by | May 2, 2024 | Opinion

Is healthcare education stuck in the last century?

Guest Article by Giorgia SoldàAdvocacy Lead,  EuroNet MRPH

Training the next generation of healthcare workers should be a top priority for society and the healthcare system, ensuring competence and sustainability in both the short and long term. However, it is unfortunately not always the case. 

Regrettably, training is often viewed as a burden rather than an opportunity. Curricula and educational methodologies are not regularly updated, and mentorship programs are often left to chance. Medical residents are often used to fill in gaps caused by a lack of personnel. Besides, despite its significant societal toll, other medical fields frequently undervalue public health’s importance. This was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when virtually everyone became involved in managing the crisis, but no one had trained before for such situations. 

Furthermore, as residents, we are not adequately trained on crucial topics and skills such as climate change, communication skills, and digital literacy. This poses a significant challenge as we strive to develop effective public health interventions and policies to address present and future challenges, including heatwaves, air pollution, extreme weather events, and more. Insufficient training in these areas also hampers our ability to communicate effectively with patients, the general population, and policymakers, and therefore have a positive impact being also able to counteract fake news and misinformation and puts us at risk of falling behind in the ongoing digital transformation. 

As Euronet MRPH, an association representing public health residents from various European countries including Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Turkey, we have witnessed substantial growth in recent years, increasing our capacity to provide internal education opportunities and external representation. We endeavour to secure a place where important decisions are made and where we can advocate youth education and youth engagement by collaborating with ASPHER, the Youth Council of WHO, EUPHA and EPHA, and actively participating in significant events like COP and WHA. As healthcare professionals already operating within the system, albeit still in training, we recognise that we will soon become the decision-makers ourselves.  

Despite our progress, we still face a dearth of proper education and mentorship in many crucial areas that will fall under our responsibility. To address this, we organise seminars, working groups, courses, and research projects to peer-educate and create learning opportunities for all other public health residents. While these initiatives are commendable, they also reflect the lack of sufficient support from our universities, hospitals, and program managers. 

It is high time to reassess healthcare education and bridge the gap between the current practices and the evolving needs of the healthcare workforce. By prioritising comprehensive and relevant training, we can equip future healthcare professionals with the skills and knowledge necessary to tackle the pressing challenges of our time. Let us seize this opportunity to revolutionise healthcare education and ensure a competent and resilient workforce for the future. 

Disclaimer: the opinions – including possible policy recommendations – expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EPHA. The mere appearance of the articles on the EPHA website does not mean an endorsement by EPHA.

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