Prof. D. Ramašauskaitė: ‘Today Students Are Even More Motivated Than Before'

Prof. D. Ramašauskaitė: ‘Today Students Are Even More Motivated Than Before'

Sukurta: 19 January 2022

prof diana ramasauskaite004A scientist, lecturer, physician-practician, committee member of national societies and international organisations, student research curator, who finds time for hobbies in an intensive working week. How does she manage everything? “There is much more!”, says Prof. Diana Ramašauskaitė, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Santaros Clinics, laughing.

Her significant work, professionalism, substantial contribution to studies, devotion to knowledge transfer to young specialists and contagious joyfulness did not go unnoticed by academic community of Vilnius University (VU). During a solemn annual meeting of the VU Senate titled “Bidding Farewell to 2021”, the professor was awarded a prize for the best lecturer of the Medical Faculty 2021.

You were elected the best lecturer of the Faculty of Medicine 2021. Was this evaluation a surprise or, on the contrary, something you were expecting? What does this evaluation mean to you?
I did not expect it, surely. I think that most lecturers of the Faculty of Medicine are really excellent. I often hear good things about them. Therefore, this evaluation was a true surprise – I do not think I am special.
I am certainly delighted for being noticed, for appreciation of work I have been doing. After all, work is a big part of our life. People, like me, who teach clinical subjects, have to “organise their life” very well because lecturing and practice are inseparable. So, when you reach highs in the latter area, it is great that my educational activities have also been noticed and evaluated.

Naturally, a question arises – if you are a good practician, does this mean that you will be a good teacher? In other words, can you put an equality sign between a good physician and a good lecturer?
No way. Like not every good lecturer can be a good practician. First, you probably have to make a decision on what you want in your life and move in that direction. I started from practice and later the desire to share my knowledge with others came.
And now, you have been lecturing for 16 years...
My journey of lecturing was not quite a usual one. Most medics, actually, start from lecturing. For instance, a young student of residency studies is at the same time involved in the process of studies and also starts practicing lecturing. If we offered a 40-year old physician to come and give some lectures to students, then ... (she starts laughing) This doesn’t sound tempting. Besides, even students have increasingly higher requirements, they are much smarter and educated. For this reason, a lecturer has to be well-prepared. It is not that you have a sleep and do lecturing! If you have no plan, you can hardly expect that a lecture will go well.
I often hear colleagues complaining that it is difficult to attract people, who do practical work, to come to lecture. Recently, study programmes and study schedules have changed, therefore, some subjects overlap. Last year, we had the third-year and fourth-year students which resulted in double workload. We had to look for reinforcement. Some colleagues started lecturing and they like it and continue doing that. Others are reluctant. But if you do not try, you cannot know whether you will like it.

How students have changed, if you compare the time when you started lecturing and the present days? Have you noticed any changes in motivation, desire to know and learn?
Students of the Faculty of Medicine have probably always been very motivated. Particularly those, who come to study clinical subjects. Some of them already know the specialty they will choose after graduation. Such people are extremely motivated. They read extra materials, engage in additional activities, do research which allows them to get involved in the area of their desired specialty.
Still, if I had to compare the two groups, present-day students have much more motivation than before. In addition, there is much more competition among the students. It was not typical in early days. Sometimes it is good but sometimes severe. In such cases we have to interfere. Competition, definitely, forces to try harder, put more effort and learn better.
Eventually, I notice that although groups are very different, there are some where students do not know much about each other. For example, if somebody is absent and I ask, whether anybody knows what happened, in often cases, nobody knows anything. Before, students would themselves tell what happened, why, etc. There is less unity in groups. This is perhaps because of the competition I have mentioned. There are fewer positions in residency studies than the number of graduates of medical studies.

You devote a lot of time to students’ engagement in research activities. Why is it important to you?
Most students are highly motivated. There are cases when people have a considerable interest in studies but their average of grades is lower than, for instance, 9.5. When such student applies for residency studies, I want to give such a student as many additional points as possible which are brought from practice and research activities. If you see that a student has a great desire, then you think, why shouldn’t you help them?
Some students get involved, write articles and carry out research. There are some students who being in their sixth year of studies declare that obstetrics and gynaecology is not for them. This is also all right. Such student has accumulated some knowledge and will be aware that during their pregnancy women may be ill with other diseases as well. Sometimes, even if a pregnant woman breaks her leg, she is first examined by an obstetrician–gynaecologist...
I am now of age when my first students have grown up. Soon a doctoral thesis is to be defended by Ms Greta Balčiūnienė. She is my former student who started her first research with me. I am delighted to see a person growing, becoming an independent researcher and an excellent specialist.

You have worked in the Institute of Clinical Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine, the Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as well as the Clinic of Cardiovascular Diseases. You also work in … the Institute of English, Romance and Classical Studies of the Faculty of Philology.
I have participated in a project carried out by this institute in cooperation with Uppsala University in Sweden and Maynooth University in Ireland. We started our cooperation about five years ago, after the authors of the project contacted the Faculty of Medicine looking for somebody who would be interested in the subject of motherhood. Since I work for the Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I had a feeling that I had to help my colleagues.
We started a joint study with a doctoral student Rūta Morkūnienė and a psychologist of our hospital on psychological state of women who have given birth early compared to physical state of new-borns (from 24th to 32nd week and from 32nd to 36th week). We will try to compare the results we get with the data of research carried out by Uppsala University.

While listening to you, I am trying to put everything in places in my head – you give lectures, do your practical work, devote some time to curate students’ research activities, take part in project activities, are a member of committees in international organisations. How do you manage to combine everything?
That is not all! (she laughs) I have been the president of the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians for six years. You can take this position only two terms of office, three years each. So my time in this office is coming to an end. But as my family says, this is, probably, not the end, something new will emerge!
I think you have to plan everything very well. If you see that one of activities might be affected in a negative sense, then you have to make decision, which of them is more important and to stop doing something. I also teach my young colleagues that they have to decide what is more important in this particular stage of life. Other activities may be put aside. You can later come back to them… or not because you also have to find time to have a good rest.

Do you have time for hobbies? What activities help you regain your energy after an intensive working day or week?
I would like to have more but I have what I have. My biggest hobby is travelling. I and my colleague go to a remote country once a year. I have calculated that I have visited more than 56 countries in four continents. Countries in Asia, South America, Central America… I have been to most countries in Europe and have reserved the ones I have not visited for some later time when I am older and cannot travel far (she laughs).
I was very upset when we could not go to the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics which had to be held in Australia last October. My Australia was in Vilnius with a computer on my lap. The congress was held online.

Imagine that you have a ticket and can go on a travel to one of the countries you have already visited. Which country would it be?
I always want to go to Italy! I go there once a year and could, probably, go there again and again! I like Italian nature, people, climate and food – everything. Speaking of more remote countries... Everywhere, I would probably like to return to every country I have been to but as long as there are places I have not visited, I would like to use that ticket to go to a new destination.