When starting a medicine programme, your first three years are mostly spent in the lecture hall. But some medicine students at Maastricht University are spending their time a little bit differently, as they are responsible for helping out with kidney transplantations, gaining valuable experience in a clinical environment as kidneyracers.
Kidneyracers literally race from hospital to hospital to reach a helping hand with kidney transplantations. They are responsible for kidney perfusion machines and help with transplantations or collect data needed to improve future kidney transplantations. The team of kidneyracers consists of 30 medicine students in their second and third year. They set up the machines, collect and analyse biopsies and process other collected data on the functioning of the kidneys.
Being a kidneyracer is not for everyone, it takes great responsibility, efficient time management and an ability to identify risks. As in the real world, students experience what it is like to be ‘on call’ and learn how to communicate in the stressful world of the operating rooms. After applying during their first semester of the medicine programme, selected students are trained extensively for more than half a year before their first kidneyracer shift. Kidenyracers participate in the programme until their residency, when the workload becomes too large as shifts are usually two days per week and run for 24 hours. Additionally the kidneyracers handle all organizational and administrative tasks of the project under the supervision of transplantation coordinators, analysing and organizing all the collected data, arranging working schedules and communicating with the hospitals. Thanks to this the students do not only gain very valuable clinical experience, but also gain organizational skills. Maastricht UMC+’s key role as the main kidney transplantation hospital in the Netherlands also allows kidneyracers to pass through many different hospitals and transplantation departments, building a strong network in the field. These two years of being a kidneyracer give students invaluable experience for their future development in the field of medicine.