The decision to send a delegation to WONCA is visionary.
This presents a newly qualified GP with the most amazing appreciation of how our international colleagues work, the challenges and opportunities that they face, and to learn of their respective healthcare systems and training schemes. I was left with the unmistakable impression that the RCGP and British GP training is way ahead of the game, how high the bar that our trainees must reach, and of how fortunate that we are to be working in the UK. That aside, the WONCA conference allowed the junior delegates to share their experiences.
As a result of this conference, I am sure that some models of training that we take for granted at home will be proposed to the training bodies of other countries by their delegates, and the UK delegates will propose to our College, ideas that we have gleaned from other countries to assist our trainees. One such idea is to establish a national trainee network that provides support and information for trainees — an idea that works extremely well in the Netherlands and Ireland.
We attended the pre-conference and exchanged ideas and information about how we practice in our respective countries with other junior GPs and trainees. The small group workshop structure worked well despite a total of 19 nationalities being represented. We were able to generate common issues facing young GPs, and surprisingly reached close consensus as to how matters may be improved. One example of this is the status of GPs is so variable across Europe, from being the most trusted and valued professional in the UK, to being a ‘reject’ doctor in a large number of other countries — lobbying governments and universities, and leading by high quality practice, were common solutions to this predicament.