An update report about the Trainee Exchange Programme (TEP)

An update report about the Trainee Exchange Programme (TEP)

  • Issue 79

Chief editor note: We are publishing various articles in this issue on the activity of young trainees (such as the Trainee Exchange Programme –TEP- and the Euroanaesthesia trainee program) , a very successful initiative sponsored by ESA.
The Newsletter encourages its readers who already took part to these important activities to write to us, describing their own experience  as trainees acting in the framework of ESA.

Zoka Milan, MD

Imagine that you’re about to complete your professional training, or have just completed it, and are about to start your clinical practice. Then imagine being awarded a 3-month fellowship that will enable you to receive additional training in new areas and in different systems. Aside from the premier status enjoyed by TEP fellowship recipients, these fortunate fellows benefit from opportunities for professional networking, establishing cooperation between hospitals and visiting new countries.

It is therefore not surprising that the number of applications for this prestigious fellowship has tripled during the past several years. This sudden and massive increase initially brought much joy to the TEP Committee members.

After reviewing numerous applications submitted by very strong candidates, we faced difficult, if not impossible, decisions. This challenge, however, provided a good opportunity for the TEP Committee to review its goals, policies, scoring system and future plans.

Policies had to be rewritten, and the scoring system had to be updated and made more sensitive. The new scoring system we tested enabled us to use different criteria for evaluating candidates, which resulted in fewer applicants with identical scores. We focused on trying to find a way in which to distinguish candidates that would most benefit from the scholarship.

Furthermore, we introduced structured feedback from the candidates and host-centre mentors that would help us to improve the selection process even more. The candidates’ feedback made us aware of the need to improve host centres by doing   the following:

  • share frequent updates
  • remove inactive centres
  • add new centres that offer unique expertise and enthusiastic mentors
  • change application forms for host centres in order to make them clearer
  • making enquiries about the professional registration process in different countries

We recently introduced ESA meetings without fees for mentors or their designated colleagues as a small reward for their time and effort, and we continue to work on improving trainee-host centre matching.

Additionally, we are considering how successful candidates can contribute to host centres. The list of possibilities is endless, e.g. data collection and processing, assistance with research, audits, teaching and presenting at host centre meetings.

Other improvements we are working on include the following:

Increasing numbers of scholarships. For 2020 we will have 15

Obtaining help from the industry. We have already approached several companies

Considering fellows from outside Europe

Cooperation with national societies. This year we had successful cooperation with the Portuguese National Society

Being open to new ideas and looking “outside the box”

Following a biking accident in which one of the ESA fellows was involved while traveling to work, we recently introduced insurance for all fellows that covers both them and their family members during their stay. The insurance is funded by the ESA.

When it comes to hands-on experience, rules are becoming stricter, and more countries are requiring registration; moreover, rules can change between the application process and execution. We encourage applicants to look at the websites about the registration process and remind them to allocate more time for it than is recommended. The ESA does not cover registration expenses.

Last year, our first candidate from a less-privileged country has been awarded a scholarship. In 2020 three candidates from unprivileged countries will be selected.

Graphics 1 and 2 show host centres’ representation and candidate distribution amongst European countries in 2018. The graphics do not necessarily represent the general status, as we have noticed rapid changes from year to year.

We are extremely thankful to the ESA for supporting this committee, to the editor of the ESA newsletter for providing us the opportunity to reach ESA members, to all host centres for sharing their expertise and to ESA TEP fellowship applicants for making our work worthwhile.

This article is written on behalf of ESA TEP Committee members (Prof Vojislava Neskovic, Prof Dr Andrea Szekely, Dr Antonio Carlos Almeida Costa) and Ms Els Sung, Educational Coordinator).