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Open Access Research article

The development of academic family medicine in central and eastern Europe since 1990

Anna Krztoń-Królewiecka1, Igor Švab2, Marek Oleszczyk1, Bohumil Seifert3, W Henry Smithson4 and Adam Windak1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Chair of Internal Medicine and Gerontology, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Krakow, Poland

2 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

3 Department of General Practice, First Medical Faculty, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic

4 Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

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BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-37

Published: 19 March 2013

Abstract

Background

Since the early 1990s former communist countries have been reforming their health care systems, emphasizing the key role of primary care and recognizing family medicine as a specialty and an academic discipline. This study assesses the level of academic development of the discipline characterised by education and research in central and eastern European (CEE) countries.

Methods

A key informants study, using a questionnaire developed on the basis of a systematic literature review and panel discussions, conducted in 11 central and eastern European countries and Russia.

Results

Family medicine in CEE countries is now formally recognized as a medical specialty and successfully introduced into medical training at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Almost all universities have FM/GP departments, but only a few of them are led by general practitioners. The specialist training programmes in all countries except Russia fulfil the recommendations of the European Parliament. Structured support for research in FM/GP is not always available. However specific scientific organisations function in almost all countries except Russia. Scientific conferences are regularly organised in all the countries, but peer-reviewed journals are published in only half of them.

Conclusions

Family medicine has a relatively strong position in medical education in central and eastern Europe, but research in family practice is less developed. Although the position of the discipline at the universities is not very strong, most of the CEE countries can serve as an example of successful academic development for countries southern Europe, where family medicine is still not fully recognised.

Keywords:
Family medicine; General practice; Medical education; Medical research; Central and eastern Europe