Surgery, squash and anaesthesia

Hannah (18) wants to become a doctor. After two days job shadowing doctors and nurses at the Norwegian Radium Hospital, she is even more certain that this is what she wants to do.

If your dream is to become a doctor, it may be a good idea to gain some insight into what the job actually involves before embarking on a long education. But job shadowing a doctor is usually only a possibility if you’re already a medical student.

Truls Ryder is a senior consultant and surgeon at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. He decided to do something about this, and over three days, one theme day that you can read more about here and two days of job shadowing, 18 pupils had the opportunity to experience surgery, morning staff meetings and patient consultations with the best cancer specialists and nurses in Norway.

Hannah Fiksdal is one of these pupils. And I, Elisabeth the journalist, shadowed her on the first of her two days at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. It was a day that neither of us will forget. A day that left Hannah with an even stronger desire to become a doctor.

‘I am incredibly grateful for the chance to shadow two different doctors, and to Truls Ryder for taking the initiative to allow pupils from Ullern to come to the Norwegian Radium Hospital. It gives us some idea of what may interests us before we apply for higher education in the spring. Having had a taste of two different aspects of medicine, I think that surgery and anaesthesiology were probably the things that I found most exciting.’

Hannah Fiksdal.

Hannah Fiksdal starts the day early at the hospital. Photo. Elisabeth Kirkeng Andersen

Tuesday 7 November

07:15 – the Norwegian Radium Hospital, basement level 2 – the corridor outside room AU 230
Sixteen excited pupils, 14 from the natural science and mathematics programme who will be shadowing doctors and two from the healthcare programme who will be shadowing nurses, are standing in a corridor two floors below the main entrance to the Norwegian Radium Hospital dressed in white hospital clothes.

Truls Ryder, senior consultant and prime mover behind the job shadowing scheme, is also here. He quickly reads out where each pupil will be spending the day, and sets of at a brisk pace with everyone in tow.

This is an indication of what is to come.

We go five floors up and then a couple of floors down via the back stairs. On the way, pupils peel off from the group to join other senior consultants and professors who they will be job shadowing today.

Hannah and Tristan are handed over to the anaesthetists at the anaesthesiology department. The department has nine senior consultants, one professor working 50% of a full-time position, and three specialist registrars.

07:34
The morning staff meeting has already started when Hannah and Tristan arrive. Eight doctors and nurses go through the list of patients who will need anaesthesia or pain relief today. Some will undergo surgery in the hospital’s central unit, and some require their services in other parts of the hospital, such as the radiotherapy department.

It is difficult to understand the discussions and information exchanged between the doctors and nurses. The jargon is technical, professional and precise. I wonder how much Hannah and Tristan understand? But it is clear that we have a full day ahead, and that many of the patients are seriously ill with cancer. Some are young, and some patients’ cancer has returned after treatment. Despite the difficult subject, the tone of the meeting is upbeat and friendly. It will remain so for the rest of the day.

08:00
Tristan and Hannah meet their mentors for the day. Tristan will join Senior Consultant Hege for a complicated operation that may take more than ten hours. The patient has a form of cancer that means that the surgeons have to go into the skeleton, among other things.

Hannah will be joining Senior Consultant Anne. Anne has several operations on her schedule today, and Hannah and I will be allowed to tag along and see how she works. Anne’s first patient is having an epidural and then a general anaesthetic. This is also a complicated operation.

Anne and Hege both tell us to be prepared that what we experience may make a strong impression on us and that it is natural to feel unwell. They both share stories about themselves and about medical students who have fainted both during and after visits to the operating theatre.

‘Let us know if you fell unwell,’ is their mantra, ‘and we will help you.’ I think back to the countless shifts I worked at nursing homes during my student days, and hope that they have prepared me for this. But what about young people of 18 and 19 who want to go on to work here?

08:07
Anne gives us green scrubs and a purple cap. We change in her office while she explains that her job can be compared to a pilot flying a plane. There is a lot to do when the operation starts until the patient is under anaesthesia, and then there is a calmer period of observation of the patient, often done by her colleagues, and then she goes back to full focus when the patient wakes up.

We get changed quickly.

8:10
Surgery starts early at the Norwegian Radium Hospital, and the patient arrives at the operating theatre at the same time as we do. Anne explains who Hannah and I are and why we are here. In addition to the patient, there are already five people working here.

Anne jokes and talks to the patient, who she has already met several times before. She explains that she will first be administering a local anaesthetic to the back before putting in an epidural, a form of pain relief given as an injection in the back. After that, a cannula will be inserted into a vein in the patient’s lower arm. When the patient is completely asleep, Anne will place a catheter in the neck that will be used to administer anaesthetics, pain relief, salts and anything else the body may need during an operation.

Anne involves Hannah in the work and explains what she is doing while she works, and she also explains to the patient.

‘It was also really nice to see how caring the doctors and nurses were and how they reassured the patients before surgery. They were very good at creating a pleasant atmosphere to make the patients feel safe despite the seriousness of the situation.’

Hannah Fiksdal.

08:41
Operating theatre 4 is a big, light room, and one of the long walls has big windows with a view of Mærradalsbekken stream and the surrounding forest. The river and the walking path meander side by side. But today, we can hardly see any of this through the darkness and fog.

