Background It is increasingly becoming evident that a strong primary health care system is more likely to provide better population health, more equity in health throughout the population, and better use of economic resources, compared to systems that are oriented towards specialty care. Developing and maintaining a strong and sustainable primary health care requires that a substantial part of graduating doctors go into primary care. This in turn requires that general practice/family medicine (GP/FM) strongly influences the curricula in medical schools. In the present paper we aim at describing the extent of GP/FM teaching in medical schools throughout Europe, checking for the presence of GP/FM curricula and clinical teaching in GP offices.
Methods A brief questionnaire was e-mailed to GP/FM or other professors at European medical universities.
Results 259 out of 400 existing universities in 39 European countries responded to our questionnaire. Out of these, 35 (13.5%) reported to have no GP/FM curriculum. These 35 medical faculties were located in 12 different European countries. In addition, 15 of the medical schools where a GP/FM curriculum did exist, reported that this curriculum did not include any clinical component (n?=?5), or that the clinical part of the course was very brief - less than one week, mostly only a few hours (n?=?10). In total, 50 universities (19%) thus had no or a very brief GP/FM curriculum. These were mainly located in the Eastern or Southern European regions.
Conclusion It is still possible to graduate from European medical universities without having been exposed to a GP/FM curriculum. The European Academy of Teachers in General Practice (EURACT) will launch efforts to change this situation.