Alumni of the month: Agnethe Lund
She calls herself a debating gynecologist and was elected debater of the year in Bergens Tidene (BT) in 2016. For Agnethe Lund writing was like therapy. Her advice to other alumni is therefore to throw yourself into it rather than keeping your opinions to yourself.
You are a chief physician and a PhD candidate, what made you choose to study medicine?
I have wondered about the same thing when I am up to my knees in amniotic fluids at four o’clock in the morning. I discovered that I could set ambitious goals and make it at school. I was fond of science and medical school was a tempting challenge after a few years at campus Høyden. I wanted a meaningful job and thought I knew what I was getting into. In retrospect, you could wonder. I did not foresee the long hours…
What do you remember best from your student days at UiB?
I look back at my student days with pleasure. Medical school is comprehensive and has a lot of mandatory attendance. It required discipline to get up at seven o’clock in the morning after a few too many beers at Café Opera the night before. However, this combination of freedom, learning, maturity and social life made my student life unique. Several of my best friends are from this period of my life.
Do you have advice for today’s students?
Do as much as you can beyond your studies. Cultivate other interests. Perhaps this is the time to sing in a band or work with politics. The student years shape you as a person, so throw yourself into life and find out what your interests are. The second and third advice must be to attend all good lectures and try to understand why you are studying the curriculum in the first place. Opinion provides motivation.
In 2016, Bergens Tidende (BT) elected you debater of the year, because you have managed to place abstract health stories a precise meaningful level. What motivates you to write contributions?
My first contribution in BT is titled; “My professional arrogance?” When the feeling of being portrayed inaccurately was boiling in me, I discovered that writing was therapeutic. It seemed dangerous to stick my head out, because the debate was very emotional. However, I received a lot of positive feedback and learned that rather than being annoyed I could contribute to the debate by sharing knowledge. Receiving a price from BT was very surprising, but it has motivated me to write when I have something to say.
You have written important contributions about why intimate surgery is unethical, how giving birth is an extreme sport and that political health priorities need to change – what do you want your contributions to lead to?
In the field of childbirth and woman’s health, there are many current and important debates that need to be done. We work with abortion, assisted fertilization and prenatal diagnoses, birth and sexuality to name a few. How one manages women’s health says a lot about a society. Internationally, pregnancy and childbirth remains an important cause of death for women. In Norway, cosmetic surgery on genitalia is up for debate. That is thought provoking. I wish my contributions would expand the debate and I have tried to make medical knowledge available through newspaper or television contributions.
Why is it important for professionals to participate in public debates?
Simply because it is, we who know best what we are doing. We have spent years gaining and understanding that ban be used to simplify a message. It may be that others should decide how a subject or a service should be managed, but we professionals must speak up about what we do. Progress and research are interesting subjects for us, but become more relevant if we share the insight, and in several areas, we should have a democratic debate. Take, for example, the new law on egg donation. Many will have opinions, but as gynecologists, we are those who can explain how such a treatment proceeds.
Do you have any good advice for other alumni who wish to become debaters?
If you have a message, throw yourself into it. Do not set the same requirements as for research, but explain it as you would have done to a friend. Start with a feature article, and then you will have full control of the text. Media appreciates input and is generally uncomplicated to collaborate with. Be engaged and organize a debate!