Anne keeps an eye on the pulse and heart monitor that the patient is connected to, while the theatre nurse is preparing the instruments that the surgeons might need during the operation.

The patient is about to be put under full anaesthesia. Anne and her colleagues place a cannula in an artery in the patient’s lower arm/hand and a catheter in a vein in the neck. Anne is calm and talks to both the patient and Hannah. She explains to the patient that she will soon be asleep. She explains to Hannah what she is doing, and how you can tell the difference between a vein, which carries blood back to the heart: ‘It is darker in colour and pumps slower’ and an artery, which carries blood from the heart: ‘It is light in colour, full of oxygen, and has more force. If I had made a hole in an artery, the blood would have squirted out.’

Despite the number of people working in the operating theatre, the atmosphere is calm and pleasant.

Hannah pays close attention to Anne and asks questions while she is working. Anne is obviously impressed with the pupil: ‘Hannah, you are a tough cookie.’

09:10
The patient has been anaesthetised and is ready for surgery. At this stage, Anne and her colleagues’ responsibility is to ensure that the patient is okay during surgery.

09:40
The patient is in good hands in the operating theatre, so Anne goes to the recovery unit where the patients are taken to recover from the effects of surgery. Patients are closely monitored here. Many complications can arise following surgery, such as bleeding, breathing difficulties, a fall in blood pressure, pain and nausea.

Anne will set up a pain pump for the patient. This is a pump with morphine that Anne programs so that the patient can regulate how much pain relief she needs and wants in the days following the operation. We are allowed to use the staff’s break room while she is programming it. ‘Drink squash with sugar,’ she advises. We do as we are told, and talk a bit about what we have seen and experienced so far. Hannah is pleasantly surprised that she has been allowed into the operating theatre already, and at how open and welcoming everyone is.

‘There was some information about anaesthesia at the theme day yesterday, so I understand what is going on,’ says Hannah, and talks more about her wish to become a doctor.

Anne returns and takes the time to talk to Hannah about medical school and her many years working as an anaesthetist at Haukeland University Hospital. She took up her position at the Norwegian Radium Hospital a month ago, and there is still much that is unfamiliar.

10:01
We return to the operating theatre. There are suddenly a lot of people here, and several surgeons with different areas of specialisation discuss the surgery they are about to perform. It is a complex operation that requires cooperation.

After conferring for a while, the surgeons make a plan. Several of the Ullern pupils on job shadowing come by together with a gastrointestinal surgeon. One of the surgeons takes the time to explain the plan to Hannah and the others.

10:20
A theatre nurse goes through a checklist with the physician, surgeon and anaesthetist Anne. Everything is in order, and the operation can begin. Anne uses all her senses to check that the patient is still doing well.

Two surgeons cooperate on the operation. Hannah stands watching behind them. They talk about this and that while they are working, including the musical Book of Mormon. The actual operation is expected to take five hours. After working and discussing amongst themselves for a while, they ask for another surgeon to be called. They need what is called a ‘second opinion’, or another surgeon’s assessment.

There are suddenly a lot of people in the operating theatre, and several surgeons with different areas of specialisation discussing the case. Truls comes in with a couple of pupils who are shadowing him. Truls confers with his colleagues, and one of the surgeons explains that they are uncertain about the best way to proceed. When the surgeons opened the patient up, they found that the assumptions they had made from the outside were not correct. They have to rethink and make a new plan for the operation.

Anne lets us know that this is very unusual. There are rarely this many surgeons involved in an operation, and they do not often spend this much time discussing what to do. She suggests that we take a break and get something to eat. She has to work, though, both with more of today’s patients and planning for tomorrow, but she thinks that we should eat something.

‘Another thing that surprised me was the doctors’ willingness to show and tell me what they were doing and why. During the first day in particular I learnt a lot that I hope will be useful in my future studies. It was also very clear during the operations that good cooperation is incredibly important in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the patients. Everything from how the senior consultants’ discussed to find the best way to proceed during the first operation to how the two surgeons cooperated without needing to communicate much during the second one.’

Hannah Fiksdal.

11:07 Break room
Since we have green scrubs on, we have crispbread with cheese in one of the break rooms. Otherwise, we would have had to change, leave to eat and then change back afterwards. We also have more squash. With sugar. More pupils come in for a welcome break. Four intense hours have flown by. Two pupils have fainted and woken up again.

Ander Bayer from Oslo University Hospital’s communications department also joins us. He made this video about the job shadowing.

 

11:36 Operating theatre 2
Anne comes to get us. Hannah is going to go with her to another operation. Anne is to put another patient under anaesthesia. Again, Anne explains to the patient and theatre nurses who we are. This patient is also having an epidural in the back, and again, Anne alternates between speaking softly and reassuringly and explaining what she is doing to the patient and Hannah. Fourteen minutes after we entered the operating theatre, the patient is under. Two nurse anaesthetists help Anne by monitoring the patient. The theatre nurses wash the abdomen where the surgeons will open up the patient to remove tumours.

12:15 Operating theatre 4
Anne is needed in operating theatre 4 again, where three surgeons are operating on the first patient. They have now decided what to do.

