dr. O.M. Dekkers

"As a doctor, where do I encounter medical research?" "What does this research mean to my patients?" "How can I make this research useful?" These are relevant questions for Olaf Dekkers and his students. According to his students Olaf Dekkers explains things in a clear and engaging way, but his goals for the lessons are much more than that. He wants to stimulate his students to think actively and be enthusiastic about research and he teaches them how to interpret results from research, put those results into context, and present them with different views on how to perceive research data.

The thought process is more important than the theory. He wants to involve students in this process to show them how easy it is to go in the wrong direction, and learn to ask critical questions about the articles in well-respected research journals. For example, a test which should be a good predictor of breast cancer, does not appear, on closer inspection, to be so clear cut. Together with the students, he tries to establish why the authors of the article value this prediction. He encourages them to ask questions about publications from major pharmaceutical companies: "Does this medication fulfil a real need, is this need relevant to patients?"

His way of teaching is well-considered and often creates a discrepancy between his own material and the slides using unusual pictures, such as a cartoon depicting a pregnant man, to help explain the material and to make it more memorable. A slide never contains exactly what he is saying, but is always complementary. The lectures are very interactive, and he often asks students: "What do you think?" He wants to stimulate students so that they reach their moment of understanding. When talking about absolute and relative risks with students, he uses metaphors of bungee jumps or divorces as examples. "What is the likelihood of divorce amongst newlyweds?" His goal is to get students to enjoy thinking about research and be motivated to read a scientific articles.