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Compendium Medicine: A Dutch Medical Students’ Initiative Going Worldwide

At first glance, Romée and Veerle appear to be typical medical students in Amsterdam like thousands of others. Ask their colleagues or friends, however, and they’d tell you that they are anything but. Their names can be found in local medical students’ bookcases, in newspapers and on the evening news. After one-and-a-half years of meticulous work with a team of over 60 medical students and over 40 specialists, they have created a highly successful four-volume Dutch reference series for medical students. The title’s name: “Compendium Medicine.”

The Dutch “Compendium” books were published last September after the two young women, who originally met at the VU University in Amsterdam, decided that there had to be a better way of studying for exams. They regularly labored through dozens of thick textbooks, often written in different languages and different styles, only to recite a few facts the next day during the exam.

They set out to create a comprehensive set of books that clearly and concisely taught medical school content. The books cover not only clinical subjects but also statistics, health law and other material.

“We wanted a book that was as visual as possible, short and powerful. Because we believe that this is the best way to remember the subjects,” Romée says. “We ourselves, for instance, can remember that certain information was placed on the right top corner of a page during an exam.”

Written by over 100 medical students and professionals from all eight medical schools in the Netherlands, the Dutch edition of the books has sold over 3,000 copies, representing over 13% of the medical student population of the country. The books’ huge success prompted Dutch medical schools to list them as recommended reading for incoming students.

Veerle comments, “We had our own perspective, but the books wouldn’t have been this good if we had just worked on it with the two of us. We thought up the idea and read all text from a to z about a thousand times, but the student authors really worked on this together with us.”

Romée and Veerle, as co-founders of “Compendium Medicine” attribute their success to their own patronage. They are now in the “master-phase” of their medical studies, comparable to the clinical phase in other countries. As Veerle says, “It is not a replacement of other study books, but a recap of everything a student needs to know once they start their clinical rotations. We wrote them in the first place for students, but we noticed that there is also a need for these books among general practitioners and specialists. There is nothing like this in the whole world.”

As medical students, they have noticed that the amount of information available to them is staggering, both on and offline. Veerle notes, “It felt as if the universities didn’t listen to us, the students, who still overwhelmingly prefer studying from textbooks. We conducted market research and saw that an overwhelming 93% of students actually prefer this form of studying. And now the success of the books also showcases this fact.”

In addition to their studies, they still lead a team of over 100 students and professionals to ensure their books’ continued success. At a total of greater than 90 hours worked per week, they manage the entire project from start to finish and are now responsible for the website, webshop and the marketing and promotions aspects. They are currently working on the English version, continuously working to improve the Dutch and, finally, designing a “pocket edition” of cardiology and vascular medicine to be released in June of this year.

Romée intends to specialize in gynecology or internal medicine and Veerle is considering the latter in addition to psychiatry and neurology. Both state that management is something they would like to continue.

Compendium Medicine is currently creating an English version of their successful textbooks to be available for all medical students worldwide. A Kickstarter campaign is ongoing until June 16 and offers students the chance to pre-order the “Compendium Medicine” book series for a discounted price along with flashcards, a single-discipline neurology volume, and much more.

Nina Gelineau Nina Gelineau (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Amsterdam

Nina is a medical student at the University of Amsterdam.

Haras Mhmud Haras Mhmud (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Groningen

Haras is a medical student at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.