12:23 Break
We get to take another break and have some squash with sugar, while Anne is preparing a pain pump for the second patient.

12:32
The second patient’s operation is under way. Two surgeons are standing face to face, working together. Anne gets a stool so that Hannah can stand by the patient’s head and watch the surgeons work inside the patient’s abdomen. They have made an incision that is held open by a large tool. There is a smell when the surgeon uses an electrosurgical knife to cut tissue and burn small blood vessels. The cancer they are removing is located around the vein and artery, the blood vessels running to and from the heart and legs. The surgeons show Hannah where they have to be careful. The cancer is removed, and they quickly suture the different layers of tissue before stapling the skin. The theatre nurses perform a routine equipment count. The operation is completed in 40 minutes.

The day in the operating theatre was at least as exciting as I imagined! I had not expected that they would allow us to get so close to the patients and really get a proper insight into what happens during an operation and also how the patients are anaesthetised.’

Hannah Fiksdal.

13:35
Anne returns to make sure that both the patient and Hannah are okay. Anne and her colleagues from the anaesthesiology department wake the patient up. The important thing now is for the patient to start breathing again. Everything goes as it should.

13:40
We accompany the patient to the recovery unit, where the patient will remain for a few hours. Anne’s work with this patient is now finished. We go back to her office to change out of the green sterile scrubs. Anne tells Hannah that she will probably doze off early after such a long and intense day. Anne’s shift will last until half past three, when other anaesthetists will take over for the evening shift. In the hall, Hannah thanks Anne for everything she has taught her and for taking care of her during the day.

14:00
As we leave the Norwegian Radium Hospital through the main entrance, we wonder how the first patient whose surgery we saw in the operating theatre is doing. And Hannah says that she is looking forward to another day of job shadowing tomorrow.

Epilogue
The evaluation results for the theme day and job shadowing were excellent. The pupils and teachers were highly satisfied, and it has already been decided that this will be made an annual event for pupils at Ullern upper secondary school who are considering a career in medicine.

‘Finally, I would like to say that it was very inspiring to see how committed Anne and Anna (Anna Winge-Main, who was Hannah’s mentor on the second day of job shadowing) was to their work and how much they loved their job. It was very clear that they are really dedicated to helping their patients. As Anne said, medical school can be hard and difficult, but once you start working as a doctor, nobody regrets their choice.’

Hannah Fiksdal.

READ MORE:

Ullern Student With a Career in Medicine

Aksel Stien graduated from Ullern Secondary School in 2011. Today he is a physician working on his specialty subjects at Oslo University Hospital. Aksel has always wanted to become a physician and the foundation was already in place at Ullern. He learned things from his deployment at The Norwegian Radium Hospital during his upper secondary days that he has yet to learn from his medicine studies.

A warm summer afternoon Aksel is at an Adamstuen café. It’s four a clock and his workday at Ullevaal is done. Aksel is currently working at the department of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Ullevaal Hospital, a part of his specialization and continuing education as a doctor.

— Recently I worked at the emergency services at Grünerløkka for three months, a time I experienced as both exiting and hectic. However, I think it is interesting working at Gastrointestinal Surgery as well.

At Ullern he specialized in natural sciences and he has only good things to say about the teachers.

— I didn’t have one inadequate teacher in all my years at Ullern. Quite amazing really and that contributed to my good grades. Of course, I also worked hard to be able to enroll as a medicine student in Bergen right after graduation.

Very Interesting Deployment
Aksel finished his studies in 2017 and can now call himself doctor. However, a doctor is never fully educated. He is currently undergoing part one of his continuing education. And when he looks back, he remembers well his years at Ullern were he participated in two work deployments at the Norwegian Radium Hospital.

— The deployments motivated me. I learned things I haven’t experienced later, like laboratory work and advanced cell biology. The best thing is that my passion for natural science was rewarded and encouraged. It felt fun doing stuff that was outside of the straight forward curriculum, says Aksel

Aksel was both deployed at a group led by Kristian Berg working on photochemical internalization and how it can be used to kill cancer cells, and additionally at dep. of Radiation Biology were the students learned about skin cancers and the danger of tanning booths.

Uncertain on Future
After finishing the first part of his continuing medical education, he will start the second part that decides the type of doctor he will become at the end, what field of expertiese he will delve deeper into. However, exactly what type of doctor he wants to become he hasn’t decided yet.

— Many of the different types of specializations are fun. Right now, gastrointestinal surgery is very exciting, but I don’t know. It will be a difficult choice, says Aksel.

Aksel has wanted to become a doctor for a long time and thinks it is an exciting profession combining knowledge of the natural sciences, medicine and the body with human contact skills.

— The life of a physician is very diverse, and it is very rewarding often seeing the results of your hard work immediately, says Aksel.

Aksel is tempted to go into research or maybe combining patient treatment with research. Treating patients and doing research is a quite common combination and Aksel has already participated in several research projects.

Do What You Find Fun!
Aksel is a believer in personal motivation. It is important that each graduate student go on to study what they are interested in and excites them.

— If you chose something that motivates you it’s much easier working hard because doing that extra work comes so naturally, says Aksel.

