Introduction: Emergency medicine is characterised by rapid decision-making to help patients in life-threatening situations. For this purpose, special qualifications are necessary. The aim of our study was to evaluate the emergency medicine knowledge obtained during an obligatory postgraduate emergency medicine training programme that has been recently applied among Turkish physicians.
Methods: The training targeted all general practitioners (GPs) working in emergency units in the city hospitals, city-wide primary healthcare centres, public health offices, emergency services and private hospitals. Over an 8-month period between September 2004 and April 2005, seven individual groups of approximately 45 physicians were formed. Each group undertook an identical 5-day training programme and every participant completed identical pre-and post-training tests.
Results: Two-hundred and ninety-eight physicians participated in the training programme. The majority of participants were male (n=224, 75.2%), aged between 35 and 39 years (n=127, 42.6%), had been in the medical professional for 11 to 15 years (n=121, 40.7%), and were employed in city hospitals (n=102, 34.2%). Surprisingly, the majority of GPs had never participated in a postgraduate training programme before (n=166, 55.7%). Mean post-test scores of the participants were significantly higher than the pre-test scores (89.70%+/-12.41% vs 43.15%+/-10.47%, respectively; P<0.001). Mean pretest scores were significantly higher in the emergency services subgroup (51%, P=0.001) and in the subgroup of participants that had previously undertaken two or more postgraduate training courses (47.9%, P=0.004) compared with the mean pre-test scores of the other subgroups. However post-test scores were not statistically different between the groups.
Conclusions: This postgraduate emergency medicine training programme appears to be effective in improving physicians' knowledge regarding emergencies. Any developing emergency medicine system in Turkey should include continuous, up-to-date, standardised educational programmes for emergency professionals. These may include postgraduate workshops to improve the knowledge and skill levels of emergency professionals.