Background and objectives: There are few reports of systematic international physician development programs to create family medicine as a new specialty in a developing nation. This paper describes the process and outcomes of a large-scale effort to initiate new family medicine training through the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) using a 12-week US-based program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
Methods: Generalist physicians (n=134) with 1 year of internship training, currently working under the MOHP in Egypt, were competitively selected to participate in a training program at UCI between 1998 and 2002. Participants were assessed before, during, and after the program using multiple measures of competencies in family medicine topics, practice, and teaching. Aggregate participant data, post-program quality surveys, and follow-up surveys of the program's influence on practice behaviors comprised the main measures used for program evaluation.
Results: Participants showed improvement in knowledge and skills for family medicine practice and teaching for topics covered in the program. After returning to Egypt, 98% reported continued use of their newly acquired skills and knowledge. Participants reported that the program advanced their careers, they taught family medicine to other physicians, and they were likely to pursue certification under a newly established Family Medicine Board of Egypt. Self-reported practice in family medicine increased to 69% after the program versus 16% before.
Conclusions: Overseas training programs are a viable method of introducing family medicine as a new clinical specialty. Ingredients for successful implementation and barriers are discussed.