He thinks it is very understandable that natural sciences lover choose the medical profession after upper secondary.

— It’s a natural choice because of the job security and the exciting diversity of the profession. You can work with people, do research or work with patients. As a career it has it all and offers you a choice whatever you do, says Aksel.

— Personally, I have wanted to work with medicine since I was a toddler and I’m very happy about the career path I have chosen.

Enjoying a Meteoric Career as a Researcher

Former Ullern upper secondary school student Simone Mester is enjoying a meteoric career as a researcher. Her research is aimed at making cancer drugs more efficient by getting them to stay longer in the body. But how did she end up here, and what advice does she have for upper secondary school students who are about to choose what educational path to take?

Simone Mester is 25 years old. Before studying molecular biology and being taken on as a researcher at the University of Oslo (UiO), she took natural science subjects at Ullern upper secondary school. She was one of the first students to be offered a place on a work placement programme under the auspices of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Her placement was at the Institute of Clinical Medicine where she worked at both the Department of Tumor Biology and the Department of Radiation Biology.

But choosing molecular biology after upper secondary school was not an easy choice.

‘I felt unsure at the time. I remember thinking a lot about what jobs would be available to me after studying molecular biology. At the same time, the work placements had given me an idea of what it means to work as a researcher. Without that, I would never have dared to choose molecular biology, but would have gone for medicine instead,’ says Simone Mester.

Inspired by Inger
Now, just five years after celebrating her graduation from Ullern, Simone is a researcher at the University of Oslo (Department of Biosciences and Department of Pharmacology) and at Oslo University Hospital (Department of Cancer Immunology) as a member of Jan Terje Andersen and Inger Sandlie’s research group. As chance would have it, Professor Inger Sandlie is a member of the board of Oslo Cancer Cluster and is one of the founders of two enterprises working on a new form of cancer treatment.

‘Inger was one of my lecturers when I took my bachelor’s degree, and I found her very inspiring. She has won several innovation awards and started up businesses. I like working on research that is complex but understandable, and that can form the basis for new and better treatment for serious illnesses,’ says Simone.

So it is no great surprise that Simone’s research project focuses on developing better cancer drugs that stay longer in the body. This enables the drug to kill more cancer cells at lower doses, which means that there are also fewer side effects. This was also the focus of her master’s thesis.

‘My master’s thesis was well received. It opened the door to Inger Sandlie and Jan Terje Andersen’s research group, but chance played a part as well, of course,’ says Simone modestly.

Chance always plays some part, but Simone has no reason to be modest. She is not where she is today as a result of chance alone.

Do not choose the most prestigious fields
Simone is very happy that she did not choose a subject that is better known than molecular biology in terms of status and job opportunities. She encourages upper secondary students to think about what they are good at and what they think is fun when making the hard choice of which direction to take after upper secondary school.

‘I feel that it’s a general problem that so many young people choose high status professions such as law, engineering and medicine, rather than looking at other possibilities. When I tell people that I’m a molecular biologist, they don’t understand what it is, and they don’t ask either, but that’s OK. It’s more important to choose something you think is fun, because that means you will also perform better, even though it’s hard work,’ says Simone.

She adds:

‘And if you think upper secondary school is tough and that you have to work really hard to get good grades, then I can tell you that university is much tougher. That means that it’s really important that you choose a field you’re passionate about,’ says Simone.

She encourages students to talk to their subject teachers about possible career choices.

‘I had several good biology teachers at Ullern, and was considering studying biology. However, Ragni, one of my teachers, was adamant that I should focus on molecular biology since I was particularly good at it,’ says Simone.

She has never regretted her decision. When we ask her what fascinates her about molecular biology, she says:

‘I’m working on such a tiny scale with things like DNA, protein and cells, the building blocks for all life. It’s like a different universe, and, in the beginning, it was hard to understand how I fitted in,’ Simone says.

But after listening to Inger’s lectures and later becoming part of her research team, she is sure about her decision.

The SPARK Winner And the Prime Minister
Simone completed her master’s degree in 2017, by which time the university had already granted her application for innovation funds to continue her research. In addition, she is the youngest person at the university to be accepted for ‘Spark Norway’, an innovation programme at UiO:Life Science, which Oslo Cancer Cluster has helped to establish.

‘My SPARK project is an extension of the project I began during my master’s studies. Of all the proteins I’ve created, I’ve found one with the ability to stay in the blood stream for a very long time. That means that it doesn’t break down so quickly. At the same time, a lab in the Netherlands has developed several new antibodies that can effectively kill cancer cells. The problem is that the antibodies break down quickly in the body. So now we’re trying to combine these antibodies with our unique technology, in the hope of tailoring the next generation of cancer drugs,’ says Simone.

The aim of the SPARK innovation programme is to give young researchers a chance to further develop their own ideas in health-related life science for the benefit of patients and society at large. And Simone’s project really fits the bill in that respect, something a lot of people agree with.

When Prime Minister Erna Solberg opened the new incubator ShareLab at the Oslo Science Park in March this year, a competition was organised between the SPARK participants. And guess who won?

None other than Simone.

Ragni Fet on Simone:

Ragni is a biology teacher at Ullern upper secondary school. Simone Mester was one of her students for all three years: first in natural science and then in biology for two years. Simone was part of Ragni’s first cohort of students nine years ago.

