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Published: 2022-08-15

I want to show that their own wings carry

PROFILE Maria Sandström, senior physician and university lecturer in oncology in semester 7 of the medical program, has once again been awarded the rose of the semester by the students. We met Maria and asked about her views on teaching and how to conduct a successful education within the medical program.

Text: Heléne Andersson

Congratulations on the rose of the semester! How does it feel? 

- I get warm in my heart. This is credd to the whole clinic that sees the students and makes them feel welcome. It's not a one-man job, it's a collegial job," says Maria Sandström. 

Maria teaches oncology, which is the second largest subject in semester 7 of the medical program. She believes that it is important to use small means to make the students feel seen. 

- It's not the first time you've been awarded the rose of the semester, what do you do in teaching that you think the students appreciate? 
- I think they feel that we take the students seriously, that we always let the students grow, says Maria, who points out that it is everyone at the clinic who meets the students who has this approach. 
- Personally, I see it as working as a pilot, I show the way. Let them dare to fail and to try again, she continues. 

She herself remembers the feeling of being new and a little afraid, and therefore wants to give the students role models and support during their time at the oncologist. When students arrive at their oncology placement, students are assigned a supervisor, with whom they have at least two conversations during their placement. One conversation at the beginning and one at the end where they tie the knot. The conversations take place in a group of four-five students and the supervisor. The conversations are important, because there they get to put into words fears, feelings and share it with each other.

The climate is completely permissive 


She is clear about what kind of teacher she wants to be, and what she wants to convey. 
- I want to bounce the questions back to the students, ask them how they would do it. I don't just want to stand and preach, but I want to show that their own wings carry, says Maria, who believes that the climate should be completely permissive.

Furthermore, Maria says that she has a scientific mindset, but that she also wants to bring in the pedagogical mindset. She has taken some courses via UPL and received some tips. 
- I am interested in teaching and want to develop it. I don't want to stagnate, says Maria. 


Already during her own studies, there was an interest in teaching, something she took note of by becoming a teaching assistant at the histologist. After that, she taught some in PU (professional development, ed. note). After a while, she still felt that she wanted to teach her own subject, oncology. 

-I have always thought about having teaching as part of my work, so it became natural to develop as a teacher, says Maria. 


Creates good future colleagues 
So how to conduct a successful education in the medical program? For Maria, the answer comes as quickly as obviously. 
- See the students, rely on their own competence. Coax out knowledge instead of sticking it on them. Never stagnate. Take courses, read educational PEK, she said. 


What drives Maria in her role is that she thinks it is fun to see how she contributes to the students' development. 
- You're involved in creating good colleagues, she says. 
In addition to her role as senior lecturer, Maria also works clinically, as well as researches cancer. Her project HALO study is a brain tumor project where the goal is, among other things, to investigate whether treatments can be evaluated faster and more clearly compared to today. 
She also has another research project underway with a colleague dealing with thyroid cancer. 
- We plan to go through all our treated patients to increase our knowledge of those who have suffered relapses and see if, for example, we should follow them longer or treat them differently, says Maria. 


Curiosity as an important characteristic 
The students that Maria meets are well on their way to becoming doctors, perhaps doing research or teaching. 
- What tips would you like to send them along the way? 
- See the big picture. Number 1 is to become a good clinician, who is curious, says Maria. 
But she also wants them to bring in always having a research perspective in their work. 
- Be so curious about the patients that you want to do research, says Maria. 
In addition to curiosity, Maria also wants to emphasize the importance of having a teaching mindset in everything they do, regardless of whether they meet students, colleagues or patients. 
-Everyone grows from being met by a good pedagogy, says Maria. 
Personally, all three parts have felt interesting to Maria, who is driven by doing things that are fun and pleasurable. Of course, also to be around positive colleagues. 
Because it may be extra important to highlight the importance of positive colleagues, permissive climate and to dare to have fun at work, in a profession that is so strongly associated with darkness, treatments and death. So how do you deal with the dark and the hard? 
- Honestly, it probably doesn't suit everyone. But we dwell and talk to each other," she explains. 
When Maria herself was a resident doctor, she was involved in starting up BALINT groups, a forum where people talk in groups about difficult things. (BALINT groups are named after psychoanalyst Michael Balint who allowed people to discuss difficult patient cases in groups and thus both become good listeners and find support in each other, editor's note). 
- In these groups, they get to bare themselves, but also learn from each other, Maria says. 
At the clinic, the resident doctors still have conversations with a counselor once a month to talk and ventilate. 


To be able to do the hard part 
Maria believes that even though it is sometimes heavy and difficult, you can do your very best and that it is an important work they do. 
- I want to let the students realize that it is an honor to be part of a patient's cancer journey. If no one else can cope, we can cope, she says. 
For many cancer patients, doctors, nurses and assistant nurses are important.   
- We doctors are of course important because we are there to make decisions about and prescribe treatment, says Maria, who believes that the nurses and assistant nurses are probably most important to patients because they work so closely with patients on a daily basis. 


The dream of an orangery 
Time outside of work is spent with the children and with keeping the body moving (preferably outdoors all seasons). 
Otherwise, Maria likes to renovate old houses and to work in the garden. 
- I have an old Västerbotten farm, so it requires a lot of maintenance, laughs Maria, who likes to look out over the garden. 
- I dream of an orangery, Maria concludes. 
 

Facts

Title: Senior lecturer, senior physician, qualified teacher and course coordinator/examiner Clinical course 2 
Year at the University: PhD 2009 
Family: Three children of 23, 21, 15 years. Cohabiting partner/special partner. 
Favorite artist(s): Ane Brun, Nils Landgren 
Preferably watching: The garden, film (preferably at the People's Cinema), opera 
Currently reading: Renegades by Klas Östergren 
Favorite food: Pasta with shrimp