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Page updated 25.10.2022

Artificial intelligence skills become part of medical school with the help of a new study unit

The importance of technology as part of a doctor's work is constantly growing. Turku University of Applied Sciences has been involved in building a study unit related to artificial intelligence for medical students as part of the international AIIS – Artificial Intelligence, Innovation & Society, the future of medicine project.

Text: Siiri Welling 

– There is no teaching related to artificial intelligence in most European universities for medical students. However, it is already a significant technology that an increasing number of doctors is working with, says Teppo Saarenpää, Senior Lecturer at Turku University of Applied Sciences. 

The study unit is worth a total of three credits, and its artificial intelligence part contains issues from six different areas. The sub-areas introduce artificial intelligence and machine learning, introduce various expert systems and present the possibilities of machine learning in the healthcare sector. The study units have been designed based on surveys made to universities in different countries. 

– In the project, a survey was conducted to find out which topics should be covered in the course. The survey was answered by representatives of medical faculties and students from eight European countries. The study package also includes a section on soft skills, i.e., various communication skills, and a practical section, where learned artificial intelligence issues are applied to a pre-defined task in international small groups, says Saarenpää. 

The first learning experience will take place in October 

Artificial intelligence can help interpret various medical results and go through a large mass of data quickly. Courses are already organized in Finnish higher education institutions to teach artificial intelligence and various medical artificial intelligence applications. However, artificial intelligence and topics are presented in a scattered manner or not at all at the European level, which is why a comprehensive educational package on artificial intelligence is needed. 

The observations and teaching units are related to the international AIIS – Artificial Intelligence, Innovation & Society, the future of medicine project, which started at the end of 2020. A recent report published by the project states that only a few European countries, such as the Nordic countries, Belgium and the Netherlands, have the necessary digital skills and appropriate education and lifelong learning systems. However, lifelong learning must be significantly strengthened to maintain the capacity to acquire new skills in the future. 

The learning units have been published on the international project's own website . As part of the project, the University of Turku will organize the first learning experience in October, which will deal with artificial intelligence and the soft skills of the medical profession, such as empathy, interaction and ethics. The course starting on 17 October will be implemented online on the platform developed by Turku University of Applied Sciences. 

The AIIS project is coordinated by the University of Salamanca in Spain. From Finland, Turku University of Applied Sciences and the University of Turku participate in the project. In addition to this, two other universities from Europe and three companies participate in the project. Funding of just under a million euros has been received from Erasmus. At Turku University of Applied Sciences, the Health Technology Research Group is responsible for the project. The AIIS project ends in October next year. 

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