‘I remember Simone very well, and we have actually been in touch after she graduated from Ullern upper secondary school. She struggled a bit to stay motivated while taking her bachelor’s degree in biology, and I talked to her about how that was completely natural and that things would improve at master’s level,’ says Ragni.

And it’s safe to say that the pep talk worked.

Ragni was also the one who recommended Simone to study molecular biology.

‘Many upper secondary school students tend to have a too narrow perspective when it comes to choosing an education and profession. I’m trying to expand their horizons, and I strongly recommended that Simone study molecular biology rather than medicine, which she was considering at the time,’ says Ragni.

She is both pleased and proud that Simone is doing so well as a researcher at the University of Oslo, but she is not the least bit surprised.

‘Simone was very good at biology and really grasped the subject in her final year. I seem to remember giving her the best grade in biology. It’s great that she’s doing so well now. I’m really rooting for her. She has everything it takes to succeed, from intelligence to social skills and work capacity,’ says Ragni.

She is really pleased that the work placement offered to Ullern students was the decisive factor in Simone’s decision to go for a career as a researcher.

‘Students and society at large are very under-informed about what research is and what being a researcher entails. When students praise each other, they say “What are you, a brain researcher or something?”, so they clearly think you have to be extremely clever to become a researcher. Most people find research diffuse, so it’s great that some students can go on work placements and experience first-hand what research is and what a researcher does,’ says Ragni.

Young Skills at Thermo Fischer

The innovation company of the year wants to encourage young talents. 

 

Six students from Ullern Upper Secondary School spent their school day at Thermo Fisher Scientific just days after the company won the prestigious award as the innovation company of the year in Norway.

As part of the school collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster, Thermo Fisher Scientific opens their labs for science students at work deployment.

 

Curious about the school collaboration? Check out our new webpage!

The Dynabeads
The students got a unique insight into how one of Norway’s largest biotechnology companies advances their products, based on the so-called Ugelstad-beads or Dynabeads, developed by Professor John Ugelstad in the late 1970s.

Today, Dynabeads are further industrialized for use in specialized diagnostic tests and cancer treatments worldwide. Annually, the beads are used in an estimated number of four billion diagnostic analyses.

Scientist Synne Larsen and three students are in the company laboratory in Lillestrøm, a ten minute train ride from the capital, where Thermo Fisher Scientific quality checks its products in Norway.

Impressed students 
– I find it incredibly useful to see how our learning at school is being used in the workplace, says student Emma E. J. Botten.

Together with two co-students she was able to see the research and production done in the company’s facilities in Lillestrøm. In parallel, three of the girls’ fellow students were in Oslo and tried out life as crime scene investigators, using Dynabeads as a tool for finding DNA, in the company’s facilities in Montebello.

– It’s impressive to see how much work lies behind their products and how dedicated those who work here are, says student Nora B. Grone.

Diverse employment strategy
The students are in their third year at Ullern Upper Secondary School, with science as their speciality. They all want a career in medicine, global health, mathematics, physics or engineering. A tour of the lab and a visit to the factory were therefore among the highlights of the day.

– It was a bit overwhelming to see Ugelstad’s equation, which is the recipe for the beads, says student Thilde E. Kjorstad.

– Yes, but keep in mind that everyone cannot be as brilliant as Ugelstad. Everybody we employ is equally important and we must have people with different backgrounds and experience, says Erlend Ragnhildstveit, Research Director of Thermo Fisher Scientific in Norway.

Useful cooperation
Thermo Fisher Scientific is a member of Oslo Cancer Cluster. Part of the staff is situated in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, where Ullern Upper Secondary School is located as well.

– The collaboration with Ullern is useful and important to us as a company. This makes it easier to host deployments. In order to develop our business further, as well as the health industry in Norway, we need people with a science background, says Erlend Ragnhildstveit.

Having Chemistry with Chemistry

Interested pupils at Ullern Upper Secondary School arrive at laboratory 117 to learn alongside Dr. Bora Sieng, a chemist in Arctic Pharma. Dr. Sieng advocates for the importance of chemistry and encourages pupils to pursue a career in the exciting field of chemistry.

 

At nine o’clock in the morning, three boys eagerly gather outside laboratory room 117. They’re waiting for an exciting opportunity offered by the collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary and Oslo Cancer Cluster. This opportunity provides pupils the chance to see how chemistry is used in a real-life setting (a biotech company). This allows pupils to apply what they have learned in the classroom and in their textbooks to real-life scientific problems, such as developing new therapies for diseases.

The door opens and Dr. Bora Sieng greets the students with a friendly smile and handshakes. Dr. Sieng, who has a PhD in organic chemistry and is project leader in Arctic Pharma, welcomes them in. Arctic Pharma is a small start-up company developing innovative anti-cancer drugs.

Reaction Action
When entering the lab, we can feel the excitement between the pupils, they are here to learn. Dr. Sieng asks the boys what level of chemistry the pupils have taken. They nervously, but excitedly respond that they haven’t taken advanced levels, but know basic organic chemistry. Thus, they’re put to work after going through some textbook examples and introductory concepts. It’s time for some chemistry cooking!

