Young doctors explore balint groups

Balint 2.0: The Application of Balint Methodology by Young Doctors Movements through a Novel International Web-based Approach

During the past ten years WONCA has given birth to seven regional Young Doctors Movements (YDMs). Having set sail in Europe with Vasco da Gama, it wasn’t until this year that the guiding star Polaris shone on the sky and opened the way for an age of cross-YDM projects, shifting attention from regionally focused activities within each YDM chapter.

After successfully putting Family Medicine on the world map (literally!), discussions emerged in September on Polaris’ Facebook group regarding an online international Balint initiative. Within hours of the initial post, a dozen representatives from the majority of the regional YDMs signed up to participate - namely the Vasco da Gama Movement (Europe Region), Polaris Movement (North America Region), Waynakay Movement (Iberoamerican Region) and The Spice Route (South Asia Region). More recently representatives from AfriWon (Africa region), the Al Razi Movement (East Mediterranean region) and The Rajakumar Movement (Asia Pacific Region) have joined in.

The group calls itself “Balint 2.0 Ambassadors”: 2.0 references the application of technology while “ambassadors” touches on its international nature. Some participants had met in person through previous WONCA conferences and events while others have performed previous collaborations together via the internet. Still a handful are using this opportunity to participate in an international initiative for the first time. Of note, all share a bond in that each is active in their specific regional YDM.

After an initial videoconference in October, the group sought and found the support of the International Balint Federation (IBF). This venture aims to examine whether a Balint group can function in such a virtual manner. The partnership with the IBF also produced two Balint facilitators: Dr Don Nease (President of the IBF) and Dr Albert Lichtenstein (President of the American Balint Society). On their inaugural meeting this December, they set the grounds for the Balint groupwork that should ensue. The January meeting was an exciting launch for all involved, who now look forward for their next meeting in February. The group is working out some minor technical issues and refining the parameters which allow the group to function in such a virtual manner.

It surely feels like an excellent action to highlight the applicability and global extent of both the Balint initiative and the YDM community. A recent literature search did not produce any published results describing such similar international web-based projects. Therefore the group hopes to share this journey of collaboration, learning, and deeper understanding through a peer-reviewed publication later on.

In addition to the great learning experience, this collaboration proves to better unite all regional YDMs. Balint 2.0 Ambassadors are making a good example of a wider international view of breaking frontiers within the global world of Family Medicine, towards a new era for YDMs, young and future family doctors.

Kyle Hoedebecke, MD, CKTP, RMT (Polaris, USA) pictured at left
Luís de Pinho-Costa, MD (Vasco da Gama Movement, Portugal) pictured at right