WONCA Europe Award of Excellence in Health Care


The 5 - Star Doctor 2014


WONCA Europe is proud to announce the winner of the WONCA Europe Award of Excellence in Health Care: The 5-Star Doctor 2014:


Assist. Prof. Antonija Poplas Susič, MD, PhD

Nominated by the Slovenian Family Medicine Society


Care provider

Antonija Poplas-Susic is a family doctor with more than 20 years of experiences working in family medicine and over 15 years of experiences as a teacher in family medicine.

In spite of many organisational and health policy responsibilities, she is still working in her practice and is well respected by her patients and co-workers.

Decision maker

She was 12 years member of Executive Board of Slovenian Family Medicine Society 8 years Honorary Treasurer and 8 years Vice-President of the Society. She was Honorary Treasurer of Host Organising Committee for WONCA Europe conference in Ljubljana 2003. She was chair of the Primary Care Committee in Slovenian Medical Chamber for four years, where she developed the idea of quality improvement in family practice by introducing interprofessional practice.

Because of her successful work there, she was appointed an external expert adviser of the Slovenian minister of health. In this position, under her stewardship in 2011, a pilot project entitled “Model family practices” was launched by the Slovenian Ministry of Health. Model family practices represent a new approach to patients’ management at primary healthcare level. The aims of this project were to improve the quality of management of patients with chronic diseases, to introduce and manage the lists of patients with chronic diseases, to improve preventive activities at primary health care level and to develop and implement quality indicators. Antonija Poplas-Susic was the founding leader of this project.


She created a group of professionals to help her to plan such model family practice “Model family practices”. She worked closely with professional experts, academic professionals, economists and politicians to create an appropriate environment to successfully implement the pilot project in Slovenia. The final aim is that all Slovenian family practices adopt interprofessional approach to chronic patient management and prevention. She managed to pull together and make them to collaborate  family physicians, other specialists, nurses, nongovernmental organisations, public health specialists and health politicians.

Her communication skills were recognised also in 16 years of managing Slovenian Family Medicine Society and 4 years of charring a committee in the medical Chamber.

Community leader

She is currently a professional and quality director of the largest Slovenian health centre in Ljubljana who has over 1,500 employees.

She is also the chair of the organizing committee of the Slovenia largest family medicine congress (Schrottovi dnevi) for 17 years.

Team member

She is currently an assistant professor at the Department of family medicine in Ljubljana.

She has a scientific title of PhD and is actively involved in the teaching of students, trainees and practising family physicians and on the research projects. She was involved in a World Bank project in implementing the family medicine specialization in Montenegro as an expert adviser.


WONCA Award of Excellence in Health Care: The 5-Star Doctoris an award to be conferred on physicians, who in the opinion of the WONCA Council, have made a significant impact on the health of individual and communities, through personal contributions to health care and the profession. It is instituted in an attempt to increase the global development of Family Medicine, global networking and partnership.


WONCA Europe received three nominations for the 2014 Award:

  1. Antonija Poplas Susič, The Netherlands
  2. Nato Shenglia, Georgia
  3. Bas Houweling, The Netherlands


The 5-Star Doctor Award Selection Committee consisted of:

Job FM Metsemakers (chair), The Netherlands; Ilse Hellman, Austria; Jose Miguel Bueno Ortiz, Spain; Athanasios Symeonidis, Greece; Carl Steylaerts, Belgium


The selection committee considered the following criteria:

  • a nominee must best meet the principle of the 5-star doctor
  • a nominee should be a serving physician in mid-career who in addition to providing regular service:

-       provides innovative services for a community or special group

-       developed services where they were previously not available

-       supported colleagues in another region, country or college

-       performed academic work (teaching, research, quality assurance) of exceptional quality and relevance

  • a nominee need not be a family doctor
  • a nominee can work outside his or her region, or create something that can be used outside his or her region or serve as a rule model to other regions
  • the "Towards Unity for Health" criteria will be kept in mind: the attributes of the 5-star doctor are:

-       care provider who considers the patient as an integral part of a family and the community and provides high standard clinical care (excluding or diagnosing serious illness and injury, manages chronic disease and disability) and personalises preventive care within a long term, trusting relationship

-       decision maker, who chooses which technologies to apply ethically and cost-effectively while enhancing the care that he or she provides;

-       communicator, who is able to promote healthy life-styles by emphatic explanation, thereby empowering individuals and groups to enhance and protect their health;

-       community leader, who has won the trust of the people among whom he or she works, who can reconcile individual and community health requirements and initiate action on behalf of the community;

-       team member, who can work harmoniously with individuals and organisations, within and outside the health care system, to meet his or her patients and community's needs. 


The 2014 WONCA Europe 5-Star Doctor Award will be presented at the WONCA Conference in Lisbon, 2 – 5 July 2014.

The winner of the 2014 WONCA Europe 5-Star Doctor Award will be one of the three European candidates for the WONCA World 5-Star Doctor Award of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.