A Collaboration is Formed
Arctic Pharma relocated their chemistry laboratory temporarily to Ullern in April. Dr. Sieng has been using the laboratory since then. He offers some insight into the new collaboration between Arctic Pharma and Ullern Upper Secondary School.

– For the past few months, I have had the opportunity to carry out my work using the facilities at Ullern through Arctic Pharma’s Collaboration with the school. I feel the school collaboration is a win-win for Arctic Pharma and the pupils at Ullern. Arctic Pharma is committed to introduce pupils to organic chemistry from a company’s perspective. This provides the students with the chance to get a feel of what it is like to work in a biotech company and to see how their education can be applied.

Chemistry is Exciting
When asked why exactly the pupils should learn chemistry, Dr. Sieng responds with this:

– Organic chemistry is fascinating! It can have many applications such as drug design and development, cosmetics, material development in, for example, rubber, plastics, detergents and paints as well as production of chemicals used in agriculture, to name a few examples.

Next Generation
At Arctic Pharma, Dr. Sieng works in a team of scientists that specialize in different fields important for drug design and development. As a medicinal organic chemist, Dr. Sieng is passionate about his work, and hopes to inspire the new generation of chemists.

–  To keep Norway a world innovator, the field of chemistry is important and we especially need to nourish the next generation of chemists and scientists, hence this collaboration is also important for our country.

Essentially, we need to ensure a future for Norway that will continue to thrive, construct and further the research that will help us continue down the path of innovative discovery. Such a future can only be secured if we continue to unlock the potential that chemistry offers us; a future waiting to be unlocked by the next generation.

A Constant State of Liveliness

A driving force behind the collaboration between Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster is stepping down. This is her adventure.

After fifteen great and productive years at Ullern Upper Secondary School, Esther Eriksen steps down from her position as vice principle in the upcoming month. Esther, who has been responsible for many various tasks in her position, has been a part of Ullern’s transformative experience alongside Oslo Cancer Cluster’s emergence in 2009 and recounts her time at Ullern.

A flourish of innovation
Esther Eriksen describes the transformation and unification of Ullern Upper Secondary School and Oslo Cancer Cluster as being a progression from a strong belief in it’s potential to a flourish of innovation.

The collaboration has become a constant state of liveliness: from pupils attending classes, to research, to teamwork and a continuous process of growth.

Since 2009, the school and the cluster, with all its member companies and institutions, has unified to produce a collaborative arena for the pupils. This is an experience Eriksen describes nothing short of “wonderful, educational and groundbreaking”.

Diversity in teamwork
– The collaborative experience is incredible due to the pupils’ ability to take in experience in regards to teamwork. Not to mention they learn how knowledge from books can be translated to hands on work and ultimately get a feel for what life has in store for them, says Eriksen.

Esther Eriksen describes her own experience as being much of the same, and stresses the notion of working as a team.

– Diversity in teamwork is really important! We see this from well-received results and happy pupils, says Eriksen.

Future potential
In regards to the future of this collaboration, Vice Principle Eriksen expresses her desire to see the school continue down the path it has set out on. She wants to see the pupils continue to learn, gain opportunities and continue to work collaboratively.

– I wish the pupils would gain further awareness of the potential this unification brings, and hope to see increased interest in teamwork as an integrity.

The best of moments
Esther Eriksen also shares what she would consider the best moments of her time at Ullern, of which these were her favorite:

  1. When the new school first opened in the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park in 2015 – hard work finally turned to fruition
  2. Seeing how happy and motivated the pupils are when they do projects with scientists, businesses and hospitals in the cluster
  3. The emergence of vocational studies, such as electronics and health care studies, at Ullern Upper Secondary School

To conclude, Vice Principle Eriksen would like to leave the school and her colleagues this message: that she will continue to observe and follow the thriving development taking place at Ullern Upper Secondary School.

– This is only the beginning!

 

Learning about physics in radiotherapy

Join six pupils from Ullern Upper Secondary School to see how physics plays a crucial role in good cancer treatment.

 

A group of interested pupils pay close attention as Taran Paulsen Hellebust explains the recommended radiation dose for a patient with prostate cancer. On a big monitor, she shows how the dose administered by the radiotherapy machine should vary between organs, and what will happen if you increase the dosage or the radiation, or expand the radiation field.

The six upper secondary school pupils ask many good questions. This week, they are spending their school days at the Norwegian Radium Hospital’s Department of Medical Physics, where they are on work placement.

While looking at the screen, they are talking about grey which is a unit of measurement, just like metres and decilitres, for radiation.

All six pupils are studying maths and physics plus either chemistry or biology at Ullern Upper Secondary School, which is only a stone’s throw away from the hospital. Many of them are considering studying medicine, engineering or biotechnology after they graduate this spring. The pupils are Kristian Novsett Borgen, Aurora Opheim Sauar, Edvard Dybevold Hesle, Alexander Lu, Trym Overrein Lunde and Tuva Askmann Nærby.

 

Cooperation on radiation
The pupils get practical insight into topics they have barely touched on during physics lessons. They appreciate getting some insight into working life and seeing how a physicist works.

