The specialty of internal medicine covers a wide range of conditions affecting the internal organs of the body. Although some diseases specifically affect individual organs, the majority of common diseases - arteriosclerosis, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer may affect many internal organs of the body. Dr. Frank Bosch, President of the European Federation of Internal Medicine, explains how the organisation operates and what challenges it has to overcome.
Could you briefly present EFIM?
EFIM was founded in 1996 through a merge of AEMI (Association Européenne de Médicine Interne) and the Forum of Presidents to bring together the national societies of internal medicine across Europe.
The purpose of EFIM is to re-emphases the importance of internal medicine in patient care in a world of increasing specialisation. The Federation was formed because it was felt that internal medicine needed a more powerful voice in Europe both in scientific and political terms. Since its foundation the Federation has been active in many areas.
What challenges has the Federation had to overcome in recent years?
Historically the focus of the EFIM has been to be the scientific forum for Internal Medicine in Europe. There have been a number of very successful international congresses, but also some less successful. The journal is thriving, but is still not accessed by as many internists and the communication with the National Societies has been challenging.
Working groups have been very active and have produced several articles, mainly in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, which belongs to EFIM. Also successful Schools for Young Internists have been held. A European Curriculum is under construction.
What kind of events do you organise?
Frank Bosch: The key areas that EFIM is fully focused on are: EFIM Annual Congress, EJIM – the European Journal of Internal Medicine, ESIM – the European School of Internal Medicine, EFIM Exchange Programme, EFIM Clinical Research Seminar (together with the Foundation for the Development of Internal Medicine in Europe - FDIME) and EJCRIM – The European Journal of Case Reports in Internal Medicine.
We understand you are working on your 2016 and 2017 congresses already. What is the association's decision process concerning the organisation of your events? How do you decide on destinations and venues?
Frank Bosch: For years our congresses were organised in partnership with the national society who bid to host the congress. This structure appeared to be somewhat vulnerable for EFIM finances, if, for instance, the national society didn’t get enough sponsorship and had to cancel the congress. Therefore the Executive committee made a decision to create a high-quality scientific congress for Internal Medicine in Europe. We looked at different possibilities and estimated the capacity and the involvement of the active national societies. Based on all the estimation and the results of previous joint events held, we decided to have 2016 congress organised in Amsterdam and 2017 congress organised in Barcelona. We are in progress of selecting the PCO who is going to support us in making this event successful.
As an organisation, how sustainable are you?
Frank Bosch: EFIM as federation puts a lot of efforts on the responsible management of resource use. We are a paperfree organisation. Since EFIM does exist since 1996 and activities are steadily growing (for instance exchange program, FDIME bursaries for research periods in another country, construction of the European curriculum), the sustainability seems rather firm. Events mentioned earlier do attract sufficient interest to continue.
How do you see the future of the association?
We’ve been very busy trying to strengthen the position of Internal Medicine in Europe by working together more closely with many disciplines in Internal Medicine and beyond. EFIM is in process of building EU curriculum for internists. EFIM’s role is to represent its members at EU level, and keep them informed on EU matters that could affect them. Furthermore, we are involved in strengthening the role of the medical professional in a broader sense. Cooperation with the American College of Physicians (ACP) is fruitful and growing.
How would you summarise new trends in the association congress world?
The 2016 congress of Internal Medicine in Europe will be a very modern congress encompassing advanced technology. We will use social media, video streaming to different locations in Europe, discussion forums, etc. In our vision a congress should be able to let the attending doctors participate in an active environment. Through these innovative opportunities we hope to bring internists from around the world under one roof.
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