Ami Febriza, a PhD candidate from the Faculty of Medicine, Hasanuddin University in Indonesia, has recently arrived in the Netherlands on a 3 month visit to the Julius Centre as part of her ‘sandwich’ programme. Her research is mainly focused on herbal treatment in infection, specifically the effects of curcumin on gene expression. She will be consulting her manuscript with Dr. Cuno Uiterwaal and Dr. Joyce Browne and is hoping to publish.
She is also a participant of the HEALTH-I project in Indonesia. We recently carried out an interview with Ami, along with HEALTH-I tutor Dian Sidik (Academic Medical Centre, Amsterdam), about how the HEALTH-I project is going.
What were your motivations to participate in the HEALTH-I project? Ami: A friend of mine recommended it to me actually! She told me to have a look at this project. When I saw the learning outcomes of HEALTH-I, I immediately felt that I needed the skills. Furthermore, because I am also a lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Muhammadiyah Makassar, I want to be able to teach and pass on these skills to my students.
What is your experience so far?
Ami: I learnt a lot from these courses. The content is either topics I usually do not encounter or not familiar with at all. For example, in the HEALTH-I project they go into much greater depth in statistics compared to when I did statistics in my bachelors or even master’s degree, particularly with regards to using the R programme. The learning material is vast and can be difficult to grasp, especially since I am already very busy with teaching and trying to complete my PhD. In fact, time management is one of the challenges we talk about in our face-to-face meetings. Despite the difficulty of the courses, I do find the HEALTH-I project very exciting, and it is good to learn so much in great depth. I also find it very useful to do online courses in this digital era as it allows for more flexibility.
How do you hope to use the experience in the future?
Ami: I would like to use my experience to develop my research and also to help my students. I hope to create something similar – that is, a similar online learning platform – geared towards bachelors students because, as I said earlier, it is very useful doing online courses.
Dian, what is your opinion from a tutor’s perspective?
Dian: The biggest challenge for me as a tutor is to bring everyone together for the face-to-face meetings, since we have at least six active students per course. What makes it more challenging is that even though all students have the same basic understanding of, say, R programming, there is variation in the level of understanding beyond the basics among the students. It can be difficult to make sure everyone has caught up. However, I do believe that the HEALTH-I project can be very beneficial, especially for students who can manage their time and are highly motivated.