Dear colleagues and friends,
It is a great pleasure, an honour and a privilege for me to welcome you to Porto, where the 23rd Forum of the European Federation of Psychiatric Trainees is taking place, between 22 and 27 June 2015.
Let me start by saying that I attended an EFPT Forum for the first time in my first year of psychiatry training, the 19th EFPT Forum in Prague in 2011, and since then I have been passionate about the EFPT. In the very beginning I have joined as co-chair, to establish our first phase of the Exchange Programme, aiming to promote intercultural and professional cooperation beyond Portugal. I must say that it has been impressive to see, what started as being a challenging idea, becoming a successful, acknowledged and sustainable project. Afterwards, being faced with the migration trend and unfortunately lack of data of these migration flows, I have been leading the Brain Drain study as International Coordinator that gathered results from 33 countries, contributing to the understanding of trainee’s opinions and experiences towards migration, aiming to enhance trainees’ support. I must say that I really felt honoured for having been elected as President more than 2 years ago in the 21st EFPT Forum in Zurich. From then, I have had my beliefs and goals to foster EFPT, which I have presented at the 22nd EFPT Forum in London, through the EFPT Action Plan 2014-2015, which was duly approved by the General Assembly. This was setting 7 main broad goals for this period.
First, to ensure the effective functioning of the Federation, which I am very pleased to say that we dealt successfully with all the administrative procedures, not needing to seek professional help; at the same time we created the “Strengthening the EFPT Funding” aiming to fundraise and revise the forum fees attendance; as well as having invited EFPT national members to represent EFPT at local meetings, also as a way to empower National Trainees Associations and support them in the efforts to improve the quality of their training.
Secondly, to improve communication, which particularly has been a key priority of this year, with many successful outcomes. We created a new website, with new layout and functionalities; we created an official EFPT video to improve the visibility of EFPT, with the contribution from board members, general managers and chairs of working groups; and we created an EFPT Calendar with the important dates that trainees shall follow throughout the year. In this period, we circulated 4 EFPT Newsletters (Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer) with the contributions from National Trainees Associations, Working Groups, Collaborator Associations, Exchange participants and EFPT’s publications; and we have created the EFPT Special Issues, promoting twice the EFPT’s contribution to major events (EFPT News @ WPA Madrid and EFPT News @ EPA Vienna). Likewise, we have promoted opportunities for trainees through the mailing list and social media (Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn) and used surveys to explore interests and obtain feedback. This was only possible because we have developed an efficient strategy, having created a Social Media Group, entrusting the responsibilities of General Managers to 2 colleagues: for EFPT Newsletter Editor and EFPT Social Media Coordinator, combining very capable people. We have developed an EFPT Guidance for use of social media, that we have promoted, and have created a new flyer circulating it via the internet, in an initiative called: “EFPT 2.U: spread the word” as well as distributing them at main Psychiatry Conferences. We have created an EFPT Signature, promoting EFPT Social media and website, and we finally made it to create a reference of EFPT on Wikipedia. Working in this endeavour has been a remarkable illustration that together, sharing ideas and assisting in tasks, we could make it happen.
Thirdly, to support associations in their efforts to improve the quality of the psychiatry training; which has been done consistently by various ways. We have participated in debates discussing hot topics as the motion on “This house believes that a Europe wide psychiatric exam would be good for psychiatry”; we have contributed to the development of UEMS documents and surveys, and have advocated for the importance of Psychotherapy as part of the training, by also participating in the pilot Psychotherapy Course. We have supported trainees in Europe to create a National Trainees Association, organising a dinner in September in Madrid, together with the Spanish colleagues. We have contributed with our experience in regards to the psychiatry training to numerous national and international conferences and have published our findings in a Letter at the World Psychiatry Journal. In addition, we have promoted this principles in other countries beyond Europe (as in Canada and Egypt) by attending international renowned conferences and speaking on behalf of EFPT. And on top of all of this, we have created and promoted an institutional sponsorship application for the organisation of local, national or European events, offering to contribute to promote activities across Europe.
