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Family Medicine

Why should you choose Family Medicine ?

Training Co-ordinators - Dr. Gunther Abela and Dr Mario R Sammut

A specialist in family medicine is concerned with the total health care of the individual and the family and is trained to diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments in patients of all ages. The family physician is usually the first point of contact for a patient who has a perceived or actual health-related need, be it an ailment or a concern on how to maintain health (in its broadest sense). He/she offers continuity of care and is effectively the coordinator of a patient's/client's health, referring him/her to other health care professionals when considered necessary. Fundamental to all this is a strong belief in a holistic approach to a patient's/client's needs. The family physician receives a broad range of training that includes adult medicine and care of the aged, the care of children, women's health, maternity care, preventive medicine, and behavioural science.

A career in family medicine offers the possibility of maintaining proficiency in all the areas of medicine as well as the privilege of being able to manage a patient's/client's needs very close to where such needs arise, that is in the community with all the possible social nuances involved. Furthermore, family physicians can develop and nurture a special interest in a wide variety of aspects like, minor surgery, women's health, prehospital emergency care, palliative care and others.

Specialist Training in Family Medicine in Malta takes place under the auspices of the government's Primary Health Department, with the Malta College of Family Doctors responsible for ensuring the quality of academic training and assessment. As a result of Malta's accession to the European Union in 2004, family medicine was accepted as a specialty and a 'Specialist Training Programme in Family Medicine - Malta' was drawn up by the Malta College of Family Doctors (MCFD) in 2005 and approved by the Ministry of Health's Specialist Accreditation Committee (SAC) in 2006. The 'Curriculum for Specialist Training in Family Medicine for Malta' was published in 2009 by the MCFD's Curriculum Board.

The Specialist Training Programme in Family Medicine (STPFM) was launched in 2007 and is run on behalf of the Primary Health Department by two Postgraduate Training Coordinators in Family Medicine, Dr Mario R Sammut and Dr Gunther Abela, from the STPFM Office at the Mtarfa Primary Health premises in Mtarfa.

So as to focus on the learning needs of family medicine, the three-year programme is based in family practice and taught by GP (general practitioner) trainers, while supplemented by attachments with appropriate hospital specialties. Thus each GP Trainee undergoes training by working under the supervision of a GP Trainer in primary health care, and under the supervision of a hospital supervisor in various departments within secondary health care (Medicine, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Accident & Emergency, Dermatology, ENT, Geriatrics, Palliative Care, Ophthalmology and Psychiatry). Moreover, from October to June, the trainees participate in an academic Half-Day Release Course consisting of afternoon teaching sessions taking place on a weekly basis.

In July 2010 the first cohort of 11 trainees undertook and passed the summative examination, organized by the MCFD under the supervision of the UK's Royal College of General Practitioners. Subsequently another 10 doctors graduated in 2011 followed by five in 2012. For satisfactory completion of training, a trainee must successfully conclude the training programme and the formative/summative assessment process. On successful completion, participants will be recommended by the MCFD to the SAC for certification as having completed the Specialist Training Programme in Family Medicine and inclusion as Specialists in Family Medicine in Malta's Specialist Accreditation Register. They will also be awarded the Membership of the Malta College of Family Doctors, and become eligible to apply for the International Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP[INT]).

For more details regarding the Specialist Training Programme in Family Medicine, please visit www.stpfm.ehealth.gov.mt

Family Medicine Training Programme
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