Featured Doctor


WONCA Europe Vice President (Norway)

The WONCA editor was recently lucky enough to visit Dr Anna Stavdal, at her home just outside Oslo in Norway. Anna is the current vice president of WONCA Europe and a long-term outspoken advocate for family doctors in her region. An interview conducted over several days cannot be reflected in this featured doctor column, so capturing the essence of who Anna is outside her professional life is not something that has been attempted. If you are interested to find out more about Anna, the WONCA editor suggests you attend the WONCA Europe conference in Lisbon, in July, and meet this remarkable woman yourself.

What work are you doing currently?

I`m working as a GP in the centre of Oslo, in a practice with two other colleagues, and an intern changing every six months. I`ve been working in the same area for 25 years.

I also teach medical students, the main topic being communication skills. As well as that, I give lectures to specialist candidates, at mandatory courses in their training programme. I also mentor candidates in groups in a two-year training programme, also mandatory.

I’m now in my second term of office as vice president of WONCA Europe.

Other interesting things you have done?

I got involved in the Norwegian college early in my career, and had ten years on the board. My last two terms were as chair.

As a result of holding this position, and overlapping with this work, I engaged in the collaboration between the colleges of the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Norway. In 2005, we founded the Norwegian Federation of General Practice, consisting of the five national colleges. The federation owns the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Care and the biannual Nordic Congress for General Practice. I was the first president of the Nordic Federation and stepped down in 2011, the same year I was elected as vice president of WONCA Europe.

For seven years, I also wrote a column in the biggest tabloid in Norway - I was "The GP of the newspaper". It was interesting work, as I have always been quite conscious of the importance of doctors being, and showing, their accountability to society. This work gave me an excellent opportunity to reach the general public and describe the nature of general practice, and why what we do is important to people’s health.

Recently I had a couple of interesting years, dividing my time between my practice and The Norwegian Board for Health Supervision as a senior adviser. The Supervision Board handles serious complaints against GPs. In governmental bodies, of which the Supervision Board is one, the primary care perspective is not covered as well as that of secondary care, which made the work challenging, but meaningful.

What are you passions in and out of work?

I’m almost insatiable when it comes to books, theatre and music.

I also like to be in the nature, at home and abroad. (The WONCA editor can vouch for this having found Anna jogging early in the morning after a snowfall). Most of all I enjoy being with people that can provide me with broader perspectives of life, that being over a meal around my own or other’s dinner table, and through encounters not planned for.

I think I can say that I’m a curious person, in the best meaning of the word- I hope.

What is your history of involvement in WONCA and what you enjoy about it?

WONCA has existed in my universe since I began with the board of the Norwegian college. I actually attended the meeting where WONCA Europe was founded, in Estoril/ Lisbon in 1994, bringing my youngest child, who was six months old at that time.

However, I must admit that for many years, WONCA to me, was a sort of a distant actor, that did not have any significance for my work , neither in my practice, nor in the college.

When I worked on the Nordic level my perspective changed. Developing the collaboration between countries in my region, I have experienced the benefit of collaboration and diplomatic work between actors with some mutual interests, but who at the same time are different in terms of culture, resources, political ways of thinking and historical experiences.

My main task as vice president of WONCA Europe, has been, and still is liaising work, between WONCA and other organisations working in the same field, but from other perspectives. For example, UEMO is the umbrella organisation of the trade unions of GPs in Europe; and the European Forum for Primary Care is an inter-professional organisation working for development of primary care, not only health, in our region. Over the last three years I’ve been the WONCA representative working on establishing ways to collaborate. I have also been working on establishing a relationship between WONCA Europe and the WHO, at the European level. This is interesting work and currently is achieving good progress.

I find it interesting to work with a broader approach, and also from the GPs’ perspective. I find that necessary if we are to achieve what we’re aiming for: a better and sustainable primary care for all.
And, as I’ve already pointed out, I’m a curious person, and in WONCA I meet a lot of different people, which gives me an opportunity to develop and refine my own views and perspectives.

And: I like projects. To get things done...