Accreditation Standards

 
 
The medical universities of Austria in Vienna, Graz, and Innsbruck have a collective mission to provide outstanding patient care. In addition, these three medical universities, each of which also includes a dental school, are considered to be the top-tier institutions for student education and resident training within the country. Most important, they are obliged to sponsor academic careers and conduct research and research training that finally should lead to better health for the public. All in all, they pursue complex tasks and compete with universities and institutions worldwide in areas such as the following:
 

 

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  • Expansion of the fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems;
  • Reduction of the burdens of disease and disability;
  • Improvement and development of new strategies for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease;
  • Assurance of a continuing cadre of outstanding clinicians and scientists for future advances.
In addition to reading Sabine Herlitschka's excellent report on the new medical universities in Austria, the Medical University of Graz in particular, I asked Martin Tonko, PhD/MAS (KM), head of science and knowledge management at the Medical University of Innsbruck, for advice concerning the Medical University of Innsbruck's specific perspectives. He noted as follows:
As stated by Dr. Herlitschka in this issue (New Medical Universities in Austria—The Youngest Universities in Europe), all three medical faculties in Austria became independent medical universities by the beginning of 2004.
In spite of the fact that InnsbruckMedicalUniversity is a very young spin-off, it builds upon a centuries-old tradition reflected in its world-renowned expertise in medical care, research, and teaching. Based on this tradition and expertise, we are now actively reshaping our internal organizational structure to become one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Being actively involved in international networks, with strong participation in the Framework Programmes (FP4, 5, and 6) of the European Commission, and being partners in the EUROLIFE network, the researchers at Innsbruck Medical University are connected to scientists worldwide and are actively exchanging know-how and experience. InnsbruckMedicalUniversity now wants to take this opportunity to start or to reintensify contacts with all Austrian researchers in the life sciences in the United States—on one hand, for them to think about possible collaborations, and on the other, to think about possible future careers at InnsbruckMedicalUniversity. For this, the Office for Science and Knowledge Management (OSKM) at InnsbruckMedicalUniversity wants to establish a close connection with the Office for Science and Technology.
 
 
The newly established OSKM is responsible for the following areas
 
  • Intellectual Capital Report
  • Grants Consulting and Management
  • National and International Scientific Relations
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Spin-offs
    Fund-raising
As the research activities at InnsbruckMedicalUniversity lead to publications, grant applications, scientific relations, patents, and deals with the industry, or to spin-offs, the OSKM has all the necessary data and information for the annual Intellectual Capital Report (ICR) at hand. Our internal knowledge base and the ICR serve then as the basis for new grant applications, collaborations, and fund-raising activities. In IPR, technology transfer, and spin-off issues, the OSKM is closely collaborating with the founding center, CAST, and the competence center, KMT. In grants issues, OSKM cooperates with the Office for European Projects (BEP), and the project service office, p.s.b. of the University of Innsbruck.
 
For further information, please contact
Martin Tonko, PhD/MAS (KM)
Head of Science and Knowledge Management
InnsbruckMedicalUniversity
Rectorate
Christoph-Probst-Platz 1
A-6020 Innsbruck
Tel: +43-512-507-3020
Mobile: +43(0)6991-507-3020
Fax: +43(0)512 507 2995
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Despite all the efforts by Austria, it is well known that Europe will lack about 500,000 clinicians and researchers by 2010 (Philippe Busquin, European Union research commissar, in Brussels, May 27, 2003) particularly due to the fact that academicians who are expensively educated and highly trained in Europe are attracted by better job opportunities in the United States and stay there permanently. At first sight, this fact is generally considered not only a huge loss of human resources, but also a severe loss for European research endeavors, also affecting Austria. Yet it seems that this unsought brain drain from the European countries could be converted into a brain gain for Europe.
 
A fundamental key for each individual European university and country, respectively, toward achieving its return on investment is to stay in contact with successful former students, residents, researchers, faculty, and clinicians as their supportive alumni, international collaborators, and highly qualified competitors, instead of lacking adequate job opportunities for these flexible individuals. In that respect, the networking platforms OST and ASCINA have developed an excellent and important tool for Austria that could help to convert the brain drain into an Austrian brain gain.
 
Also facing exploding health-care costs, the three new medical universities of Austria will need more than their autonomy. Economic circumstances, including funding of medical and dental research, might motivate them to recruit individuals who have been successfully performing within the American system, which has a long tradition of evaluating and standardizing processes resulting finally in efficient reorganization. This includes assessments of teaching, research, patient care, education, and training of medical and dental students, residencies, fellowships, junior and senior faculty positions, and leadership performance. Top-tier institutions constantly implement necessary changes to maintain their leading status.
 
Teaching, research, administration, and patient care at American universities are embedded in accreditation standards for each individual specialty leading to board examination eligibility. Failing to meet them, medical schools, as well as dental schools, are forced to close. These accreditation standards incorporate several major points within, for example, the specialty of oral and maxillofacial surgery (see http://www.ada.org):
 
1. Institutional commitment/program effectiveness, affiliations
2. Requirements for program director and teaching staff
3. Condition of facilities and resources
4. Curriculum and program duration
Basic sciences
Physical diagnosis
Clinical oral and maxillofacial surgery
Minimum clinical requirements
- Outpatient oral and maxillofacial surgery experience

- Ambulatory general anesthesia and deep sedation
- Admissions

- Major surgery
- Variety of major surgical experience
5. Programs for advanced education students
Eligibility and selection
Evaluation
Due process
Rights and responsibilities
6. Fellowship programs
Aesthetic oral and maxillofacial surgery
Oral and maxillofacial oncology
Pediatric oral and maxillofacial surgery
Maxillofacial trauma
Craniofacial surgery
7. Research/investigative studies

Fostering social competence, collegiality, flat hierarchies within departments, and faculty retreats (in an interdisciplinary setup) will help to ensure that the new autonomy will be successful. One of the intellectual tenets of university leaders and their supporting academicians will be that failure is not an option.
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