Prof. Diana Ramašauskaitė. Photo: VU MF.
She is a scientist, lecturer, practicing physician, committee member of national societies and international organisations, and a student research curator, who finds time for hobbies in an intense working week. How does she manage everything? “There is much more!” responded Prof. Diana Ramašauskaitė, Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Santaros Clinics, laughing.
Her outstanding work, professionalism, a substantial contribution to studies, a devotion to transferring knowledge to young specialists and her contagious joyfulness did not go unnoticed by the academic community of Vilnius University. During a solemn annual meeting of the university Senate titled “Bidding Farewell to 2021”, the professor was presented with the award for Best Lecturer of the Medical Faculty 2021.
You were chosen as Best Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine 2021. Was this accolade a surprise or, perhaps, something you were expecting? What does this recognition mean to you?
I did not expect it, for sure. I think that most lecturers at the Faculty of Medicine are really excellent. I often hear good things about them. Therefore, this award was a true surprise – I do not believe I am special.
I am certainly delighted to be acknowledged and appreciated for the work that I do. After all, work is a big part of our lives. People, like me, who teach clinical subjects, have to “organise their life” very well because lecturing and practicing are inseparable. So, when you achieve highs in the latter, it is great that my educational activities have also been noticed and are valued.
Naturally, a question arises – if you are a good practitioner, does this mean that you will automatically be a good teacher? In other words, can you put an equals sign between a good physician and a good lecturer?
No way. Not every good lecturer can be a good practitioner. First, you probably have to make a decision on what you want in your life and move in that direction. I started from practice and my desire to share my knowledge with others developed later.
And now, you have been lecturing for 16 years...
My journey into lecturing was not quite a usual one. Most medics, actually begin by lecturing. For instance, a young student of residency studies is involved in the process of their studies and simultaneously begins the practice of lecturing. If we offered a 40-year-old physician to come and give some lectures to students, then... (she starts laughing) This doesn't sound appealing. Besides, students today are more demanding, they are much smarter and better educated. For this reason, a lecturer has to be well-prepared. It is not possible to take a nap while lecturing! If you have no plan, you can hardly expect that a lecture will go well.
I often hear colleagues complaining that it is difficult to attract practitioners in the field of medicine, to come and lecture. Recently, study programmes and study schedules have changed, and so some subjects overlap. Last year, we taught the third and fourth-year students which resulted in double the workload. We had to look for reinforcements. Some colleagues started lecturing and they liked it and continued doing so. Others are reluctant. But if you do not try, you cannot know whether you might like it.
How have students changed, if you compare the time when you started lecturing and the present day? Have you noticed any changes in motivation, the desire to know and learn?
Students at the Faculty of Medicine have probably always been very motivated. Particularly those, who come to study clinical subjects. Some of them already know the area in which they will choose to specialise in after graduation. Such people are extremely motivated. They read extra material, engage in additional activities, and do research, which allows them to get involved in the area of their desired speciality.
Still, if I had to compare the two groups, present day students have much more motivation than before. In addition, there is much more competition between students. It was not typical in the early days. Sometimes it is positive but it can sometimes be severe. In such cases we have to intervene. Competition, definitely, forces us to try harder, put more effort in, and learn better.
In due course, I notice that although groups are very different, there are some where students do not know very much about each other. For example, if somebody is absent and I ask, whether anybody knows what happened, often, nobody knows anything. Before, students would themselves know and explain what happened, why, etc. There is less unity in student groups. This is perhaps because of the competition I mentioned. There are fewer positions available in residency studies than the number of graduates in medical studies.
You devote a lot of time to students’ engagement in research activities. Why is it important to you?
Most students are highly motivated. There are cases when people have a considerable interest in studies but their grade average is lower than, for instance, 9.5. When such a student applies for residency studies, I want to give them as many additional points as possible gained during practice and research activities. If you see that a student has a great desire, then you feel, why shouldn't you help them?
Some students get involved, write articles and carry out research. There are some students who being in their sixth year of studies decide that obstetrics and gynaecology is not for them. This is also alright. Such student has accumulated some knowledge and will be aware that during their pregnancy women may encounter additional health. For example, even if a pregnant woman breaks her leg, she is first examined by an obstetrician–gynaecologist...
