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“Advanced Studies” with MIT OpenCourseWare

Study group of medical students in Turkey uses free resources to pursue a PhD-level research agenda

Photo of a medical student lounge with 2 couches and a small table. 2 students sit on the left couch with a poster of the school name behind them. 4 students on the right couch look at a laptop together.

“We didn’t have the chance to do doctoral-level research during medical school. We decided to create that for ourselves.”

Using OCW courses to build their own curriculum, the members of İleri Çalışmalar have developed an independent program of study while working toward their medical degrees. The study group devotes about three months — the equivalent of an MIT semester — to each course in their curriculum. While most of their peers are on the clinician path, the group co-founded by Sıla Özkal, Begüm Tahhan, and Çağan Kaplan, typically draws six to ten students per course.

Photo of 4 medical students standing outside a school building underneath a tent, with informational posters behind them and flyers on the table in front of them.
The co-founders of the study group İleri Çalışmalar, or “Advanced Studies,” at Ege University Faculty of Medicine in Turkey.

Support and collaboration to pursue focused interests

Depending on their schedule, Kaplan explains, the students meet weekly to discuss the OCW lectures and to review course materials. At each meeting, one or more members of the group volunteer to recap the lectures and to facilitate discussion. For new courses — like probability, the group’s current focus — the students approach discussion sessions collaboratively. “After nearly two years of medical coursework,” Adalıoğlu says, “we can now teach and adapt the earlier courses for new students as well.”

Photo of a student lounge with 8 students sitting in a semi-circle of couches and chairs, with a table between them. A poster with the school name is behind them.
A study session of İleri Çalışmalar on Ege University Faculty of Medicine campus.

The toolkits to build their own future

Currently in their third and fourth years of medical school, the İleri Çalışmalar founders note that OpenCourseWare has been a useful supplement to their medical studies as well. While studying the human gastrointestinal system, for example, they revisited the Biological Chemistry course materials to better understand the biochemical pathways that lead to absorption. “When we are confused about any subject, we can always go back to OCW and search for the slides,” says Kaplan.

“We want to solve the problems that come from these diseases, but we need the toolkits to do research. Thanks to MIT OpenCourseWare and our own efforts, I hope we can create some vision — a path for other students after us.”

“We all want to do novel research and study the topics that allow people to understand our universe better. That’s why we started medical school, that’s why we want to do a PhD after medical school,” Adalıoğlu says. “We all love medicine and we love pathology, physiology, learning about diseases — we want to solve the problems that come from these diseases, but we need the toolkits to do research. Thanks to MIT OpenCourseWare and our own efforts, I hope we can create some vision — a path for other students after us.”

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