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Improvements in primary care skills and knowledge with a vocational training program – a pre–post survey

Authors Djalali S, Tandjung R, Rosemann T, Markun S

Received 9 November 2016

Accepted for publication 11 June 2017

Published 27 July 2017 Volume 2017:8 Pages 541—549


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

Sima Djalali, Ryan Tandjung, Thomas Rosemann, Stefan Markun

Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Background: Facing the upcoming shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs), medical and governmental organizations have recently made major investments to foster vocational training programs in Switzerland, designed to provide context-specific training for trainees in primary care practices. Less is known about the impact of these programs on the skills and specific knowledge of trainees. We aimed to evaluate the Cantonal program for vocational primary care training in the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland’s largest Canton.
Methods: We undertook a pretest–posttest study and surveyed physicians before and after participating in the Cantonal program for vocational primary care training in the Swiss Canton of Zurich. All trainees who participated in the program from 2013 until the end of 2015 were eligible. Primary outcome was the proportion of trainees being confident about their professional, organizational, examination and management skills before and after completing vocational training. Secondary outcomes were the proportion of trainees stating knowledge gain in entrepreneurship and the proportion of trainees being motivated to pursue a career as PCP.
Results: Data of 47 trainees participating in the vocational training between 2013 and 2015 were eligible. In total, 35 (74.5%) participated in the T1 survey and 34 (72.3%) in the T2 survey. At T2, significantly more trainees (T1: 11%−89%, T2: 79%−100%) stated to be at least “slightly confident” about their skills (p<0.05 for each individual skill). Knowledge gain in entrepreneurship was highly expected and experienced by the trainees (55%−77% of respondents) in case of medicine-specific contents, but hardly expected in case of general business contents (≤47% of respondents). Concerning trainees’ motivation to pursue a career as PCP, we observed only a minimal, statistically insignificant change, suggesting that the vocational training did not alter trainees’ preconceived career plans as PCP.
Conclusion: Given the measured increase in confidence, evaluation of training programs should focus on operationalizing key skills of PCPs. Given the lack of change in trainees’ motivation; however, statements about the effect of program implementation on national shortage of PCPs cannot be made.

Keywords: primary care, career choice, physicians, family/trends, internship and residency/trends, Switzerland, surveys, questionnaires
A Letter to the Editor has been received and published for this article.


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