Hellebust explains how a team comprising a doctor, a radiation therapist and a physicist cooperate on planning a patient’s radiation treatment. If, like many others, you think of physicists as elderly men with unkempt hair running around with their heads full of abstract and incomprehensible formulas, your prejudice has hereby been refuted. The physicists who supervise the pupils and work with radiotherapy on a daily basis are young and know how to entertain their pupils.

 

From brachytherapy to radiotherapy machines
After the pupils have been given an introduction to brachytherapy, physicists Jørund Graadal Svestad and Live Furnes Øyen take them on a tour to see the radiotherapy machines in use in the radiotherapy building. Cancer patients sit in the corridors with family members and friends waiting for their turn, while Jørund explains to the students how the radiotherapy machine is used.

Inside the radiotherapy room, the Geiger counter that Jørund is carrying detects radiation.

‘But it’s a very small amount of radiation, not problematic in any way,’ he says.

The final stop before lunch is a room that could easily be mistaken for the set of the old Norwegian science TV series Fysikk på roterommet. Among other things, it contains an old radiotherapy machine and an old-fashioned ultrasound machine. The pupils have a look and fiddle around with the old machines. They get a chance to feel and see how today’s radiotherapy has developed by leaps and bounds within a relatively short space of time.

‘It’s been great fun and very educational and, not least, we’ve had an opportunity to learn from the experts,’ says one of the pupils.

 

Utplassering på patologen ga mersmak

Ullern videregående skole har et unikt tilbud til sine elever. Gjennom det skolefaglige samarbeidet med Oslo Cancer Cluster kan de delta på utplasseringer hos medlemmene. Spennende, var gjennomgangstonen da vi besøkte de åtte elevene fra Ullern som denne uken har vært hos avdeling for patologi ved Oslo universitetssykehus. Marie Wahlstrøm  kan godt tenke seg å bli patolog.

 

– Dette er et snitt av en frisk livmorhals, sier Else Skovholt og justerer på mikroskopet slik at cellene i prøven, rosa, hvit og sort i fargen, trer tydelig fra.

Skovholt er patolog og sitter nå omringet av åtte elever fra Ullern videregående skole. De ser alle ned i hvert sitt mikroskop som viser samme bilde som Skovholt har lagt på.

– Men se her. Dette er et snitt av en livmorhals med celleforandringer forårsaket av HPV-virus. Om dere ser her så ser dere normalt vev, og så skjer det en glidende overgang til flere celler som sitter tettere sammen med mange mørke kjerner. Dette kan utvikle seg til kreft og må skjæres bort for ikke å gjøre det, sier Skovholt.

Alle jentene som er på utplassering er vaksinert mot dette viruset, og følger nøye med på gjennomgangen av friskt og sykt vev og hvordan se forskjellene på de ulike cellene som er på snittet.

– Tidligere i dag fikk vi se en livmor. Pasienten som den var fjernet fra ligger fremdeles på Radiumhospitalet rett over veien her, sier Marie Wahlstrøm fra klasse 2STE.

 

Et håndarbeid som viser hvem som er frisk og hvem som er syk

Elevene følge fascinert med ettersom Skovhold skifter ut snitt fra ulike prøver. Neste ut er eggstokker og eggledere, sædlederne og bryst. Rutinert viser hun elevene forskjellene på friskt vev, de ulike celletypene som er byggesteinene i de ulike organene og kreftceller. Spørsmålene er mange og Skovholt svarer enkelt på legspråk slik at alle får med seg alt.

På spørsmål om patolog er et yrke elevene kan tenke seg, er Marie krystallklar.

– Definitivt ja. Dette er et håndarbeid der du jobber praktisk i stedet for å sitte på kontor, du er med på å avgjøre om noen er syk eller frisk, og du vet at pasientene er rett her borte, så det blir veldig nært og føles veldig viktig, sier Wahlstrøm.

Patolog Marius Lund-Iversen bidrar også med sin spesialkunnskap. Over to dager har de åtte elevene tuslet opp i sjette etasje i den blå blokka i Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovasjonspark for å få skreddersydd kunnskap om et yrke som sårt trenger rekruttering.

Elevene har fått lage snitt, tappe eget blod for å analysere det for hvite og røde blodlegemer. De har også sett på ulike organer og hvordan de blir oppbevart på formalin, for så å bli snittet opp slik at de kan studeres i mikroskop.

Utplasseringen hos patologen skjer hvert år. Det er ett av mange tilbud som elever ved Ullern får takket være det skolefaglige samarbeidet mellom Oslo Cancer Cluster og Ullern videregående skole.

 

Utplassering med uttelling

Gjennom det skolefaglige samarbeidet mellom Oslo Cancer Cluster og Ullern videregående skole har realfagselever hatt en ukes utplassering på avdeling for Tumorbiologi ved Institutt for Kreftforskning ved Oslo universitetssykehus i 7 år.

 

I år er de heldige elevene som får være med kreftforskerne i sitt dagligvirke; Marie, William, Ondrej, Julie, Louise og Anine.

Da vi stikker innom på andre dag av utplasseringen er elevene i gang med å skille brystkreftceller og føflekkreftceller ved hjelp av magnetiske Ugelstadkuler. Kulene er dekket med ulike antistoffer som gjenkjenner enten bryst-spesifikke proteiner eller føflekk-spesifikke proteiner.

