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General practice based teaching exchanges in Europe. Experiences from the EU Socrates programme 'primary health care'.

Journal article
Authors Chris van Weel
Bengt Mattsson
George K Freeman
Marc de Meyere
Martin von Fragstein
EU Socrates Programme "Primary Health Care"
Published in The European journal of general practice
Volume 11
Issue 3-4
Pages 122-6
ISSN 1381-4788
Publication year 2005
Published at Institute of Community Medicine, Dept of Primary Health Care
Pages 122-6
Language en
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences


This paper reviews the experience of international exchange of medical students for general practice. The experience is based on the EU Socrates programme 'Primary Health Care' that offers, since 1992, clinical attachments and research electives in primary care. This programme involves 11 university departments of general practice/primary care in eight countries: Austria - Vienna; Belgium - Gent; Germany Düsseldorf; Italy - Monza, Udine; Netherlands Nijmegen; Slovenia - Ljubljana; Sweden - Göteborg; and the UK - Edinburgh, Imperial College London and Nottingham. More than 150 students have taken part in the programme, most in the last four years. For clinical attachment communication to patients is essential, and students should be able to speak the language of the host university. A research elective in primary care is less demanding and requires students' ability to communicate in English. Despite marked differences in health care structure in the countries involved, it is quite possible to provide a valuable teaching environment in general practice, and the experience gained by students in the exchanges more than equals that what they would gain at home. The added value is in experiencing the influence of another health care system and of working in another academic primary care centre. A substantial number of research electives have been published in international peer reviewed scientific journals with the student as first (occasionally second) author and staff members of the student's host and home university as co-authors. A further benefit of the exchange programme lies in the transfer teaching innovations between universities.

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