Interview with the 2018 WONCA Europe Scholarship winner

Ana Luisa Neves, our 2018 WONCA Europe Scholarship Programme winner, gives us an update of her experience on the programme this year. 
How has your experience been on the WONCA Europe Scholarship Programme? 
In these first months, I have felt incredibly supported by the WONCA Europe Scholarship programme. Most of our work together has been around the development of a strategic plan to support my leadership skills in specific areas, and how the funding can best support me to this end. During this process, the feedback from the programme has been really helpful and had helped me to reshape my plan and envisage opportunities that I hadn't foreseen. Another really important aspect, is that the programme has given me freedom to identify the specific areas in which I would like to build my leadership skills.
How has the scholarship supported your personal and professional growth? 
One of the most important aspects has been around defining a clear and focused strategy for the next four years. As family doctors, and as academics, we are exposed to so many interesting topics, that it is often difficult to decide in which to focus our energy. Being part of the fellowship, and having to define a clear vision and strategic plan for the next years, helped me to identify two priorities, while capitalising on my current experience and work to date. 
My first workstream will focus on the use of electronic health records in primary care, current practice models and policies across Europe. This is aligned with my personal research and policy interests and the a specific area in which I would like to improve my expertise. 
My second workstream will be less focused on building my expertise and leadership skills, and more about creating opportunities for young family doctors. I strongly believe that leadership shouldn't be seen as an individual aim, but also as an opportunity to serve and create opportunities for others. Therefore, I will also use the scholarship to explore the current differences in GP/FM training across Europe, and to identify opportunities to reduce inequities and support young doctors to pave their own way.
What has been particularly memorable?
I think the most memorable thing was that the fellowship allowed me to share my topics of interest, and therefore was a unique opportunity to foster international networking, and to identify other stakeholders and organisations within WONCA with the same interests. We have had really interesting discussions about how to combine and capitalise on individual strengths to work together, and I am looking forward to seeing these activities coming to light in the next years.
What would be your message to future candidates?
I would definitely recommend this opportunity to everyone willing to explore his/her leadership potential. I would like to remind you that the funding can be used to attending WONCA Europe/World Conferences, which are a great opportunity to meet in person with collaborators, to share our work and to get as much input as possible in order to improve it. But the scholarship can also be used for other activities, such as attending a meeting of one of the WONCA networks, visiting the WHO, or participating in a joint activity with the WONCA World WHO Liaison person. All these activities were appealing to me, and I strongly believe they will be useful for family doctors willing to explore their leadership skills and potential.  


Ana Luisa Neves, MD MSc PhD FHEA