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Impressive Numbers: Results of the Medical Entrance Exam and Info about the New Medical Engineering Program

Over half of the students accepted to the medical program are from Upper Austria.

v.l.: JKU-Forscherin Anna Stadler, StuKo-Vorsitzender Werner Baumgartner, Landesrätin Christine Haberlander, JKU-Rektor Meinhard Lukas
v.l.: JKU-Forscherin Anna Stadler, StuKo-Vorsitzender Werner Baumgartner, Landesrätin Christine Haberlander, JKU-Rektor Meinhard Lukas

The interest to study medicine at the Johannes Kepler University Linz has never been greater and now the admission test scores are in. For those who were not accepted to the medical degree program this year, the new Medical Engineering program provides an attractive alternative.

The number of prospective students was impressive: 1,316 people registered to take the test in Linz; 1,056 people actually took the exam. Today, the prospective students will get the results and find out if they are now one step closer to their career goals as a physician.    

The 2019 class consists of 105 women (58.33%) and 75 men (41.67%). The majority of students (57.2%) are from Upper Austria. Last year, 44.4% of the students came from Upper Austria. 135 Austrians were awarded spots in the program (103 of those from Upper Austria), and 45 students from countries outside of Austria were accepted to the program; 25% of those 45 students are from the neighboring country of Germany.
A survey taken on the test day showed that this year, approximately 39% of the test-takers were taking the exam for a second time. In previous years as well, approximately one-third of the test-takers were repeating the exam to try and get a spot in the program.

Upper Austrian Applicants Place Well
The Upper Austrian applicants were not only well represented this year in quantitative terms, they also scored well on the examination: 24 Upper Austrians are among the top 30 highest scores. 

Mag. Christine Haberlander, Deputy Governor and state official for Health, remarked: "We are very pleased that a high number of prospective applicants are from Upper Austria. We know from experience that the majority of students stay in the place where they graduate. This shows that in the medium-term, the Faculty of Medicine will make a very sustainable contribution to securing the next generation of doctors for our region. As a state education councilor, I am also particularly pleased that the Upper Austrian applicants scored above-average on the test, confirming excellent education at our schools."

JKU Rector Meinhard Lukas remarked: "I would like to congratulate the 180 new students. They are about to embark on an exciting new phase in their lives, beginning with medical studies at the JKU’s Faculty of Medicine. I am also aware, however, that today many highly motivated and talented young people will be very disappointed not to have been accepted to the program. We believe that the new Medical Engineering program will provide them with an exciting alternative to pursue studies at the interface between medicine and technology."

By focusing on technology, the JKU is leading the way in Austria. In the long term, the combination of expertise in engineering and base-knowledge education in human medicine will change and advance the medical profession.

New "Medical Engineering" Degree Program
Medical technology is making dynamic strides. As medical professions become more diverse, the technological components become more important. In the coming semester, the Medical Engineering program will provide new opportunities for young people who are interested in medicine. Researchers and faculty members at both the Linz Institute of Technology (LIT) and at the Faculty of Medicine will come together and pool their expertise.

Werner Baumgartner, chairman of the studies commission for Medical Engineering, added: "This exciting program paves the way to a variety of promising professional fields. Qualified graduates can pursue advanced studies in fascinating specialized fields such as prosthetics, imaging diagnostics, surgical robot technology, or developing artificial organs."

The Bachelor’s degree program in Medical Engineering focuses on the base-knowledge education required for interdisciplinary work in medicine, engineering, and science at the crossroads of medicine and engineering. Students can acquire specialized education in one of many areas of specialization, applying real-world practices as part of their final Bachelor's thesis. Medical engineering is a very broad field and students have many individual options to specialize and learn more in-depth at an early stage. Students learn the technical language used in both worlds.

Education in mathematics, mechanics, electronics, computer science, chemistry and material sciences as well as modelling and simulation is supplemented with base-knowledge education in medicine. Starting in the first semester, students work actively on projects, acquiring skills such as working effectively in a team environment and honing problem-solving skills.

Interdisciplinary Approach
Faculty members at both the JKU Faculty of Medicine and at the Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences have come together to create joint courses – such as device and software development, materials science, nanotechnology and robotics - that will be taught by both medical professionals as well as by engineers and scientists. As the university collaborates closely with a number of competence centers, industrial companies as well as with the Kepler University Hospital, students acquire a hands-on, real-world approach throughout their studies.

Pre-registration enrollment for the Medical Engineering program is now in the three-digit range. The final number of students will be announced in November. If a student gets in to the medical degree program at a future date, medical courses completed as part of the Medical Engineering program can also be counted towards the medical degree program.

Prof. Baumgartner added: "Graduates can pursue a variety of professions such as designing safety devices, assistive systems or wearable technologies - in other words, in areas that involve close interaction between man and machine."

Over 70 departments and institutes at the JKU currently conduct research in the field of medicine or in medically-related fields.   

Fundamental Research with Real-World Applications
The program contains base-knowledge education as well as real-world applications. The first semester curriculum for the Medical Engineering program requires completing an internship in which students practice what they have learned in the classroom, such as building simple medical devices like ECGs (to record cardiac activity), pulse oximeters (to measure pulse and oxygen saturation) and photometers (for urine tests, for example).              

Diagnostic Research Example: New Pulmonary Function Test
Medicine aims to improve a patient’s quality of life. A JKU research project by DI Anna Theresia Stadler shows just how technical approaches can be used to help and support recognizing, preventing, monitoring, treating, and potentially alleviating diseases.

In Austria, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third most common cause of death, affecting one in four over the age of forty. Those who have COPD have an inflamed respiratory tract and breathing becomes especially difficult. In addition to prevention, early diagnosis would be very important. Whereas monitoring blood pressure routine, pulmonary function testing at a pharmacy, at home, at a doctor’s office, or at an outpatient clinic is not yet standard because the costs are comparatively high and there is a lack of trained professionals.

JKU researcher Anna Theresia Stadler remarked, "Our project involves creating an easy-to-use, low-cost pulmonary function test. The sensor is based on an optical measuring principle and consists of an LED, a light fiber and a photodiode. The fiber is made of silicone, an inexpensive material that is easy to clean."

After breathing sharply into the device, a trained professional looks at the forced vital capacity, the exhaled volume after one second, and then combines the two aspects. The results are very important when it comes to diagnosing chronic pulmonary disorders. The findings are then compared to reference findings. Stadler added: "If the results are in a critical range, the patient will be sent to see a pulmonary specialist."

NEWS 05.08.2019

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