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Highlights on the new ESC Core Curriculum 2013

This article is written by the author for the newsletter of the Council for Cardiology Practice.
It reflects the opinion of the author.

What was the objective of performing an ESC Core Curriculum?

It was to define a model of training in cardiology through Europe.

The previous version has been adopted as the standard for regulating training in cardiology, for access to certification and for revalidation in some countries.

Why is there a new 2013 ESC Core Curriculum?

The deep changes produced in cardiology practice over recent years have marked the need to renew the previous version. The changes include:

  • integration of hospitals
  • independent cardiologists
  • medical practitioners and other specialists treating patients with heart disease and/or other pathologies
  • and creation of Heart Teams.

At the same time the age of patients, their comorbidities and their expectations are rising.

Another important change has been the advances in knowledge, technology and management in different areas:

  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Interventionism (stents and percutaneous valves, electrophysiology and devices)
  • as well as new treatments (anticoagulant and antithrombotic)
  • together with the key role played by the multidisciplinary team in managing and treating heart failure.

The 2013 Core Curriculum outlines the knowledge and skills of general cardiologists and as the previous edition it is the framework for training and certification and furthermore Continuous Medical Education (CME) and recertification.

This document can help National Societies to face national authorities.

The Task Force decided to make an optimal program and believed necessary to recommend six years full-time postgraduate training to acquire the competence, of which four years dedicated to cardiology.

What are the differences compared to the previous version?

It has kept the same structure as the previous edition but with another format to make it more accessible on line.

The document is based on:

  • etiological knowledge and pathophysiology of the disease
  • clinical and communication skills
  • empathic relationship with patients and relatives and on teamwork.

General aspects of training and individual chapters have been updated in the first part of the document followed by 28 Chapters, each of them including objective statements: required knowledge, skills and behaviours and attitudes.

The format of some chapters has changed:

  • subdivided or renamed such as Non-Invasive Imaging, Cardiovascular Prevention etc.
  • others have expanded their fields: Cardiac Tumours has become Oncology and the Heart; Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology has become Physical Activity and Sport in primary and secondary prevention.

A new Chapter has been created on Acute Cardiovascular Care.

The role of Cardiac Consultant has been specified into different sections:

  • patients undergoing non-cardiac surgery
  • patients with neurological symptoms
  • and patients with symptoms that are not primarily related to cardiovascular disease (old age, chronic renal failure, diabetes, erectile dysfunction…).

The review process was based on the current ESC Guidelines.

The Task Force for the Curriculum is aware that the document sets an optimal standard for the training of general cardiologists while mindful that its application will depend on possibilities in each country. But it is true that it can be a very useful tool when negotiating with national authorities.

At the same time the general cardiologist gains importance in the health network.