Medicine and Psychology at NSU: An interview with Andrey Pokrovsky

As part of the second stage of construction of a world-class campus for Novosibirsk State University, a new education and science building is planned for a relatively new University Department, the V. Zelman Institute of Medicine and Psychology (ZIMP). We talked with the Director of the Institute, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Doctor of Medical Sciences Andrey Pokrovsky about what problems the new building will address and what are the prospects for medical education at the University.

— Andrey Georgievich, why is the University building a new medical education building? 

Although we are one of the youngest Departments at NSU, the results of our work are recognized by industry experts and researchers who monitor and publish University quality of education ratings. The Institute of Medicine and Psychology has one serious problem, an acute shortage of space for conducting classes in basic disciplines (biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, anatomy and pathology), especially for the first year students. This means we have to limit the enrollment of students and rent premises at SB RAS research institutes. So, the construction of a new building is primarily targeted at supporting the educational process. A second aspect of the construction will be to build several research units related to various modern medicine fields including pharmaceutical research. This will make it possible to launch a new "Pharmacy" specialization, something we have planned for a very long time but have been unable to bring to life. The construction will allow us to increase the student enrollment, including foreigners, and to expand the areas of study since there is a need for this. 

— Why is it necessary to increase enrollment in the medical field? 

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that the healthcare system in Russia is at a high level. We were one of only a few countries that was able to make its own effective vaccines and conduct a fairly active vaccination campaign, including at the NSU Medical Center. Therefore, the development of the medical field seems to me one of the most promising. Pharmacy, which I mentioned earlier, is one of the most important industries today. We still need to develop our own medicines and train specialists who will conduct fundamental and clinical research and work in production. The primary objective for "Pharmacy" in the future is to train specialists with research experience. 

— Is it true that NSU will continue teaching medical sciences to students from other countries? 

Yes. This year we graduated the first English-speaking medical specialists from abroad. Today, 30% of students at the Institute are foreigners. We are not going to stop there. Although the situation has, of course, fundamentally changed, I still fully support the position of our President that was presented at SPIEF, that Russia should not be closed. Medicine is a field that provides opportunities to develop our contacts with other countries. 

— Andrei Georgievich, what other changes in the educational process will the construction of a new building lead to? 

Having enough specially equipped rooms will make it possible for students of all levels of education to study and engage in science. First and second year students will master basic disciplines in classrooms through workshops. Graduate students (this year NSU opened postgraduate studies in general medicine and psychology) will be able to engage in research, including pharmacological research, in specialized laboratories. Residents and senior students will develop their practical skills in the simulation center and operating room that will be as close as possible to a real one. In addition, it should be emphasized that no medical activities are planned for the building. It will be a completely educational and scientific building so that we can focus on training high level specialists and nurture them to become Candidates of medical sciences. Students will develop a number of practical skills at NSU’s ZIMP. 

— How will these changes affect the relationship of employers to graduates? Will graduates be more in demand? 

There are several categories of medical organizations in Novosibirsk that are interested in well-trained personnel and regularly turn to the University administration and to me personally with a request to promote them to our graduates. The first is the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The second are Ministry of Health Centers such as the National Medical Research Center Meshalkin, Tsivyan Research Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics, and the Federal Center for Neurosurgery. The third group of medical organizations interested in our graduates are clinics and hospitals in the Novosibirsk region that the University is cooperating with based on support from the regional government. Finally, private clinics are also turning to the University. Of course, it was difficult to find jobs immediately for the first graduates of what was then just a Medical Department. There was some wariness and distrust, but today graduates of the V. Zelman Institute of Medicine and Psychology quickly find opportunities for building a career both in science and as a medical practitioner.

Earlier we talked about the concept of new NSU campus.

Author: Alina Ershova, NSU Press Service