Sweden and also takes place in many German cities nowadays. The purpose of this project is to reduce the children’s fear of doctors. The project takes place once a year in Munich and is organized by the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich and the Technical University of Munich. The patients in this hospital are cuddly stuffed animals, who come with their “parents”, the four to six-year-old children, and are welcomed and cared for by medical students. The medical students examine the stuffed animals together with the children, operate on them and go with them to the dentist and pharmacy. In this way, the children realize that only the essentials are performed on their beloved stuffed animals and that no pain is caused and the children learn to trust their doctors.
What goals are you pursuing as a member of the organization “Universities Allied for Essential Medicines” (UAEM)?
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) is an organization of students, whose goal it is to ensure worldwide access to medicines, independent of location or disease. The organization is active in different countries of the world and cities in Germany. The members meet annually at congresses and discuss diverse topics together.
Nowadays, approximately 10 million people a year die as a result of the lack of access to essential medicines. Since 41% of medical research and development worldwide is financed through public funds, we believe that the universities play a very great role in achieving our goals. That is why we are asking for fairer licensing models at our university. Another focus of the organization is the research of neglected diseases. In order to attract attention to these problems, we inform people about the topics by means of various events, such as movie nights and lectures.
Your short-term plans also include a stay in Ghana. What specifically would you like to do in Ghana?
In the clinical part of the study of medicine, the students have to complete four clinical electives. A clinical elective is an internship in a medical health facility, in which the students have contact to patients and learn about medical care. Each clinical elective lasts for one month. I plan to spend one of these four months in Ghana. Since my plans for later also include the organization “Doctors Without Borders”, I think that this clinical elective will provide me with an opportunity to have a look at the health system in third-world countries. There, I want to help in a hospital and, at the same time, get to know the culture and lifestyle in Ghana. I find the idea of helping people in a country like that, while foregoing my own personal safety, is fascinating and it represents a major challenge. It will be an unforgettable experience, which is sure to change my world view.
In addition, you are active as a buddy. What shape does your involvement take?
Study-Buddy is a program where exchange students, who study at the LMU via the Erasmus or the LMU Exchange Program, are assigned an LMU student. The LMU students are contact partners and help the exchange students with questions all about studying at the LMU, for example with tips for the exams or books for each subject. Outside of the university, we show the exchange students life in Munich. In addition, you can organize excursions with your buddy to show them the country. This semester, we have organized hiking trips and a number of cooking evenings to get to know the different cultures better.
In summary, I would say that one of the most important goals in my life is to help people. Maybe it sounds too unrealistic, but, in my opinion, realizing this goal causes incredible pleasure. As a medical student and later as a physician, I hope that I will have the chance to fulfill this dream.