Below follows an interview done by the university newspaper of Pécs Medical School, 'Confabula', during the spring of 2011. Enjoy.
Who are you and where do you come from?
My name is Brynjar Saunes Bye, though most students at POTE simply know me as 'BRY.', and I grew up on a farm on a small island on the west coast of Norway.
I see myself as quite a private person, and have always appreciated the more intimate parties with a handful of good friends in opposition to the more crowded student gatherings that often occurs in a university city like Pécs. As such, not many students at POTE know who I am outside my closest circle, and more than once I've been relayed an image of myself as a shady pimple-faced delinquent with bottle-bottom glasses desperately clinging to my inhalator while crouched over another set of my exam notes in the darkness of a solitary apartment in the outskirts of Pécs.
This couldn't possibly be further from the truth, except for the part about the exam notes, that is...
When did you start writing notes and what was the purpose of this?
I pretty much started writing my exam notes from the day I sat foot in the hallways of POTE. When I enrolled at POTE the exam notes situation at the English program was a complete mess. There were literarily hundreds upon hundreds of notes circulating the school, most of them insufficient, incomplete or downright misleading. And absolutely no one knew which ones were good and which ones were total rubbish. At that time one particular notes author, Klaus Bye (no relations), had successfully completed several previously uncompleted exam notes. His writings were clear and concise to a level never before seen in the english program, but his oversimplification of the subjects, with his exam notes rarely exceeding 60 pages, sadly deemed them 'insufficient' in the hands of other students of POTE.
As such, POTE was in dire need of someone to compress the collective information dispersed by previous students and make a firm foundation for future students to build their medical career on. With this in mind, I simply found myself at the right place at the right time with a student body in desperate need of guidance, and with an incredible notes author and name-brother that had shown me that proper notes could be written given the sufficient amount of time, focus, and energy.
The rest, as they say, is history…
What was your involvement with the English-German Student Council?
My involvement with the English-German Student Council was always one of duality. I never wanted to join the EGSC due to the additional responsibility it would have laid upon me, and the EGSC never wanted me to join due to my innate need of excessive control in each of my brainchildren. As such we shared a love-hate relationship in which both me and the EGSC tried to avoid each other as much as possible. Even so, there were several occasions in which our paths crossed, specifically when the EGSC didn't find anyone better suitable for the job as well as me subjectively feeling that they were in true need of my capabilities.
As such, I did both the design, advertisement campaign, as well as being the master of ceremony of International Evening '04. I was involved in the rebranding and promotion of POTE to future students, of which results can be seen on both official promotional material as well as internet-content to this very day. I designed, coded, maintained, and was the driving force behind the EGSC web site for many years, as well as designing and launching two successful advertisement campaigns for bringing the students together as one unified online body. Upon the invitation from my good friend and EGSC president at that time, Daniel Livingston, I was appointed the lead designer as well as the technical coordinator for International Evening '09 basically having the first and last word on every single poster, banner, name tag, folder and screen content of the entire arrangement. These designs have been reused or have heavily influenced the designs of both successive IE poster-designs in recent years. And, finally, as a side-effect of my involvement in IE '09 I inadvertently designed the current EGSC logo that has been in use for the past three years. I had originally envisioned a bolder EGSC logo with two leaves in lime-green and bondi-blue overlapping the top-left corner representing the english and german student bodies budding from the tree of knowledge. Anyways, time didn't suffice, and, as such, the EGSC got stuck with the logo they have today.
If anyone would want to seize the occasion, I think i still have the concept designs lying around here somewhere…
How does it feel like to know that your notes aren't just used by the students at POTE but by people all over the world?
Writing my exam notes was, throughout my entire studies, geared towards you as my fellow colleagues at POTE. My wish was for you to have a better foundation than the students before you had the opportunity to ripe the benefits of, and I would be willing to sacrifice almost everything to see that happen. Not even in my wildest dreams would I have expected the notes to spread outside the borders of the school, even less the boarders of the country.
But, as soon as I published my exam notes on the world wide web, it was like napalm in dry grass. Within weeks the notes had spread to every single school in Hungary, within months to every single continent on the planet, and within a year to virtually every single last english-speaking medical school in the world. As we speak, my exam notes are particularly popular in the US, Australia and India, with the UK, Japan and the countries of southeast Africa trailing not far behind. Within the global medical community, my notes truly have proven successful beyond the point of the absurd, reaching their quarter millionth download later this year.
It actually has gotten to the point of several professors in the countries of southeast Africa and southeast Asia building their curriculum according to my notes, and that's just plain ridiculous...
Taking a step backwards, do you think it was a good idea writing notes and sharing them with students?
In retrospect, writing notes for you as students of POTE was an exceptionally poorly thought out concept. The idea seemed just so good on paper, but learning for everyone else but oneself proved to be a private academic disaster. Each of my exam notes were proofread against 5-9 sources, and the obvious contradictions of modern medical science became a constant nuisance in my fight to put the next contemporary truth down on paper. I became so preoccupied in finishing all the notes 'required' of me each semester that I totally forgot to study for myself. As such, I can't remember a single subject (aside from the unholy trinity of anatomy, pathology and pharmacology, that is) I had the luxury of using more than a single day in preparing for my own exams.
Many of you students have approached me asking for advice on how to study. Truth be told, I'm not the right person to ask. The best advice I can give you is to never ever write notes unless this is the only conceivable way you will ever be able to concentrate on the subject at hand. And, for God's sake, never ever write notes for anyone but yourself. Idealism and perfectionism has never brought any medical student in any other direction than straight down. Medical school is passed by repetition, blatant acceptance of half-truths, and the complete disregard of anything reminiscent of academic pride.
Master all these, you will be a truly brilliant medical student...
Where are you now?
As we speak I'm back at my roots on the farm on the small island on the west coast of Norway together with my Hungarian girlfriend where I work at the local hospital.
Like every other student graduating from POTE, real-life medical practice put a chill down my spine I’m yet to truly recover from. POTE educates excellent specialists and excellent scientists, but completely neglects the simple fact that every single graduate will start their career in the dirt along everyone else. Not only does POTE provide an absolute minimum of practical knowledge, but the theory that POTE impose on you as being ‘important’ really doesn’t match the theoretical knowledge that is expected of you in real life.
As such, my final advice to you as a former POTE graduate is as follows: Seize every single last opportunity of hospital practice in your respective home countries you can get your hands on. Apply early, apply to several different hospitals, and take a vacation back home in order to meet the hospital management in person if that is required in order for you to get the spot. And once you have gotten in, stay overtime, stay weekends, stay nights, and make sure to learn from every single last free lesion you are receiving. Believe me, you will grow more as a medical practitioner in a month in your home countries than being a student of POTE for an entire year.
The best of luck in your studies, in your careers, and in your lives...