The optimistic bridge builder

Petri Kulmala does not like to think of the university and hospital as separate institutions. Cooperation and working together are important values for this Professor of Medical Education.

‘I think I am by nature an optimistic bridge builder,’ Petri Kulmala says with a smile. 

Kulmala has been working as a professor of medical education since the beginning of this year.

When he talks about bridge building, he means building cooperation.

‘Fortunately, we are finally moving from thinking inside of one’s own little bubble to understanding that all kinds of networks are important. In my opinion, we have been successful in creating an environment of working together in, for example, the national projects for developing the medical degree programme.’

The degree programme is being developed in cooperation with all education providers. 

‘The willpower and ambition to develop medical education are currently very positive and strong.’

Cooperation between the university and the university hospital is also particularly important.

‘I would like to think that, from the perspective of education and research, there are not even really two separate institutions – the hospital and the university – but rather that the university is all of us that work in the university hospital,’ says Kulmala.

More medical education research

As regards positivity, Kulmala aims to inspire people to see things as appropriate and meaningful.

‘Even if work assignments are not always pleasant, they can still be meaningful.’

Professor Kulmala goes on to talk about being a doctor, becoming a doctor and a doctor's career path.

‘This, more than any, is a profession where you develop and gain further training throughout your career. Specialist training is a central and large part of this same career path.’

According to Kulmala, high-quality education should be based on scientific education research.

‘The amount of medical education research carried out in Finland is notably low. Therefore, we have a positive challenge: how can we establish research into medical education as a strong field of research also in Finland? This would ensure that teaching is of high quality and is going in the right direction. I believe that this would benefit everyone: students, teachers, organisations and society as a whole, and above all the patient, who is at the centre of all this.’

New technology brings new opportunities

Kulmala sees the strengths of the University of Oulu to include not only technology, which is already in many ways being integrated into medical education and practice, but also multidisciplinarity.

‘Cross-disciplinary, multidisciplinary cooperation is needed, and research related to education could be one way of promoting this.’

As regards technology, Professor Kulmala emphasises that all medical faculties in Finland have their own strengths.

‘In the future, technology expertise will be an important trend that Oulu will focus on.’

New technology creates new opportunities.

‘Change is always possible. We can either build walls or we can build windmills that make use of the new,’ Kulmala points out.

Although the technology can be helpful, certain aspects of a doctor’s work do not change.

‘We still need to understand the illnesses and know how to treat people as human beings.’


Text and photo: Kati Valjus


Last updated: 1.11.2019