WONCA World Interview with Prof Shlomo Vinker

Prof Shlomo Vinker, Israel – WONCA Europe President Elect

Shlomo is the President Elect of WONCA Europe and a member of executive board of EGPRN.

What work do you do now?

My main job for the last four years is the chief medical director and vice CEO of one of the community health care organizations in Israel. I am also working as a family physician at my home city, Ashdod, running a practice with a partner.

At the School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, I am a full professor in family medicine, the chair of the department of family medicine and the Vice Dean for developing and teaching in the community.

Other interesting things you have done?

I am very much interested in the development of research in family medicine. In the last year I founded a research institute in our health care organization, "Leumit", encouraging and facilitating research in all levels including the use of big data, clinical trials, innovations and collaborations with researchers from all disciplines.

My main additional professional activities are: member of the executive board of the Israeli association of family physicians, member of the national advisory committee to community healthcare in the ministry of health and member of the reimbursement committee for the introduction of new technologies and medications to the Israeli national health care coverage plan.
I have been a member of the EGPRN for many years and for the last years a member the EGPRN executive board. In the EGPRN I developed and implemented a web-based course in research in family medicine. This project was led also by Prof Mehmet Ungan and Dr Ferdinando Petrozauli and is composed of 25 web-based modules and a final workshop.

I am a member of several editorial boards of journals in family medicine in Israel and Europe and one of the associate editors in the BMC Family Practice journal.

In 2017, I was awarded for lifetime contribution to family medicine by the Israeli Association of Family Physicians after serving for eleven years at its board, two years as CEO and nine years as the Chairman.

Three years ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to write the history of the specialty of family medicine in Israel. I wrote it together with a professor of the history of medicine and with one of the founders of the profession in Israel, who died a year later at the age of ninety. During the project I collected a lot of documents and build the archive of the family association for the next generations.

What do you hope to achieve as WONCA Europe’s President Elect and future President?

The WONCA Europe region has more than 40 member countries with more than 130,000 family doctors. Each country and each individual family doctor have their unique professional needs and their own challenges, while there is a lot in common.

I would like that every single family doctor in Europe region feels that WONCA is his or her real home. I want to make WONCA Europe activities become the arena where family doctors meet together, exchange knowledge and ideas and act together for the sustainability and development of family medicine.

What is it like to be a family doctor in your country?

In Israel we have a constant struggle with the hospitals' physicians. It starts in medical school where the vast majority of teaching is in hospital wards and ends with the health care providers that try to limit our authority and putting all the pressure of quality indicators on the family physicians. On the other hand, the residency program is gaining popularity and now it is possible to fill all positions. The family doctors are very appreciated and trusted by the patients and this is a strength of family medicine in Israel.

Still there is a lot to do in order to reduce the bureaucracy, to reduce workload and burnout.

What are your interests inside and outside work?

Professionally, I enjoy research, like to ask questions and find the answers that are relevant to family medicine. I am mentoring students, residents and young researchers in their first steps in the world of research trying to "infect" them with my passion.

I am living near the sea shore and we have a beautiful sandy beach and a very long promenade. So, walking or jogging are my favorites. I also have a great interest in archeology and history and never miss an opportunity to visit a museum or an archeological site while traveling in my country or abroad.

Interview conducted by WONCA World