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Published: 2022-05-30

The interest in people led to the medical profession

PROFILE Malin Sjöström works as a senior lecturer in general medicine with a location in Östersund. She has just taken her docentship and is looking forward to the new medical school and her new exciting research idea.

Text: Heléne Andersson

Congratulations to the docentship! How does it feel now?

- Very good! It's nice to have achieved that goal and be done," says Malin.

Malin defended her thesis in 2014 and has since worked as a district doctor in Jämtland/Härjedalen. She began researching in 2009 when she took the Basic Research Methodology for Doctors in the Northern Region course.

"I got into the research project Tä led by Professor Eva Samuelsson at Family Medicine. There, we have developed digital treatment programs for urine leakage, with a focus on pelvic floor training, says Malin.

Malin defended her thesis in that particular project in 2014, but has continued within the project and at the same time worked a lot clinically during the time. For the past year, Malin has been working as a lecturer, after a few years of participating more and more in teaching at the medical program, where she teaches general medicine in semesters 5, 6, 8 and 11.

I guess I'm quite curious as a person.

In recent years, Malin has begun to conduct her own research.

"Eleven years ago, there was an outbreak of Cryptosporidium Hominis in Östersund. Colleagues have started to do surveys into how many people fell ill and followed up on what long-term symptoms there are, says Malin.

Malin has taken over the main responsibility for the research project and now has a doctoral student to help her. Last year there was a 10-year follow-up so now they have a lot of material to analyze. In addition to this, Malin remains as assistant supervisor in the research project TÄ and is also assistant supervisor to a doctoral student who is researching the infirmarion model in northern Sweden.

Another research project that Malin is involved in is a project called Healthy Doctors, which is led by Emma Hagqvist, Associate Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at KI. It is a major project, both with national and international cooperation.

"It's about examining the doctor's health and work environment," Malin explains.

There will be a lot of research, and the inspiration to start research came from his colleague Mikael Lilja, who spoke warmly about the research course that Malin attended.

- I guess I'm quite curious as a person. I like these research conversations and reasoning, and twisting and turning things. What do we know, and what don't we know? I like to write, it's a way to get an outlet for something, Malin explains.

Combines research with clinic jobs
Malin has many doctors in her family, and perhaps that is why it became that path for her as well.

"It was a career you envisioned. I've always been interested in people and how the human body works. I've been fascinated by that," says Malin.

Exciting studies and a varied profession were also parts that attracted the medical profession because it could lead to many different specializations, despite the same education.

Luxurious service to get on with all the parts

- Right now, the funniest thing is that there is such variety. As a lecturer, to have the parts that involve work clinically and have patients, and to teach and research. It is a luxurious service to be able to keep up with all the parts. Not having to give up any part, says Malin.

Malin sees the biggest challenges as the flip side of the same coin. She believes that it can get a little fragmented when you have to have many different balls in the air.

"You have to be able to take down and focus on the different parts in turn," Malin explains.

This is what the future plans look like
Malin has a vision of where she wants to be in ten years.

"I hope I continue to work and enjoy all these different parts. I hope that I have the funds and started a new line of research, that I have a new project in motion and expand it by acquiring doctoral students and postdocs.

Furthermore, Malin says that she hopes that things go well for those she supervises today, that she helped them in the finish.

"Then I hope I can continue to be a reasonably good clinician. It will also be exciting to be part of the new 6-year medical school, where General Medicine will have a greater role, says Malin.

Today, students study General Medicine in semesters 5,6,8,11 in Umeå, and 6,8,11 in Östersund. The difference will be that General Medicine will be taught in semesters 5,6,8 and 12, and that there will be more weeks, where the number of weeks that students will go on clinical practice has doubled.

- There will be requirements for clinical supervisors. But we have a good director of studies at General Medicine, Lotta Harnevik. She has good thoughts of structuring and making it work, says Malin, who sees it as a great chance that students will come out and see General Medicine.

"This may lead to more people choosing to specialise in the subject and to better staffing and care in the future," Malin explains.

Malin is thus developing her own research idea, where she has made contacts, formed a group and submitted applications to apply for funding. What the research is about is so far secret.

- We'll have to take that next time, says Malin and laughs.

Dare to try
In her spare time, Malin likes to be in the forest and on the mountain. She skis a lot, both crosswise and crosswise, and runs a lot.

- I also enjoy reading books, all sorts of things. High and low, says Malin.

When asked what tip she would like to give other young scientists, the answer comes quickly.

- Dare to try! It's fun and it may not be as complicated as it seems initially.


Malin Sjöström
Associate professor, consultant (attending) physician

Facts about Malin

Name: Malin Sjöström 
Age: 48 
Family: Husband and three teenage daughters of 20, 18, 16 years old, and a dog. 
This makes me happy: Be outside. I am happy when I´m on the mountain. 
Reading right now: The Lighthouse Keepers by Emma Stonex 
Preferably watching: Netflix series. Last we watched Borgen, a Danish series. I'm not that picky! 
Preferably listens to: Likes when it's quiet. Otherwise, I mostly listen to Summer Talk and Winter Talk. With teenage children, it also becomes what happens to be played by others in the family.