Background Patients general well-being is largely dependent on health care professionals. The education of these is therefore very important. It is more and more common using patients in the education of health care professionals. The Universities in Cyprus together with other health professional groups have shown interest in involving patients with RheumatoMusculoSceletalDiseases (RMDs) in the education of medical school students regarding RMDs. Besides discussing the disease, they will also learn about the obstacles faced by the patients as well as the impact on their daily life. Through this initiative, the hope is that early recognition and diagnosis is promoted as well as enhancing the knowledge and skills of future doctors.
Objectives The aim of this project was to implement a Patient Expert project in Cyprus League Against Rheumatism (CYPLAR), and through it train RMD patients to educate medical students and other healthcare professionals regarding RMDs. A learning partnership should be created between undergraduate medical students/healthcare professionals and the patient experts.
Methods CYPLAR approached the Swedish Rheumatism Association for collaboration in order to implement the Patient Expert Project in CYPLAR.Funding was received from the EULAR Knowledge Transfer Programme. The collaboration was planned to consist of two meetings, one in Sweden and one in Cyprus.
1. Sweden: Two patients, members of CYPLAR, with RMDs, together with a Rheumatologist from CYPRUS visited the Swedish Rheumatism Association in Stockholm to learn about the Patient Partner Project, and receive Patient Expert training.
2. Cyprus: Two Patient Partner Instructors from the Swedish Rheumatism Association went to Cyprus 6 months after to oversee the progress of the Patient Expert programme and to make an examination of the two Patient Partners educated in Stockholm.
Results The training session in Stockholm took place on May 2016, for two patients. They received training following the Swedish Patient Expert programme. This training was conducted by two Patient Expert Instructors, one rheumatologist and one Patient Expert. A visit to the Karolinska University Hospital with a tour of the Rheumatology Clinic and a Patient Expert demonstration was also included. The visit ended with a detailed plan formed for the implementation of the Patient Expert programme in CYPLAR.
The visit of the Swedish delegation took place in October 2016. Eight patients participated in the training. The training was made through workshops by the delegates from both organizations together with a Professor of rheumatology and a communication lecturer at the St George's University of London in Nicosia's establishments. Medical students were also involved in discussing their experience in being educated by patients. The programme also involved practice of joint examinations. The workshop was evaluated by the participants on the final day. After the workshop was concluded delegates spent a day discussing the event together. The programme was evaluated, and a future plan of action decided upon.
Conclusions The implementation of the patient expert programme was successful.10 new Patient Experts are now available in CYPLAR.The next generation of health professionals will benefit and get a larger understanding of RMD's and in the end, the patients will benefit because the health care staff has a greater knowledge.
Disclosure of Interest None declared