Interview with Claudia Kurek,Supervisor of EaT Essen, Germany

It’s a mild September afternoon in the conference room at the Dean’s office. Medical student Claudia Kurek begins to present. Silent lecturers and an eavesdropping Dean of Studies are the audience. This situation is not a normal one at the Faculty of Medicine at Duisburg-Essen University. Claudia is currently in her third semester. Her presentation is about the founding of an ‘Education Against Tobacco’ project at the local university. When the Dean found out that Claudia wanted to educate schoolchildren about smoking, he promptly invited her to the study commission. Now she is standing here in front of an audience of clinical and preclinical professors and representatives from the Dean’s office to talk about her plans.


‘According to current figures, 70% of smokers want to give up smoking. Only 5% succeed in doing so,’ begins Claudia. ‘We want to get involved, before it’s too late, with schoolchildren between the ages of 10 and 15. The small age difference helps us to be taken seriously as role models.’


The commission nods in agreement, listens carefully and the PowerPoint slides fly by. At the end, there’s applause and business cards are exchanged. ‘Great project. If you need support, just get in touch.’

Since that September afternoon, Claudia has educated hundreds of schoolchildren with other medical students. On Tuesday, together with the Dean, she wants to discuss integrating the project into the curriculum. Her goals are to ensure the project’s longevity and the professional training of the medical students. In Hannover, Gießen, Homburg, Lübeck, Dresden and Frankfurt, the Deans have already agreed to elective modules.

Claudia, why do you think that your work is effective?

‘Our program is fun for the schoolchildren. They always listen well, ask lots of questions and you can see that the facts both fascinate and surprise them. Not only that, but you can also tell that they have never really thought hard about it. There’s also the scientific background to the project that can be found on the website.’

How do you organize the work alongside your studies?

‘Sometimes it’s really difficult to accomplish everything while studying, particularly just before the preliminary medical exam when our timetables are quite full. But I enjoy the work and to this point I’ve always found time for the organization and school visits. If you really believe in something, I think you’ll always find time for it.

What are your plans for the project in Essen?

‘More schools, more students, more patients, professional training and, above all, greater longevity. This is what I’m taking to the elective module planning session. The idea behind the elective module is tried and tested and comes from the first project set up in Gießen. Now I just have to convince the Dean.’

About the person: Claudia Kurek (20) is a medical student in the fourth semester at the University of Duisburg-Essen and receives a scholarship from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, which recognizes particularly talented students according to the criteria ‘achievement, initiative and responsibility’.

What does the work in school look like?