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ENTOG meeting report, Slovakia and the Czech Republic 2013

In 2013, the 23rd ENTOG exchange took place in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The exchange was held in Slovakia and the Czech Republic from 6 to 9 May 2013; the ENTOG education session and council meeting then followed on from this on 10–11 May in Bratislava.

The two topics for the educational session were leadership in O&G and responsibilities of trainees throughout Europe

We had two UK trainees attending the exchange: Dr Mathias Epee and Dr Louise Kellison.

Geography and history

Slovakia is a  landlocked country in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about 49,000 square kilometres. Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The largest city is the capital, Bratislava, and the second largest is Košice.

Slovakia is a member state of the European Union, NATO, United Nations, OECD and WTO among others. The official language is Slovak, a member of the Slavic language family.

In the course of history, various parts of today’s Slovakia belonged to Samo’s Empire (the first known political unit of Slavs), Principality of Nitra (as independent polity, as part of Great Moravia and as part of Hungarian Kingdom), Great Moravia, Kingdom of Hungary,  the Austro-Hungarian Empire or Habsburg Empire, and Czechoslovakia.

A separate Slovak state briefly existed during World War II, during which Slovakia was a dependency of Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1944. From 1945 Slovakia once again became a part of Czechoslovakia.

The present-day Slovakia became an independent state on 1 January 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Slovakia is a high-income, advanced economy with one of the fastest growth rates in the European Union. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and the Eurozone on 1 January 2009.

Industry

The main industry sectors in Slovakia are car manufacturing and electrical engineering. Since 2007, Slovakia has been the world’s largest producer of cars per capita. There are currently three automobile assembly plants; Volkswagen’s in Bratislava, PSA Peugeot Citroën’s in Trnava and Kia Motors’ Žilina Plant.

Regarding electrical engineering companies, Sony has a factory at Nitra for LCD TV manufacturing, and Samsung has a base in Galanta for computer monitors and television  manufacturing.

Bratislava’s geographical position in Central Europe has long made it  a crossroads for international trade traffic. Various ancient trade routes, such as the Amber Road and the Danube waterway, have crossed territory of present-day Bratislava. Today, Bratislava is the road, railway, waterway and airway hub.

O&G training in Bratislava

Postgraduate training lasts for an average of 5 years and all training is undertaken in the same hospital. Training is trainee focused and service provision is mainly provided by the consultants.

An exit exam is then undertaken after completion of numbers based training programme. It is usual for trainees to then gain   a permanent position in the training hospital.

Trainees work an average of 48 hours per week and salaries are poor compared with the rest of Europe.

Private practice is common and consists mostly of out-patient gynaecology or antenatal services.

The Exchange

The exchange took place between 6 and 11 May 2013; the ENTOG educational session took place on 10 May, followed by the council meeting on 11 May.

36 trainees from throughout Europe participated in the 2013 exchange. They were hosted in various hospitals across Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Exchangees spent 4 days as clinical observers and were involved in all aspects of hospital life during their stay.

Reports from our UK exchangees are available to read on the RCOG website and  provide a feel of their individual exchange experiences.

ENTOG Congress

Congress took place at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Bratislava. The format of the day included formal lectures, debate and small group workshops.

Firstly we heard from three different exchanges about their experiences and how the local training differed from that of their home countries. Next we had a lecture on leadership; the qualities and attributes that make someone a successful leader. Following this the results of a survey detailing the various levels of responsibility given to trainees and midwives across Europe were presented and this certainly made for some interesting comparisons!

The day concluded with two debates; the first debated full verses partial supervision throughout training and the second debated numbers verses competency based training.

A dinner comprised of local specialities was then served at the beautiful Academia Istropolitanain the historic old town. This was followed by plenty of opportunity for dancing and socialising.

ENTOG Council

During the council we heard bids from Norway and the Netherlands to host the 2015 exchange. The vote was won by the Netherlands and we look forward to visiting their country and perhaps to gain some insight into how they achieve such a high home-birth rate!

The Ukraine bid to join ENTOG and I pleased to say were accepted.

Topics for the 2014 ENTOG session were decided democratically and are:  Global women’s health and workforce planning.

Council elections resulted in the election of two new members of the ENTOG executive: Laurids Touborg from Denmark and Alexandra Kristufkova from Slovakia and our own UK trainee Maud van de Venne was elected as ENTOG president.

The future

Scotland will host the 2014 ENTOG exchange and the joint EBCOG and ENTOG meeting will take place in Glasgow from 5–10 May 2014.

This is set to be a fantastic week with an inspiring educational programme.

If you are interested in being an exchange then please look out for the invitation for applications which will be emailed to you by your trainee representative. There will also be an opportunity to present work or attend the congress.

The exchange will be hosted by the Netherlands in 2015 and Turkey in 2016 and there has never been a better time to get involved with ENTOG.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in Glasgow.

Dr Anna Fabre-Gray MRCOG

UK ENTOG representative