WONCA Working Party on Education set priorities for action

Prof Val Wass, the new chair of the WONCA Working Party on Education sets out the group's coming priorities and activities.

I have been very delighted to be elected as chair of the WONCA Working Party on Education (WWPE). As many of our group have repeatedly said so much was achieved under the excellent proactive leadership of Professor Allyn Walsh – she is a very hard act to follow. I will do my best and have really appreciated the welcome and best wishes from the WWPE members.

Our three Strategic Priorities for 2017-2018.

Allyn Walsh and I can be seen above working together in Rio with the group. We agreed our priorities for 2017-2108. These can be viewed in full on our website page. The three areas for action aim to:

1: Raise the status of FM in the undergraduate (UG) curriculum: by lobbying through WONCA to influence the UG curriculum and support the WONCA Singapore and Rio statements. We aim to (i) improve the status of the discipline (ii) attract the brightest and best into FM (iii) foster a high academic status for FM.

2: Continue the development of programme accreditation: by building on the published WONCA standards for postgraduate (PG) training and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and acting as a resource for WONCA to support programme accreditation. We aim to promote PG training and CPD for FM particularly in underserved areas.

3: Sharing resources: by disseminating education resources both within WWPE and across the WONCA networks and producing guideline documents applicable across the continuum of education.

Our first action:
This has been to create a strong interactive Google group to ensure we have a vibrant mutually supportive WONCA Education network and for exchange of ideas. I have been contacting members on the original group email list and have had positive intents to remain from 65 members representing 37 countries.

As I have not received replies from a significant number, if you are not receiving emails on behalf of the WWPE and want to remain or join please send up-to-date information via the Education website: Click the link below to join us.

Join our Working Party

Sharing resources with EACH

Many of the WWPE group have expressed an interest in communication skills training. I am delighted to have met up with a very old friend, Evelyn van Weel-Baumgarten (now president of the International Association of Communication in Healthcare - EACH), whose advice I originally sought in 1995 when creating a primary care skills centre for a London medical school!

Many of the WWPE have declared a strong interest in communication skills training. Evelyn and I now aim to move to create an active link between our two groups; an ideal opportunity to share resources and expertise across WONCA. Evelyn has written an article on EACH in this month's WONCA News.

By choice - not by chance

Michael Kidd has highlighted that this UK report By Choice - not by chance, which I chaired has lessons for all WONCA members.

The report looks at careers for General Practice in medical schools and takes a focused view from the student’s perspective. Length of exposure to primary care and access to Family Medicine role models impact positively on a student’s career choice. An entrenched tribalism between primary and secondary care leads student to perceive GP as of lower status and lacking an academic profile. This is a challenge WWPE aims to address.


Two WWPE workshops have been accepted for the WONCA rural health conference in Cairns

(i) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) standards: Meeting the needs of a rural practitioner and

(ii) Developing social accountability with the rural undergraduate curriculum. Please come along if you are attending.

A further two have been submitted for WONCA Europe in Prague - more news on these hopefully in the next newsletter.

We have much to do. Raising the academic status of Family Medicine for undergraduates remains an international challenge; as does the development of training and CPD globally. The 2010 Lancet report Health Professionals for a New Century highlights that education is inextricably linked to workforce development. Arguably medical school education has lagged far behind the future needs of health care. Join our working party if you are inspired to help!

Val Wass