Although universities are the most obvious institutes for doing a PhD, a large proportion of Dutch PhD candidates are working at a University Medical Center (UMC). PhD candidates at UMCs adhere to other regulations than their colleagues pursuing their dissertation at a university. Therefore some themes and issues are unique to UMC PhD trajectories. PNN is also active in improving the PhD trajectories in UMCs throughout the Netherlands.
A separate workgroup was started from PNN to focus on subjects specific for UMCs: the National Organization UMC PhD Candidates (in Dutch: Landelijk Overleg UMC Promovendi (LOUP)). This workgroup comprises of PhD representatives from all eight Dutch UMCs, who gather once every six to eight weeks. During the meetings both local and national themes are discussed.
The labor conditions for PhD candidates at UMCs are organised centrally in the collective labor agreement of UMCs. An important distinction in the collective labor agreement is between medical doctors and those with other academic backgrounds who pursue a PhD title. The largest difference between the two is the minimum salary to be offered, though minor differences may exist in local regulations regarding responsibilities as well. PNN is committed to improving labor conditions and raising awareness of rights and obligations among PhD students.
Quality of training and guidance
As a PhD candidate you are an early career researcher and therefore proper guidance and high quality courses are indispensable. Contrary to the collective labor agreement for the Dutch universities (cao-NU), there is no protection regarding the quality of the PhD trajectory in the UMCs. Taking the initiative for making appointments with the promotor and the daily supervisor is upto the PhD candidate. A good format to use for recording agreements concerning your personal development and supervision is a so-called Training and Supervision Plan (opleidings- en begeleidingsplan (OBP) in Dutch). Getting good supervision on your research projects is not all, some skills need to be developed by doing courses. Currently the required course load for PhD candidates – expressed in number of European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) points – varies greatly between the UMCs. PNN is committed to high-quality PhD programs for all PhD students. To improve the education of PhD candidates specifically in the UMCs, a few members of LOUP participate in national committees such as the NFU Graduate school committee and the BROK-committee.