Surgical training offered via internet - 16/5/2006

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Surgical training offered via internet
Cynthia Busuttil

Prospective surgeons and other medical professionals and students are being given the chance to further their training online.

A scheme launched by the Association of Surgeons yesterday will enable doctors to study three modules of their basic surgical training through the internet.

These are vertigo, acute abdominal pain and pre-operative assessment of patients with respiratory problems.

It is hoped that the number of modules will increase over time.

The scheme is one of a number of programmes aimed at keeping doctors and surgeons here instead of losing them to hospitals abroad, programme coordinator Adrian Agius said.

The programme aims to make things easier for doctors, because doctors specialising in surgery usually need to do their studies after hours working at the hospital, and it would be easier for them to be able to do this in the comfort of their own home, he added.

Attempts are being made to ensure that studies in Malta are recognised abroad.

Medical School dean Godfrey Laferla explained that normally, it takes doctors six years to specialise in surgery, and they usually spend this time in a hospital in the UK. Through the various programmes being launched, the time doctors need to spend abroad will be cut to one or two years, depending on the area specialisation.

The surgeons' association is hoping this will lead to a decline in the number of young doctors who opt not to return to Malta after studying abroad.

The medical education programme, which has been peer reviewed by local and foreign specialists, is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the government.

It is aimed at established medical practitioners, doctors in training, clinical year medical students, pharmacists and allied professionals.

Prof. Laferla said the EU would like all countries to provide training in all disciplines, and that was why the need for structured post-graduate training was felt.

Doctors will access the training programme through The Synapse, a site operated by Medical Portals Ltd.

Managing director Wilfred Galea stressed the importance of continuing medical education, adding that this was a new era with a new learning method.

Project manager Kenneth Grech said it was important for Malta to have structured training programmes and a number of other associations and departments were setting up their own.

According to Dr Grech, 250,000 were distributed to several local associations under the European Social Fund programme, 10,000 of which went to the Association of Surgeons.

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