FROM THE COLLECTIONS
Providence to Padua
An American professor in Italy.
Richard M. Besdine, MD
On a Friday in December
of 2010, an Italian colleague at the University of Padua School of Medicine informed me that competitive grants, sponsored by an Italian regional Bank (Cassa Di Risparmia Di Venezia), were to be made available to non-Italian university faculty in all disciplines to teach courses in Padua during the academic year 2011-12. The only challenge was that proposals were due on Sunday…barely two days later.
Undaunted, I outlined a one-month course of four hours of daily lecture and class discussion titled "Fundamentals of Geriatric Medicine.” Mirabile dictu, two months later, I received notice of success. Included in the deal was the expectation that I give a public lecture during my stay, and of course I eagerly accepted. More about the lecture later.
My students were to be residents in geriatrics at varied levels of post-graduate training; it was uncertain how many residents would enroll in my course; I was told to expect 10 to 15. I then began to develop syllabi and slide sets to cover the most important topics in geriatrics, wrote course materials from May through early September, and on October 1, arrived in Padua with 20 flash drives loaded with lecture slides, exam questions, and references.
Not 15 but 35 residents and varying numbers of faculty began and finished what was to be an exciting, challenging Providence to Padua An American professor in Italy. and deeply satisfying month for me. Although the students were accustomed to the European-style of learning—that is, sitting at the feet of the professor—
we soon were spending increasing time in discussion. Still, lectures and working on test questions together were our dominant activity. Formal evaluation by the students was very positive. They particularly appreciated the opportunity to discuss challenging issues with an American professor.
Alpert Medical School