The European Board of Urology (EBU) and the European Association of Urology (EAU) have developed a new type of certification specifically for training centres hosting European Urological Scholarship Programmes (EUSP) with the aim to streamline the certification process and become more responsive to new developments in continuing medical education.
The EUSP anchors its goals on the belief that knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied, and that a sharing of expertise benefits not only a community but also enlarges the vision and influence of urology.
In this article EBU Chairman Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller and EUSP chairman Prof. Vincenzo Mirone spoke on the challenges and prospects faced by specialised training centres and how the certification and training programmes of both organisations can support the training and educational ambitions of urologists. Below is the edited transcript of the Q&A:
Q: What has motivated the EBU to develop this new certification programme?
Müller: The EBU aims to set standard requirements for optimal urological training and is assessing and certifying the quality of training institutions in Europe for many years. Our idea was to set up a certification programme for such host centres without being influenced by personal relations in order to provide more transparency and information about the structure and workload of these host centres. Having already established Internet-based evaluation criteria for sub-specialty centres, the EBU proposed this idea to the EAU and within our joint committee (EU-ACMI) we agreed to use a very simplified version of our system to create a new Internet-based certification programme for these host centres.
The European School of Urology (ESU) led by Chairman Dr. Joan Palou is doing excellent work to deliver education and to stimulate urologists at any stage of their urological career and keep up with new scientific and surgical techniques. For many years the European Urological Scholarship Programme (EUSP) believes that “knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied.” There are listed well-known departments and urologists who know each other very well and who have friends who know other friends very well, but little objective information is given about actual surgical procedures in a field or teaching facilities, housing and scientific support to those who are applying in these host centres.
Q: Prof. Mirone, what do you consider are the main benefits of the EBU-EAU host centre certification?
Mirone: To provide certification and international recognition to a European centre which will guarantee high standards of quality and quantity in areas of excellence (examples are andrology, IPB, stones, uro-oncology, etc.). This work will improve the hospital and academic environments. In Europe there are centres that work to high qualitative and quantitative standards. However, in some cases these are less “famous” than those centres which, for various reasons, become more well-known.
Q: What is new in this type of certification? What has changed? Are there new criteria included?
Müller: To qualify as a certified EBU-EAU host centre, several criteria and requirements need to be fulfilled and will be made public through the internet. As a general requirement, an EBU-EAU certified host centre has to practise a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of one of the listed urological fields: Andrology, BPH, Cancer (renal, penile, prostate, testicular, urothelial), Female urology and incontinence, Neurourology, etc. Among others, the centre has to work in line with the EAU Guidelines and show an adequate number of cases to maintain a high level of results and provide a comprehensive and practical training in the given specialty. All these requirements including surgical numbers will be listed in the internet so that any applicant can compare and choose which of the centres he wants to go to.
The application process to become such a host centre is done online and EU-ACME committee members also perform an online evaluation. The title “EBU-EAU certified host centre” is granted for a period of five years, provided the core staff is not replaced. The applicant receives a certificate of accreditation issued by the EBU. The centres’ details are listed on the EBU and EAU websites. The evaluation process will be finished within four weeks from application.
Q: Are there any areas in the EAU-EBU collaboration which do you think should be improved, modified or re-examined?
Müller: Quality in medicine is becoming a very big issue even on the political stage. The EAU provides excellent expertise in training and education for European urologists but quality assurance and certification needs to be done by a different body. The EBU as a section office of the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) can ensure an unbiased high-quality assessment of all EAU and other European urology-related training activities, because the EBU works as an entirely independent regulatory organisation.
Looking at these differences there is no doubt that EAU and EBU somehow need each other and if it is only for the sake of “who checks the checker.” In recent years, it is my personal impression that both institutions made a lot of progress in moving towards each other, combining forces on one hand, and at the same time gradually working out their differences. Quality should be objectively measured, evaluated and made transparent by somebody who is not actively involved in teaching and training. There are many courses given by EAU which would be even more valuable when objectively certified by a neutral body. With this in mind, I think the EAU and EBU can form a strong force together to promote quality in urological teaching and education.
Q: For the EUSP, what are the challenges, if any, when identifying centres for certification and in attracting urology fellows and scholars?
Mirone: To identify a centre is never a simple procedure because one must evaluate all of the variables and, above all, diverse viewpoints must be considered. One must consider the human and logistical resources of the centre itself or those who refer to the centre to receive treatment and, last but not least, the ambitions of those who wish to visit the centre for a short duration.
This last point is most important to the EUSP since its role is precisely that of promoting the growth of young European urologists by exchanging clinical, surgical and laboratory knowledge among young urologists from different European nations, which therefore requires knowing with “certified” clarity where they are going and, based upon this knowledge, how to plan their visit or actual research.
Q: How would you describe the collaboration between the EBU and the EUSP in the area of certification?
Mirone: The collaboration which has come about until now consists of an organisational effort necessary to choose the criteria for the certification. After a number of meetings and many hours of work, today we have been able, in less than a year, to launch an efficient application system to receive certification. Collaboration should continue to anticipate and manage all the eventual criticisms that will arise only at the moment when the certification process is implemented.
The EUSP scholarship programme includes:
|Clinical/Lab Scholarship: Promotes excellent basic research work, EUSP Scholarship offers a year-long programme in a leading European research institution with the option for a one year extension;|
|Clinical Visit: Mentorship from leading experts in the field. EUSP Clinical Visit offers the opportunity for young urologists to sharpen their skills in a foreign European country for a period of six weeks to three months; and|
|Short Visit: To support young urologists, the EUSP provides the Short Visit (SV) for the chosen candidates to experience first-rate urological care, for a period of two or three weeks in a centre of excellence in a foreign European country. This visit can only be done in preparation of a one-year scholarship or a one-year clinical fellowship.|