Felix J. Hofmann and Dominik Penka assume leadership at the Faculty of Medicine, Giessen
Giessen- the faculty of medicine where everything once began. On January 1, 2012, I (Titus Brinker) registered the Enlightenment against Tobacco e.V. there – back then it was just me and a couple of Giessen professors who found my concept quite good. More than three years later, we are now active in nine countries with over 1000 medical students and at more than 50 medical schools; the key decision makers in medicine worldwide adorn our Scientific Advisory Board, two apps with a total of over 100,000 downloads, eight electives, 20,000 students per year, millions of TV viewers, several multicenter trials, the blessings of the Chancellor. – I had not thought of all this at that time. A few weeks ago, with my entry into the practical year, I officially handed over the leadership of the first local group worldwide to my longtime companion Felix J. Hofmann and Dominik Penka (Photo v.l.). I know both of them very well. Above all, through AGT we have experienced a lot together. I know, therefore, that they have developed their new task and belong to the kind of medical students who have made our project so big. I conducted an interview with them so that they get to know it better.
Felix, why did you agree to take over the Group leadership?
“ I have been with AGT now for almost two years and have always worked with a lot of joy and fun. Thanks to numerous tasks regarding the school visits, I know the structure in Giessen better than many others and want this university group, with which AGT had started, to continue to run as well as before. Since you have built up a large network of volunteers and schools, it is difficult, but not impossible to continue this and to increase it. ”
What are your plans specifically for this semester?
“Since I am now writing the preliminary medical examination and have limited time for AGT, I share the supervisory activity with Dominik. As you know, we have already in the past worked on several projects together and that worked perfectly. Our goal is to further develop the local group into a dynamic and stable network of dedicated volunteers, to educate students more efficiently. A contribution to this will be the continuous development and optimization of our current scientific concepts. At the national meeting three weeks ago, while exchanging ideas with other group leaders, I have collected many exciting ideas and suggestions, which are now waiting to be implemented. To further increase the number of students we reach, and be able to expand continuously in terms of learning psychology and educational aspects for our conference, we are planning in the coming semester, following the example of colleagues from Berlin and Frankfurt, to persuade the Department of Psychology to work with us. In addition, we will of course continue the elective. Dominik had to train for this as the first EAT – Mentor in the Medical Smoking Cessation training by Prof. Batra in Tübingen. In addition, special projects have high priority this year also, which is typical for our university group. We want a lot at this point, but have not yet revealed this.”
That sounds like a lot of work. Why do you invest so much time in this topic?
“Smoking is the most important avoidable cause of death in Germany, more than 140 000 people die annually in our country/nation alone due to smoking-related diseases and it is estimated that over 7.5 Million people suffer from the same cause.
I find it important that age-appropriate and differentiated education is imparted to youngsters, who are unable to assess the physical and mental/psychological effects of tobacco consumption at this age.”
With EAT I have found a concept, that works on a scientific basis with its international advisory board, while showing proven effects. In addition, the interaction with the students during the school visits and the network of volunteers provides me a lot of fun.”
Dominik, now to you. Why are you working with EAT?
“It’s fun. On the one hand it contributes to such a theme which interests me a lot and where a great deal needs to be done, on the other hand, it is also a responsibility to be accepted for the group, the schools, and organizational and administrative tasks.
Quite apart from the group leader position I would like, at this point, to bring the work with the children in the foreground. It is a great thing to be able to organize the auditorium presentations as well as the classroom seminars. This is for me a great personal enrichment – while helping the youth. It surprises and excites me afresh every time, how much the youth already know and with what enthusiasm and joy they participate each time at the seminar. For example, the straw exercise is always well received and not only gives the experience of breathlessness on their own body to all participants involved, but is also just a lot of fun. It is always enriching to be able to work with motivated participants.
So it is with me in the EAT network. Here you meet many interesting personalities with creative, good and forward driving ideas. To be able to work together on such things with many like-minded people and continually find support and suggestions is very fulfilling for me. Another reason to get involved in EAT, is the helplessness of children. For them, an independent and informed practical decision is taken, through targeted influence in the form of tobacco advertising at almost every bus stop and advertising pillar, which is explicitly tailored for young people.“
What motivates you to manage now an elective too?
“The elective addresses the tobacco-caused diseases and the steps of addiction, especially smoking cessation. Important for me in the elective is that I can bring up the subject of smoking cessation, so that this theme in the subject, which is so far unfortunately under-represented, is covered because of its enormous importance. That the subject is under-represented is shown and pursued by German doctors. About 90% think that each patient should be addressed about smoking – but only about 25% agree to do so. Since smoking cessation is the single most important therapeutic measure for cardiovascular diseases, this particularly affects many patients seriously.
That I can change something in this situation with my 20 years of age, motivated me incredibly strongly to maintain EAT as an elective! ”
About Felix and Dominik:
Felix J. Hofmann is a student of medicine in the 4th semester and about to appear for the preliminary medical examination. As a member of EAT from the beginning of his studies, he has educated more than 1,300 students and supervised many special projects, represented the association at competitions and assisted in the scientific evaluation of the project for a year.
Dominik Penka is a student of medicine in the 5th semester. He is the coach of a U14 Athletics group in Giessen and has a lot of experience in dealing with children and adolescents, which he uses for the benefit of the pupils in his classroom seminars. He has been a member of EAT Giessen since his first semester and has since educated about 1000 students about the consequences of tobacco consumption and has been involved in many special projects.
More info: www.gegentabak.de/uni-giessen