A brief history of EURACT and description of activities

Network organisation within WONCA Region Europe - ESGP/FM

 

The establishment of the European Academy of Teachers in General Practice can be traced back to the formation of the first Leeuwenhorst Group in 1974. This group acted as a workshop for new ideas on the teaching of general practice, and is remembered for defining the role of the general practitioner with this definition remaining valid today. Its successor the New Leeuwenhorst Group, which was formed in 1982, was concerned with the further development of general practice as a discipline by teaching and learning.

 

The Group felt that there was a need to develop further in order to realise its aim of promoting the discipline of general practice through learning and teaching, and that there was a need for an organisation to support the many individuals involved at all levels (undergraduate, vocational training and CME) in the teaching of general practice.

 

The European Academy of Teachers in General Practice (EURACT) was launched in March 1992. It was felt that support for teachers would best be provided by an organisation for individual membership, rather than an organisation of large national bodies or societies. The overall aim of the Academy is "to foster and maintain high standards of care in European general practice by promoting general practice as a discipline by learning and teaching."

 

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 intended to complement and collaborate with existing general practice organisations in Europe, using its special emphasis on teaching.

 

EURACT has its registered office in the municipality of Utrecht and the official language of the Association is English. The EURACT Constitution that had been approved by the EURACT General Meeting at Kos Island (Greece) on 5th September 2005, was replaced by new Articles of Association that were approved on 26th April 2009 in St Petersburg (Russia).

 

Since the launch of the Academy it has grown to be the largest personal membership organisation in Europe, with over 800 members in nearly 40 countries. Teachers in each country in the WONCA European region may be members, and each country with at least 3 members has one representative on the Council, which is the ruling body. Council meetings are held twice a year in different countries, and may be associated with a meeting or course for national teachers. It has regularly participated in WONCA European meetings starting in the Hague in 1993.

 

With the formation of the WONCA Region Europe/European Society of General Practice/Family Medicine, EURACT became one of the three network European organisations with special interest in education, and took a leading part in the first three network conference in 1999 in Majorca, and the second in Tampere in 2001. It was the instigator and provided the principal authors of the European Definition of Family Medicine published in 2002.

 

The EURACT Educational Agenda of General Practice/Family Medicine was published by EURACT in 2005 as a framework for teachers to teach the core competencies of General Practice/Family Medicine, and for learners of the discipline to be used as an educational framework for setting learning aims, and monitoring their achievement. The Educational Agenda was followed in 2014 by the issue of the EURACT Performance Agenda of General Practice/Family Medicine which tackles the assessment of general practitioners' performance in daily practice. November 2010 then saw the publication of the first edition of the EURACT Newsletter, the role of which was taken over in 2014 by the EURACT Messenger which is issued twice yearly. The Definition, the Educational Agenda, the Performance Agenda and the Newsletters/Messengers are available as PDFs for download from the Publications section of this website.

 

EURACT also ran its own international meetings, with its successful first international meeting, on Drug Education in General Practice, in Göttingen in 1994: this resulted in the publication of an occasional paper by the Royal College of General Practitioners. Subsequent meetings included:

  • 1999 WHO Charter & family medicine in Europe - Bled
  • 1998 Lessons from Educational Research – Maastricht
  • 2001 Conference on new definition and core content of family medicine - Barcelona
  • 2002 Higher Professional Education - Maastricht

On 8-10 September 2016, the inaugural EURACT Medical Education Conference with the theme "Educating Doctors for General Practice / Family Medicine 2.0" took place in Dublin, Ireland (http://www.euractdublin2016.org).

 

EURACT organises courses for teachers – skills courses have been provided in Greece, and Turkey, followed by a Leonardo-EURACT Teachers' Course, moving annually to different parts of Europe. The first edition of this course with participation of trainers from 6 countries took place in Poland in May 2004. Subsequently a EURACT Assessment Course was also developed. A yearly EURACT International Bled Course has been run in in Bled, Slovenia, every September since 1991 (http://www.bled-course.org).

 

An important document entitled “Framework for Continuing Educational Development of Trainers in General Practice/Family Medicine in Europe” was published in 2012. This guides the development of GP/FM educators and reviewed the curriculum of the Leonardo EURACT Teachers' Courses that are now offered at three levels from competent to proficient to expert.

 

EURACT has also published a number booklets including:

  • "A survey on recertification and reaccreditation in Europe" 1995
  • "Attributes and learning needs of general practice teachers" 1995
  • "Hospital Posts for general practice training" 2000
  • "Selection of trainers and training practices for specific training" 2002
  • And in collaboration with EQUIP "Quality Standards for CPD in Europe" 2003.

 

This EURACT website hosts EURACT official documents, together with specific guidelines, statements and other educational resources. Among these are the Dynamic Interactive Databases of Specialist Training in General Practice/Family Medicine and Continuing Medical Education/Continuing Professional Development which provide up-to-date information about these areas in EURACT member countries. The website also offers an 'Ask the Expert' service where EURACT's experts can be asked about a problem GP teachers are facing or regarding a topic of interest to them.

 

All teachers of general practice in the WONCA European region are invited to apply for membership of the Academy, either individually or as part of organisations in collaboration (see below). Applications should be made to the national representative (click here for details). They will be considered by the Council of the Academy at its next meeting. All applicants for ordinary membership must be family doctors active in teaching general practice. Students and trainees are invited to apply for junior membership (at half the normal membership fee). Teaching organisations such as university departments, or national teaching bodies can apply to be given the status of an organisation in collaboration. Further details on this is available from this page and from the secretariat. The membership fee is arranged in Euro to symbolise our common European base, and is payable annually.

 

The latest EURACT Information Leaflet may be downloaded from here. An article entitled 'EURACT and the GP teacher' was published in the European Journal of General Practice in December 2012 to mark EURACT's 20 years of service and may be read here. An information poster about EURACT prepared for the 19th WONCA Europe Conference in Lisbon on 2-5 July 2014 may be seen here.