VdGM meets the world through AAFP Workshop

From September 11-13, 2014, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Global Health Workshop was held in San Diego.

For three days participants shared their experiences and initiatives in global health. From medical students to senior doctors, it was quite astounding to make contact with so many interesting people and their experiences from all over the world!

Attendees were actively promoting global health, as they presented the results of their projects from all over the world. It was also incredible to learn how global health initiatives are already being included in curricula at some universities in the USA, be they in the form of voluntary work or meeting sessions.

During this workshop, the WONCA North America region movement for young family doctors, Polaris, was also in the spotlight. Many initiatives of the newly-born movement were presented on a background of excitement and optimism. It was very well received and generated great interest from attendees, be it due to the initiative itself, but also regarding its collaboration with the “Family Medicine 360º” program.

A Vasco da Gama Movement (VdGM) team, of Ana Nunes Barata, Lisa Gambhir and Harris Lygidakis, had the great opportunity to participate in this workshop. After presenting the latest activities from the WONCA Europe Region and the VdGM during the AAFP Global Health board meeting, the team also contributed with a breakout session and a poster at the workshop.

In the session titled Exploring Global Family Medicine through an Exchange Program, the VdGM team shared their practice exchange experience and tried to motivate attendees for the value of exchanges. Photo: Ana Nunes Barata presenting with Harris and Lisa looking on.

In order to give some examples, prior to the workshop, the VdGM team asked both hosts and visitors who already participated in exchange programs (either through the Hippokrates program or the global Family Medicine 360º program) to answer some questions on a video, sharing their experience. The inputs were very inspiring and they were collated into two short videos – one covering the visitors’ points of view and the other the hosts’.

Some quotes from the videos:
“I think exchanges are a way of putting us out of our comfort zone.”
“Regardless of the country and the population, the Family Doctor is always a reference."
"People in the UK as in Uruguay have the same reasons to ask for GP care."
“I decided to become a host to be able to provide to young colleagues the same opportunities that I once received during my training.”
“Personally, I find it very motivating to meet with young, eager and enthusiastic colleagues, who ask questions about patient care or the organisation of our healthcare system.”
“They make me reflect on things that already take for granted and inspire me to think of different solutions to a problem.”

Link to the videos:
- Exchanges in Family Medicine – Meet the Participants
- Exchanges in Family Medicine – Meet the Hosts

In the end of the session, participants were asked to share their answers on the question “How do you see someone who participated in exchanges, in ten years time?”. From “acquiring a world-wide view”, “leadership skills” and “becoming a better clinician”; ideas soared.
The VdGM poster presented the conclusions that were gathered at the World Café on Global Health that happened last February, at the first VdGM Forum, in Barcelona.

As the VdGM team, we hope to have motivated attendees to value the importance of having Junior Doctors Movements, especially in their region. We also hope to have raised the interest in global health, as it not only contributes to professional and personal development but also to the development of Primary Care.

It was a very dynamic workshop, with lots of networking possibilities and fun.

We wish to extend our gratitude to Alexander Ivanov and Julie Wood, of the AAFP, for welcoming us and making this experience possible for us.

Ana Nunes Barata
Harris Lygidakis
Lisa Gambhir