Scholarship Programme: Challenges and future prospects

10 August 2010

In recent years the European Urological Scholarship Programme (EUSP) has been successful in its goal to stimulate clinical and experimental research in Europe by promoting and coordinating exchange programmes for European urologists and urologistsin-training. Lately several changes were made in the type and quality of programmes on offer.

Professor Claude Abbou, Chairman of the EUSP, discussed recent developments and how the EUSP has help bridged the gap between clinical practice and the academe.

“The philosophy behind the EUSP is that knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied; a sharing of expertise benefits not only a community but also enlarges the vision and influence of our specialty,” Abbou said.

“To generate a maximum result the scholarship programme is devoted to young urologists, under the age of 40. We enable these urologists to go abroad for them to learn what they need in basic science and on specific topics they decide to develop. We do require that they are very motivated for this programme; they also need to submit a report afterwards. Since the EUSP is funded by the EAU – that means money from all its members – we need to be certain it is well spent,” he added.

Scholarship types
There are several scholarships: short-term visits are aimed at attracting applicants with little time and who wish to focus on a specific topic. They visit an institution for three weeks to get more information. The Clinical Fellowship programme enables young urologists to learn from leading experts and offers the opportunity to sharpen the urologist’s skills in a foreign European country for a period of six weeks to three months.

Abbou: “This programme attracts around 80-100 applications per year. Usually we accept around 50%. Our aim is to attract motivated people to motivated institutions. If applicants are rejected, that is often because of a ´misfit´ between what the applicant is looking for and what the relevant institution is offering.”

First-rate clinical research work is the backbone of many research milestones. Since research is essential in urology to keep the discipline strong, the EUSP contributes to this goal by offering the one-year Clinical Research Fellowship at an excellent European research institution to promote the
field of basic research.

“The EAU pays part of the costs, the relevant institution pays the other part. The participant needs to develop clinical projects and do research. At the end of the year, he has to present a report and produce a publication.

We now have a list of five important and motivated institutions. We intend to help applicants to develop better relations with the department they wish to go to for this one-year period; a short-term visit could serve as a test. It gives them more opportunity to think about the plans they have for the coming training period,” explained Abbou.

A special kind of scholarship is the Visiting Professor Programme. Institutions may apply for support to invite a leading European urologist as a visiting professor. The programme is also designed to allow European institutions that lack the financial resources to host a European visiting professor for a full four-day stay.

Changes
One of the recent changes is that the EUSP now offers a list of projects applicants can choose from. “Some people know exactly what they want to learn and where, but we wish to bring all possibilities to the attention of possible applicants,” Abbou said.

And since the quality of the EUSP programme has increased as well as the number of participants, he added that the EUSP intends to offer more information. “For example, we are preparing a list of accredited institutions, so participants know where they should go to get the best training. Plus, we offer a list of specialties per institution, information about the institution, etc.,” according to Abbou.

Other EAU Sections
Another step forward is the fact that EUSP has established closer relations with other sections, such as the European Section for Urological Technology (ESUT), to get the best list of accredited institutions and programmes possible.

“The ex-officio members on our Board are working on this to make decisive contributions. Most applicants are interested in laparoscopic surgery, robotics; in short, technical innovations they are interested in learning. We are working with these sections to complete a list of accredited institutions for these activities.

“Unfortunately, it is impossible to certify applicants after completion of their fellowship. Certification is something very special which can only be done by the European Board of Urology. We do provide a certificate of attendance. And if we continue to guarantee the high quality of both the institution and the applicant, this certificate will no doubt increase in value,” said Abbou.