Fourthly, to promote the professional development of psychiatry trainees in Europe. Particularly on this regards, we have conducted a 3 day Pre-forum leadership and professional skills course, directed by Professor Norman Sartorius and Professor Sir David Goldberg, covering topics as: how to make a presentation, how to prepare a proposal for a project, how to read and write a paper, how to produce and present a CV, how to present oneself for an elective position, how to proceed in an interview of a person seeking employment, how to chair a session, and much more; while providing free accommodation and meals within the course for participants. We have arranged to organise the 23rd EFPT Forum in line with the interest of trainees and EFPT’s plan. And to support representation and attendance at the Forum from trainees coming from countries with more difficult conditions, we have increased the Forum bursaries amount given to colleagues to 5,000€, which is a considerably significant increase of direct support to trainees.
Fifthly, to represent trainees in the best interest of their training, which I personally have been very fond of. We have used our EFPT statements effectively, for example promoting the EFPT Statement on Brain drain, EFPT signed the call to action on human resources for health, for which I had the privilege to attend on behalf of EFPT a meeting at the European Parliament about “Mobility in the EU” and putting EFPT on the threshold of a historical step: in a position to become a partner of the EU Joint Action on Health Workforce Planning and Forecasting. We have actively promoted representation of psychiatry trainees in activities organised by other partners, as medical students and junior doctors from other specialties.
Sixthly, to provide and promote mobility and research opportunities for psychiatry trainees. This has been done by promoting the EFPT Exchange programme that increased the available programmes for 13 countries; by collecting all the EFPT publications and creating a List of publications promoted in our website and Newsletter, publishing our research projects on important topics, such as concerning the Pharmaceutical industry interactions of psychiatric trainees. Further to this, we have started liaising with other organisations to achieve these goals. In fact, as part of my mandate, I have provided the idea to ECNP in Zurich upon my election, to set up a Research Internship as a collaboration with EFPT, providing short-term research opportunities. And this indeed was successfully settled, offering in the first phase 5 places for junior researchers, having increased in the second phase to 10. We have also developed relationships for the first time with WHO and IFMSA, aiming to develop a strategy for future cooperation and joint projects. I am delighted to announce that we are going to collaborate with The Lancet Psychiatry – for a focus group upon the Commission on the Future of Psychiatry, organised in conjunction with the WPA.
Last, but certainly not the least, to contribute to promote the positive image of Psychiatry in Europe and in the world among the general public, medical students and other medical specialities. Tackling this, we aimed to increase the visibility of EFPT, also by creating an EFPT template presentation and making it available to members to promote EFPT. We have remarkably organised for the first time an EFPT Stand at EPA, giving flyers, pins and pens, at the same time we were making presentations from Working Groups in the interactions at the stand. Here, we have made a competition with an EFPT frame for the “Best picture” and the “Best video”. We have engaged medical students in these initiatives, having participated for the first time in an IFMSA event and having the Regional European Coordinator of IMSA attending our EFPT Forum.
I am overwhelmed, that I can actually report that we have not only fulfilled all the items that were part of the EFPT Annual Action Plan 2014-15, but even integrated and achieved further things to the organisation.
I truly believe that we (as psychiatry trainees of the present that are going to be the psychiatrists of the future) have an important role in shaping the future of psychiatry.
In a while, I will end this mandate, after a journey in EFPT for the past five years, which is the same time I have been pursuing my psychiatry training, but I will be pleased in not closing the book and staying engaged in the EFPT board till July next year as Honorary President.
For me, knowing you, meeting new faces and seeing friends, some of which have even hosted me in their homes throughout this journey, has been one of the best parts.
I am going to end my words with a quotation from a Portuguese writer and poet Fernando Pessoa:
“The value of things is not in the time they last, but in the intensity with which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and unique people!”
I hope you profit as much this EFPT Porto Forum 2015 and you have the opportunity to network, enjoy and learn with each other. And I hope this Forum will fulfil this quotation.
Mariana Pinto da Costa
On behalf of the EFPT Board