Public Health in Portugal
Portugal currently has no nation-wide organization that represents all Public Health residents exclusively – we have four regional committees (North, Center, Lisbon and Tagus Valley and Alentejo). These regional committees are a legal requirement in Portugal and are elected for three-year periods and each is composed between three and five public health residents. These committees exist since December 2011 and have been working together on national and international matters. We are part of Euronet MRPH since May 2012.
The committees organize a mailing list, a newsletter and an annual meeting to all Public Health residents. We also have the formal responsibility of transmitting any problem that might arise with any resident as part of their training to the people responsible. Under this representative capacity we have also been involved in the current Public Health National Service Reform Process, where some of our residents have been very involved, to the point of even leading one of the working groups.
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Information about residency program
The Portuguese Public Health Residency (PHR) is regulated by a broader General Law on Medical Residencies. Under that general law, there is a specific law on the PHR, that specifies how the residency program should be. It is revised every 5 years.
In order for you to do the PHR in Portugal you have to be a recognized medical doctor by the Doctors' National Professional Association (Ordem dos Médicos). You will then have to do a national exam that takes place once each year (focusing on Harrison’s Internal Medicine chapters about Pneumology, Gastroenterology, Hematology, Cardiology and Nephrology). After that, you will start your residency with a general one year program that all medical residents must follow (rotating through different specialties). During that year you will learn your score in the national exam and that score will determine your rank in choosing a spot for your residency (thus choosing your specialty training and the main place of training).
Duration of training
Once you get into the specific PHR, you'll have 5 internships:
- Community Medicine - lasts 12 months - takes place in your chosen local Public Health Service - you are supposed to learn what a local public health service does, the community you now serve and what are the daily tasks of a Public Health professional.
- Public Health specialization course - lasts 12 months - takes place in a recognized academic institution by the Public Health Committee of the Doctors' National Professional Association (Colégio de Especialidade de Saúde Pública da Ordem dos Médicos) - You are supposed to learn about the main public health related sciences. It is similar to the academic part of a masters in public health. There are currently 3 institutions in Portugal providing this training, but some residents have chosen to do a masters in the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands, for example.
- Epidemiological research - lasts 5-6 months - takes place at a local, regional or national public health related service - you are supposed to learn in practice what it takes to do an epidemiological research project.
- Intervention - lasts 9-10 months - takes place in your local public health service - you are supposed to design, implement and evaluate a public health related intervention.
- Consulting or auditing - lasts 5 months - takes place at a local, regional or national public health related service - your are supposed to design and perform an audit related to a public health topic or service.
- Optional - lasts 3 months - takes place at a local, regional, national or international public health related service - you are supposed to design and deliver on an internship of your choice, as long as it is related with public health and has the initial approval of the hosting institution and the Public Health Committee of the Doctors' National Professional Association (Colégio de Especialidade de Saúde Pública da Ordem dos Médicos).
End of training assessment method
Each of this internships have a specific way of evaluation, mainly through exams, reports, presentations and assignments. At the end of the residency program you have a general evaluation where you have 3 steps:
- A CV discussion, where you discuss your CV with a jury
- A written exam, where all medical residents that are evaluated in that period will have to perform at the same.
- An oral exam, that might address any public health topic that your jury might find relevant.
After, you end your residency, the majority of professional opportunities are within Local, Regional or National Public Health departments. There are also opportunities in universities, national organizations or certain health-related private companies (like consulting firms).
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