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EUROPALS - European Pathology Assessment & Learning System

Pathology is a medical specialty that provides the histological (microscopical) diagnoses in clinical settings. Every diagnosis is made by the pathologist himself after microscopic examination of the cells and tissues that are removed from a patient, and this diagnosis is the golden standard for further decisions on treatment and prognosis. At this moment (and in the foreseeable future) there is no technology that can replace a pathologist. For example, every diagnosis of cancer is made this way. There are approximately 9000 pathologists and 1500 residents (junior doctors) in the EU. Despite the fact that the basis of the profession of pathologists throughout the EU is quite identical, there are significant differences in the quantity and quality of trainings and practice. This is partly due to limited availability in some countries of modern techniques that can be used in the diagnostic process, and partly to the rapid changes in the understanding of the aetiology and pathogenesis of diseases, resulting in new diagnostic approaches. Many practising pathologist lose contact with these developments for several reasons. The main goal of this Network is to harmonise Pathology training in Europe, and improve mobility opportunities. This is done by defining common end terms for trainees and by providing an easily accessible Assessment and Learning System that can be used as a lifelong continuing education system for pathologists, from the moment that they start their specialist training, until the moment that they retire. The intention is to develop a user friendly system that can be used both for examinations on a European scale and for assessment of individual competences on an anonymous level. The system not only tests, but is interactive in the sense that it explains situations in which a test participant fails. Another property of the system will be that it can provide individuals information about their performances compared to colleagues who are in the same situation (training time, experience as a specialist doctor) as they are. This acts as an incentive for further study. Harmonisation of training can contribute to alleviate shortage of professionals in this specialty, which exists in some countries. In order to achieve this, the Network will organise the meetings and workgroups to define the common end terms and to develop the Pathology Assessment & Learning System.

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