I am now of an age that my first students have grown up. Soon a doctoral thesis is to be defended by Ms Greta Balčiūnienė. She is my former student who started her first research with me. I am delighted to see someone developing – becoming an independent researcher and an excellent specialist.
You have worked in the Institute of Clinical Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine, the Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, as well as the Clinic of Cardiovascular Diseases. Rather surprisingly, you also work in … the Institute of English, Romance and Classical Studies at the Faculty of Philology.
I have participated in a project carried out by this institute in cooperation with Uppsala University in Sweden and Maynooth University in Ireland. We began our cooperation about five years ago, after the authors of the project contacted the Faculty of Medicine looking for somebody who would be interested in the subject of motherhood. Since I work for the Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, I had a feeling that I should help my colleagues.
We started a joint study with Rūta Morkūnienė (a doctoral student and a psychologist at our hospital), on the psychological state of women who have given birth early in relation to the physical state of new-borns (from 24th to 32nd weeks and from 32nd to 36th weeks). We intend to compare the results we get with the data from research carried out by Uppsala University.
While listening to you, I am trying to organise everything in my head – you give lectures, do your practical work, devote some time to curate students’ research activities, take part in project activities, are a member of committees in international organisations. How do you manage to combine everything?
And that's not all! (she laughs) I have been the president of the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians for six years. You can only hold this position for a total of two terms, (three years each). So my time in this office is coming to an end. But as my family tells me, this is, probably, not the end, something new will emerge!
I think you have to plan everything very well. If you see that one of your activities might be negatively affected, then you have to make a decision, which of them is more important and activity has to stop. I also advise my young colleagues that they have to decide what is more important in any particular stage of life. Other activities may be put aside. You can later come back to them…or not, because you must also find time to have a good rest.
Do you have time for hobbies? What activities help you to recharge your energy after an intensive working day or week?
I would like to have more but I have what I have. My biggest hobby is travelling. A colleague and I go to a remote country once a year. I have calculated that I have visited more than 56 countries in four continents. Countries in Asia, South America, Central America…I have been to most countries in Europe and have reserved the ones I have not visited for some later time when I am older and cannot travel far (she laughs).
I was very upset when we could not go to the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics which was supposed to be held in Australia last October. My Australia was in Vilnius with a computer on my lap. The congress was held online.
Imagine that you have a ticket to travel to one of the countries you have already visited. Which country would it be?
I always want to go to Italy! I go there once a year and could probably go there again and again! I like the Italian landscape, its people, climate and food – in fact, everything. Speaking of more remote countries... Everywhere, I would probably like to return to every country I have been to but as long as there are places I have not visited, I would like to use that ticket to go to a new destination.
The Rector's Diploma for the best lecturer of the Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University in 2021. Photo: VU MF
Prof. Diana Ramašauskaitė’s Current Positions:
- Obstetrics and Gynecology Center of Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos. Position: head of the center, obstetrician-gynecologist;
- Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine of Vilnius University). Position: head of the clinic, professor;
- “Northway medicinos centrai”. Position: obstetrician-gynecologist.
- 2005-12-20. The thesis in the field of biomedical sciences “The value of fetal lung maturity research for the prognosis of neonatal respiratory syndrome” was defended at Vilnius University.
Education and Work Experience:
- Qualification of a medical doctor, Vilnius University (1992);
- Obstetrician-gynecologist, Vilnius University (1996);
- Obstetrician-gynecologist, VMKL (1996–2013);
- Obstetrician-gynecologist “Northway medicinos centrai” (2005–present);
- Obstetrician-gynecologist, VUL SK (2013–present).
Prof. D. Ramašauskaitė (with co-authors) has published over 120 articles (the list can be found HERE and HERE) in peer-reviewed Lithuanian and foreign journals, has prepared informational publications, methodological clinical recommendations, has read more than 60 papers at international and national scientific events. The professor also participates in international projects, organizes conferences, and is a member of the committees of international organizations.