Academic general practice/family medicine in times of COVID-19 - Perspective of WONCA Europe

Eur J Gen Pract. 2020 Dec;26(1):182-188. doi: 10.1080/13814788.2020.1855136.


COVID-19 outbreak has significantly changed all aspects of general practice in Europe. This article focuses on the academic challenges for the discipline, mainly in the field of education, research, and quality assurance. The efforts of the European Region of the World Organisation of National Colleges, Academies, and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (WONCA Europe) to support academic sustainability of the discipline in the time of pandemic are presented. Medical education was affected by the pandemic, threatening both its productivity and quality. Emerging new educational methods might be promising, but the results of their rapid implementation remain uncertain. A relatively small number of publications related to COVID-19 and general practice is available in the medical literature. There is a shortage of original data from general practice settings. This contrasts with the crucial role of GPs in fighting a pandemic. COVID-19 outbreak has opened widely new research areas, which should be explored by GPs. Maintaining the quality of care and safety of all patients during the COVID-19 pandemic is the utmost priority. Many of them suffer from poor access or inadequate management of their problems. Rapid implementation of telemedicine brought both threats and opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic also challenged doctors' safety and well-being. These aspects will require discussion and remedy to prevent deterioration of the quality of primary care. WONCA Europe is making a multi-faceted effort to support GPs in difficult times of the pandemic. It is ready to support future efforts to uphold the integrity of family medicine as an academic discipline.

Keywords: Infectious diseases; health care organisation and management; medical education; public health and community medicine; quality of care.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • COVID-19*
  • Education, Distance
  • Education, Medical*
  • Europe
  • Family Practice / education
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Family Practice / standards
  • General Practice / education
  • General Practice / methods
  • General Practice / standards
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Telemedicine