Venezuelan doctors study American family practice

By Joseph Altman Jr.

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Is family medicine the same as medicina familiar?

Three Venezuelan doctors in Tucson, as part of an international exchange program, have been experiencing the differences in family practice and language between their country and the United States.

Dr. Bill Ventres, clinical lecturer in the department of family and community medicine, is hosting the trio, who are in a three-week exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Information Agency. The USIA also sponsors the Fulbright scholarships.

Last year, Ventres was a Fulbright scholar teaching family medicine in residency programs in San Cristobal, Venezuela. That led to the current visit by Dr. Beatriz Granadillo, residency program director from Coro Falcon, Dr. Lucía Sánchez Parra, president of the Venezuelan Society of Family Practice Physicians in Caracas, and Dr. Carmen Rosa Velasco, coordinator of the Family Practice Service Education Department in San Cristobal.

"They have been in Washington, D.C., Kansas City and Tucson looking at how family medicine is developing in this country," Ventres said. "Specifically, they are in Tucson in a faculty development program ─ they are teachers of American medicine, learning skills they can take back to teach teachers how to teach better."

Ventres said that while family medicine has been a board-certified specialty in the United States for 25 years, it has had the same status in Venezuela for only the past ten years. He added that the United States has 428 family practice resi-

dency programs compared to Venezuela's 11.

He defined family practice physicians as "specialists in generalist care who have no bound of age, sex or specific kind of problem."

These doctors are becoming more important because "the main message is that all around the world in Latin America and the U.S., market forces are pushing family medicine to the forefront," Ventres said. "All around the world, people are looking for low-cost, quality care. Family medicine is the model that people are turning to."

During their time in the United States, the Venezuelans have been visiting clinics and medical schools to get a global perspective of the practice of medicine and medical education.

Through a translator, Granadillo said the group has "observed medical education in action."

Parra said the visit has allowed them to have "a close look at how family practice develops programs."

Velasco said, "We have a lot of work ahead of us. We think learning is a lifelong process. We're learning from each other's experiences and taking a lot of information into our country.

"We hope to be able to continue our relationships here and promote an exchange of family practice residents and have family practice physicians come to Venezuela."

Ventres, Granadillo, Parra and Velasco will be speaking at the College of Medicine today from noon to 1 p.m. Ventres said they will discuss the status of family medicine worldwide and the history and aspects of family medicine in Venezuela. The presentation is open to the public.

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