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Martine Gilard: A picture of medical education in France

Martine Gilard, EuroPCR course co-director, explores medical education in France – reviewing what is good about the French system and what needs improving. She also explores the potential role of e-learning.

In France, medical education depends on the ministry of health and it is provided by the 38 French Universities within the French territory. Medical studies consist of six years of general medical education, followed by four years (plus or minus two years of cardiology specialisation). Today in France, the number of cardiologists is 6,200. Regarding the fellowship programme in interventional cardiology, it is a postgraduate programme of two years. However, at present, this additional training is not recognised by the heath authority. This is why a reform to integrate this additional training in the cardiology specialisation curriculum is planned in 2017.

There are also several forms of post-graduate training, with a lot of specific meetings focusing on interventional cardiology. Additionally, some workshops are organised by the industry and look at particular topics (e.g. transcatheter
aortic valve implantation, left main percutaneous coronary intervention, and chronic total occlusions etc). However, these industry-driven events are at high risk of providing biased or industry-oriented information.

What we do well in France, in terms of funding, is that everyone can have access to higher education. Moreover, all of the universities follow the same core curriculum. Therefore, all medical students have the same course, including two years of fundamental learning and four years that combine medical learning and medical practice (patient examination and clinical skill learning etc.).

Nevertheless, medical training could be more based on interactivity with the fundamental knowledge available on a website. In this way, during the physical or face-to-face courses, educators could adapt teaching to the questions and specific needs of the students. This means changing the learning/teaching process to one that is built around the active involvement of the learners. Such a change will lead to professional development for the educators.

Also, for the undergraduate students, maybe we could expand and organise a clinical skills programme, aiming to better prepare the future practitioners to be more practical by focusing on their proficiencies and the patients’ outcomes.

Outside of France, EuroPCR is a course targeting the postgraduate healthcare professionals. Most of the key messages provided by the EuroPCR community could be transferred in the daily practice. Furthermore, these messages help each of us to choose the best solution for each patient presenting with a specific clinical situation. Also, I think e-learning will play a fundamental role in the future. Most of the present medical medicine universities are developing e-learning educational programmes, but they are still at the beginning of the process. E-learning could be improved by a global strategic vision driven by both EAPCI and PCR family. This could have common long-term objectives and unbiased practical programmes that aim to improve the proficiency of heathcare professionals involved in interventional medicine.