EM Comes of Age in Slovenia

Published on March 6, 2013
With international conferences and newly-trained specialists, Slovenia’s fledgling EM society looks to take its place as an EM leader in central Europe.

The slovenian society for emergency medicine (ssem) was found- ed in 1995. with the execution of the 18th International symposium on emergency medicine in slovenia (June 15-18; Portoroz, slovenia) and with the arrival of the first fully trained specialists in emergency medicine later this year, we can say that the slovenian emergency medicine system is coming of age. on the eve of the symposium, Emergency Physicians International talked to Prof. stefek Grmec, md, Phd, a distinguished member of the SSEM.

EPI: How long have you been involved with the Slovenian Society for Emergency Medicine (SSEM)? What is your current position?

Prof Grmec: I’ve been a member of SSEM for the last 12 years. For the past several years I’ve been in charge of the scientific research within the society. Regarding the 18th Symposium, I’m a member of the scientific committee. I am also the principal contributor to the core curriculum of the emergency medicine resi- dency program in Slovenia.

The recent decision of the EU to financially boost the construction of the regional emergency departments in Slovenia comes as a firm obligation for the Ministry of Health to direct the money appropriately and also speed up the whole process.

EPI: The arrival of the fifirst fully trained specialists in EM by the end of this year is very exciting news. How do you regard the execution of the residency program training?

Prof Grmec: Overall, I think it was correct. With a start of a new specialty, there is, of course, a problem with finding appropriate trainers from other specialties. You know, the ones who understand the importance of the first minutes’ skills regarding their particular specialties. Once we found and attracted them, I think we were quite successful in getting the best of them “downstairs”. One thing I’m especially proud of is the integration of the emergency ultrasound training; we were both lucky and stubborn enough to become a part of the WINFOCUS family. Ultrasound courses are regular and the number of instructor candidates is high. The remaining goal of the residency training program is learning from teaching experiences abroad.

EPI: What do you expect from the first fully trained emergency physicians?

Prof Grmec: The first thing is staffing the emergency departments, and a firm engagement with the training process of the new generations of EM residents. Gradually, the selection of candidates with “teaching potential” should become a priority.

EPI: How do you estimate the current position of emergency medicine as a specialty in Slovenia?

Prof Grmec: It’s beginning to look healthier. EM has fought its way into the inner circle of basic specialties in Slovenia. The Ministry of Health, as well as hospitals, appreciate the benefits of having appropriately trained physicians. The number of residency program applicants regularly exceeds the available posts which is good for the selection of the best candidates.

EPI: The last two decades saw mainly the development of pre-hospital emergency medicine in Slovenia. What was (is?) the main obstacle in promoting faster development of the hospital-based emergency medicine system?

Prof Grmec: I believe the summit of the pre-hospital emergency medicine system has already been reached. At a certain point it was probably necessary to start developing the whole system through a firm engagement with the primary care physicians. The problem now is that money is still canalized through the same pipeline and the receiving part of this flow, the pre-hospital system, has difficulties in understanding the necessity of redirecting the money to the hospitals where EDs are currently under the process of (re)construction. The whole thing is taking longer than we expected. Anyway, the recent decision of the EU to financially boost the construction of the regional emergency departments in Slovenia comes as a firm obligation for the Ministry of Health to direct the money appropriately and also speed up the whole process.

EPI: Which one issue you would like to change as fast as possible?

Prof Grmec: Internationalism of our residency program.

EPI: Any final words?

Prof Grmec: Despite problems with slow reorientation of the emergency medicine system from pre-hospital to hospital-based, the research in the field, especially in resuscitation, has always been strong. Last year, for example, we had a very successful “Resuscitation Summit on the Future of CPR” with cutting edge researchers from all over the world in Maribor. We are committed to keep up with the pace of the field.

From the Summer 2011 issue of Emergency Physicians International

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