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Vital Signs

Teleconference connects collaborators

Can you hear us?" Pause. "Can you hear us?" Finally, the Albanian translator, whom everyone in the DHMC conference room could see on the television screen in front of them, replied, "Yes, we can hear you. Can you hear us?" So began the first telemedicine conference between DMS and Kosova's only medical school, at the University of Prishtina.

Though the two schools have been collaborating and hosting each other's students and faculty (in the flesh) for several years now, the December teleconference marked a major advance in the collaboration. For the first time, many representatives from each institution were able to sit (virtually) face-toface to ask questions of each other and exchange ideas, without taking the time to cross an ocean. Dr. David Nierenberg, senior associate dean for medical education at DMS, gave the main presentation, outlining the structure, approach, and goals of the DMS curriculum and of U.S. medical education in general, which differs greatly from the Kosovar system.

The first two years of medical school at DMS are primarily in the classroom, while the last two are primarily clinical. But in Kosova, the curriculum is lecture-based "right up until graduation," explains Dr. Ellis Rolett, an emeritus professor at DMS who has visited the Prishtina school several times and was one of the participants in the teleconference. "Probably the first time they get hands-on experience with a patient is when they are in their . . . internship."

In the second teleconference, which took place in late February, Prishtina medical school administrators presented an overview of their curriculum in an effort to gain feedback from Nierenberg and others who have made DMS a national leader in medical education.

"If this works," says Dr. James Strickler, also an emeritus professor, who helped organize the teleconferences, "maybe we'll try this with some other medical schools."


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