Jeff Faculty to Train Physicians In Eastern Europe
In a world where politics and medicine often collide, doctors working behind the Iron Curtain have had little exposure to modern medicine. In many Eastern European hospitals, you can't find a medical journal dated after 1975 or 1980, much less state-of-the-art technology and medications, says Elias Schwartz, MD, Director of Medical Research for the Department of Pediatrics at Jeff and the duPont Hospital for Children. "Physicians are starting to feel changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, but they still receive dismally low compensation and many must take a second job to support their families."
For the last two years, Dr. Schwartz has served as a volunteer for the American Austrian Foundation, an organization established to promote education for Eastern European professionals in a variety of fields. Dr. Schwartz has participated in teaching a week-long course in Salzburg, Austria for 21 pediatricians from 15 countries including Slovakia, Latvia, the Ukraine, Poland and Hungary. This July, he has volunteered to teach another course along with two other Jefferson pediatricians: Alan Spitzer, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Balu Athreya, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and a rheumatologist.
The students in the Austria Foundation program are mid-level physicians who show promise as future leaders in pediatric medicine. The goal is to expose them to American teaching methods, such as interactive case analysis, and to important current scientific and social medical issues. Many Eastern European-trained physicians have not had the advantages of learning in small groups, attending medical conferences outside their countries, or other opportunities to exchange ideas, Dr. Schwartz points out. Following the course, the trainees continue to follow the latest medical developments via Internet connections, CD-ROMs, and visits to the USA and Western Europe.
"We hope to make a major impact in pediatrics in Eastern Europe," Dr. Schwartz maintains. "As one of the leading medical institutions in the country, with an outstanding pediatrics program, it is our mission at Jefferson to promote medical education throughout the world."