The European Academy of Teachers in General Practice was launched in March 1992 from the New Leeuvenhorst Group (an association for new ideas on the teaching of general practice) for the further development of general practice as a discipline by teaching and learning.
The use of the word ‘Academy’ in the title of the organisation was deliberate and is intended to imply a European structure to provide support and resources for general practice teachers. It is planned to complement and collaborate with existing general practice organisations in Europe, with a special emphasis on teaching.
The aim of the Academy is to foster and maintain high standards of care in European general practice by promoting general practice as a discipline.
This will be achieved by:
- promoting teaching, learning and research in general practice;
- providing support and information for Academy members;
- establishing a communication network between members;
- establishing a central information base on curriculum, teaching methods and the evaluation of teaching;
- producing expert reports relevant to the teaching of general practice;
- publishing books, journals and letters;
- organising conferences, workshops, and seminars;
- collaborating with national colleges and associations in general practice, and stimulating the formation of national societies of teachers; and
- collaborating with international organisations of general practice and the representation of the Academy at international meetings.
With the formation of the European Society of General Practice/Family Medicine the European Academy of Teachers has become a network organisation of that body, independent but working in close collaboration and dealing with the issues of education and training.
Since its launch, the Academy has grown to be the largest personal membership organisation in Europe, with more than 700 members in 35 countries. Teachers in each country in the WONCA European region may be members, and each country with members has one representative on the Council, which is the ruling body.
EURACT first participated in the WONCA meeting in the Hague in 1993, and since then organised its successful international meetings about Drug Education, the survey on recertification and reaccredidation in Europe and learning needs of general practice teachers.
EURACT's work has included the development of an interactive website (www.euract.org) and has also collaborated on WHO activities in Europe. It was involved with the development and launch of the European Journal of General Practice.
Many publications have been produced — for example the EURACT Checklist for Courses Organisers, EURACT Statement on Selection of Trainers and Practice and all the drafting work for the European Definition of General Practice/Family Medicine.
Actually, the most important work is the ‘Educational Agenda of General Practice/Family Medicine’, a definition of core competences resulting from the new European Definition of Family Medicine (WONCA 2002) and contributes to the harmonisation of the learning outcomes of the different educational programmes all over Europe.
Under EURACT consensus, a new movement was launched at the WONCA European Conference in Kos, Greece, September 2005. The Vasco da Gama Movement is a working group for young and future GPs and is extending its membership to all the areas of membership.
The core Italian group for this is now organising a space for 30–35 young Italian doctors, allowing them the possibility of collaborating with colleagues from all over Europe.
The first meeting is planned for April/May to ‘officially’ present the Italian group to a representative of the Vasco da Gama–Europe and to define the short- and long-term objectives.
The aims and objectives are to obtain:
- awareness of the cultural and scientific contents of general practice — a European dimension;
- give young Italian (and European) doctors the possibility to grow personally and professionally, supporting debates and exchange of experiences regarding education and introduction in the profession; and
- structuring research and allowing knowledge of the scientific senior associations.
EURACT has several committees:
- Basic Medical Education Committee: working on a presentation on early exposure to general practice and preparing a paper on how to teach basic concepts of family medicine to students.
- Vocational Training Committee: working on ‘selection processes for entrance to GP vocational training’, following closely the experiences of the UK with a very sophisticated selection process. The different financial frameworks and support for vocational training in European countries will be surveyed and the results presented at the WONCA conference 2006 in Florence.
- Continuing Medical Committee: working on personal learning plans and educational needs assessment and a policy on accreditation.
- Member Services Committee: the next Leonardo EURACT Course for Trainers in Family Medicine will be delivered in Portugal in May 2006. The group intends to provide more educational resources for members through EURACT Website (www.euract.org) and to find out more about needs and wishes of members by a survey to improve the ‘return on investment’ for the membership-fees paid by EURACT members.
- Educational Agenda Task Group: working on how best to implement the Agenda in the European countries and to get the content of the Educational Agenda not only on the bookshelf but into the work of every teacher in general practice throughout Europe within the next 2 years.
- Assessment Issues Taskforce: this group will develop a basic, practical course for the average teacher in general practice on assessment, including feedback and evaluation of courses.
- Educational Research Taskforce: working to develop activities to be managed beginning with the joint EGPRN-EURACT meeting in Malmo and Copenhagen, May 2006. The taskforce is also looking at what is missing as evidence in educational research and what is special in research in medical education.
For more information visit the EURACT website (www.euract.org).