Featured MO: The Romanian National Society of Family Medicine (SNMF)

The Romanian National Society of Family Medicine (SNMF) – the promoter of Family Medicine development

In Romania, Family Medicine is a medical specialty, with an admission exam for the residency program, curriculum, and 4-year-vocational training, the final exam for obtaining the title of the specialist physician.

SNMF is the national representative organization of family physicians in Romania, structured as a network of 36 regional organizations, each with independent legal status. The leadership structure of the national association includes the Senate of the association, the Executive Board, and the President.

Since its inception more than 40 years ago, the SNMF has aimed to develop Family Medicine professionally as a specialty. The tumultuous years following the fall of communism in 1990, however, brought a revival of the primary health care sector. Family Medicine (General Practice at the time) acquires clinical medical specialty status, with vocational training and specific curriculum. Against the background of these transformations, SNMF has gained a new breath, and cooperation with other international partners has strengthened our organization's position among other professional societies.  
The training curriculum in the specialty of family medicine has been updated in 2016, based on modern European concepts, comprising new study modules, some even have an innovative character, such as the module of Imaging and Clinical Ultrasonography, in correlation with the progress of medical technology.

Education projects

At the beginning of the 2000s, against the background of the privatization of general practice as part of health care reform, many medical education projects were carried out, triggering a beneficial chain reaction for the further development of this specialty and family doctors' organizations. Using new trainers in family medicine, coached in two large specific programs (MATRA and NICARE), carried out in collaboration with SNMF, new national education projects have been developed, addressing relevant and trending topics (chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, preventive medicine and vaccinology). This qualitative accumulation has been materialized in recent years in numerous large-scale scientific events: national congresses have become traditional, as have the Annual National Conferences, as well as regional conferences, held year after year for a long time.

Training the trainers' program

In terms of continuous medical education, SNMF organized two "Training the trainers" programs, through which more than 60 colleagues became trainers in Family Medicine. Currently, the current management SNMF has already prepared and started the third-Training the trainers- program, with 40 participants and a curriculum updated to the new orientations in European family medicine. The COVID19 Pandemic has delayed our plans, but we are ready to start again as soon as the circumstances allow.

The Working Groups of the SNMF

Another valuable asset is the working groups within the SNMF, established and functioning similarly to those in other professional societies. Our working-groups have naturally emerged from the need to explore areas of primary importance for Family Medicine, not only from a medical point of view but also from a legislative and managerial perspective. It is worth pointing out the variety of directions of our working groups: from vaccinology to nephrology, from ultrasonography to mental health. There are currently 13 working groups working within the SNMF, with autonomous organizations and initiatives encouraged by the Executive Office. The work of these teams has materialized through dozens of science communications at our events and in conferences of other specialties, position papers, interventions, and collaborations at different levels of administration or with other professional societies.

We can say that the working groups within SNMF are real engines of development and promotion of family medicine specialty in our country, aiming to attract residents to this vocational specialty, and being directly involved in international cooperation through cross-border research studies.

Along with “live courses”, SNMF has been organizing online courses for over eight years using the platform formaremedicala.ro. There are currently 28 online courses on the most varied topics: cardiology, pneumology, diabetes and nutrition diseases, infectious diseases, vaccinology. Also, the itinerant scientific events, Medical Forum and Medic.ro, which have become a tradition, takes place annually in 15 to 20 locations throughout the country, giving family doctors in those areas easy access to medical news. Since the beginning of 2018, no less than 54 such events have been carried out.

Concerning the publications issued, the SNMF supported the first periodical for family physicians ─ Family Physician's Newspaper ─ for almost 6 years (2010 – 2015, 39 issues), which represented a tribune for ideas and research coming from our ranks. It was SNMF’s first official publication. Print articles were provided with medical news, analyses in the field of legislation, practice management, interviews were published with people who cut a figure over time, all in a somewhat new gazette, but full of enthusiasm and a desire to inform well. Currently, our association sponsors Medic.ro magazine, which prints articles, summaries, researches of colleagues of other specialties, maintaining a connection with the public.

Active participation in administrative, management and legislative activities

SNMF has actively and continuously been involved in the process of improving health policies in our country. We should mention the involvement, every year, in negotiating and improving the Framework Agreement concerning professional activity in primary care, as well as the constant participation in the implementation of legislative healthcare projects. The SNMF has consistently argued for respect for the professional independence of family doctors, reduction in bureaucracy, respect for general practice management, and the increase in funding. In terms of the relationship with other bodies, we can highlight the collaboration with prestigious international institutions (the World Bank and WHO), but also with the Romanian central authorities (the Romanian Parliament, the Ministry of Health, CNAS – National Health Insurance House), collaborations materialized through at least ten approved documents and large-scale reports.

The SNMF has collaborated with other organizations and institutions in the drafting of legislative acts (e.g. the Vaccination Act) or has been consulted for the development of other normative acts. In the last four years, we have drawn up and sent to decision-making bodies no less than 45 documents (referrals, requests, petitions), all with the subject of improving the legal framework within which our colleagues operate.

Dr. Razvan Miftode – Vice President, SNMF – Professional Department,
Dr. Dina Mergeani – President, SNMF
Dr. Mihai Iacob – Head of the Ultrasonography Working Group, SNMF