-Vi har søkt utplassering selv for vi har veldig lyst til å kunne ta i bruk det vi har lest om på skolen mer i prakis, sier Louise. Hun var og på utplassering i fjor på Folkehelseinstituttet.

-Det er veldig spennende å lære mer om hva man gjør på en lab og hva det arbeidet går ut på, sier Marie.

De er skjønt enige om at et arbeidsliv som forsker eller lege kunnevære veldig spennende, og alle seks har biologi og kjemi på skolen.

Etter å ha jobbet en del to og to med prøver i laben for å få fram en væske som skal bestå av Ugelstadkuler som har festet seg til kreftceller, går gjengen videre inn på mikroskopirommet for å kikke på prøvene de har jobbet med, samt en negativ prøve for å sjekke at de har gjort eksperimentet riktig.

-Det er mye håndarbeid på en lab. Det er nok veldig uvant for elevene, sier Siri Tveito som er kreftforsker og har ansvaret for elevene denne uken sammen med Karen-Marie Heintz.

-Men de er dyktige og blir flinkere til å pipettere hver dag som går, sier Tveito som har vært med på utplasseringene siden 2012.

Det som skiller utplasseringen på tumorbiologien fra de andre utplasseringene som Ullernelvene kan søke på, er at den varer en hel uke og er veldig praktisk lagt opp slik at elevene får teste ut mye selv på laboratoriet.

-Det er kjempegøy, og absolutt noe som jeg kunne tenke meg å gjøre videre, sier Ondrej.

Han forteller at han liker å finne ut av nye ting, og at det ser veldig fristende ut å bli forsker basert på nettopp det.

-Det er klart at det blir mye skole å ta igjen etter en uke på utplassering, men det er absolutt verdt det, sier Ondrej.

 







Saken blir oppdatert på fredag 9. desember på elvenes siste utplasseringsdag. Da skal de legge fram en oppgave de har jobbet med hele denne uken.

Ullern skole og Oslo Cancer Cluster tilbyr 7 antall utplasseringer i året til elever som tar realfag og media. Utplasseringene får virkelige gode tilbakemeldinger fra elevene og mange forfølger et yrke som forsker eller lege etter realfagsutplasseringene.

 

 

Grand Opening of the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park

When the Prime Minister opens the Oslo Cancer Cluster innovation Park at Montebello in August, the founder Jónas Einarsson are already planning the next steps for the Radium Hospital Innovation Campus.

Monday August 24th is the official opening of the Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. This unique project is built on private enthusiasm and builds on the long history of cancer research and treatment performed at the Norwegian Radium Hospital. The Innovation Park includes Ullern High School, The Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator, and Institute for Medical Informatics and Pathology at Oslo University Hospital – as well as global biopharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Integrated high school
Early 2000, Jónas Einarsson, CEO at the Radium Hospital Research Foundation, and Kaare Norum, former principal of the University of Oslo, realized that a natural cluster for cancer research, development and innovation emerged in the Oslo-area. Together they established Oslo Cancer Cluster, a research and industry cluster within cancer.

They soon realized that the milieu needed a physical innovation center for collaboration, innovation and networking across disciplines. The idea of an innovation park were born, optimally placed right next to the Norwegian Radium Hospital and with Ullern High School as an integrated part to attract and develop talents to cancer R&D and entrepreneurship.

“As a former principal and a man with education as his focus, Kaare Norum came up with the idea to integrate Ullern High School,” says Einarsson. “Ullern and principal at that time, Paal Riis, was very positive from day one, “Einarsson explains, “The collaboration started in 2009 and is expanding every year, and we look forward to being located in the same building.”

All ready for next steps
Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park aims to create one of Europe’s leading centers for education, research and industry in cancer. “By building the park right next to the hospital and Institute for cancer research, the value chain from basic research to industry is brought together at one place: The Radium Hospital Innovation Campus.

Einarsson is already planning the next steps to strengthen the campus further; “We will expand with more buildings and facilities,” he says. “The need for a new clinic building at the Radium Hospital is urgent, and the Oslo-area lack a center for proton treatment. We have investors and drawings in place already”.

Unique project
“We are honoured to have Prime Minister Erna Solberg opening Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park. Governing Mayor of Oslo, Stian Berger Røsland and Head of Oslo University Hospital, Bjorn Erikstein are also part of this celebration “ says  Arne Baumann, Chairman of the Board of the Innovation Park. “We look forward to show them the uniqueness of this project; the park integrates education, excellent research and innovations, and represents a real opportunity to make biotech and health research a new Norwegian industry. Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park is really one of a kind,” Baumann states.

 

Facts:

Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park AS

Total space: 36 000 m²

Tenants: Oslo university Hospital, The Institute for Cancer Genetics and Informatics, Norwegian Cancer registry, Oslo Cancer Cluster SA, Oslo Cancer Cluster Incubator AS, The Norwegian Radium Hospital Research Foundation, The Oslo Hospital Pharmacy, Ullern High School, global pharma companies, Norwegian biotech companies.

Opens officialy August 24.th 2015 by the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg.