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 The fellowship experience

Introductory course

At the beginning of the fellowship, fellows are required to participate in a three-week introductory course, which provides basic knowledge of intervention epidemiology and public health microbiology. The course aims to inspire strong motivation for multidisciplinary field investigation. The course uses case studies and interactive teaching methods. New fellows can expect to learn how to:

  • Combine field epidemiology and public health microbiology techniques for risk assessment and investigations in the field of communicable diseases prevention and control;
  • Analyse surveillance data in light of the limitations of the surveillance system;
  • Investigate an outbreak to propose public health recommendations;
  • Apply simple statistics to analyse epidemiological and laboratory data;
  • Use analytical epidemiology to examine associations between exposures and outcomes while taking into account bias, confounding and effect modifications;
  • Design, prepare and conduct an applied research project;
  • Communicate results of field investigations to various stakeholders (e.g., scientists, press, public, decision makers).
 

All lectures are supported by exercises, case studies and problem-based learning; all based on real investigations.

Training modules

In addition to the introductory course, fellows take part in several one-week modules that are designed to ensure that core competencies are reached. The number of modules differs according to which pathway has been chosen.

EPIET field placements

Individual fellows are placed at specific training sites for the duration of their two-year fellowship. Following the introductory course, EU-track fellows are assigned to a training site in a country different from their country of origin. During their placements, fellows are actively involved in field investigations, carry out surveillance and related research activities and get acquainted with laboratory methods relevant to epidemiological investigations. Usually, these activities are at national or regional level, but there are also opportunities to participate in international missions. Presentations at scientific meetings and congresses, as well as communication with the public and involvement with decision-making bodies, are encouraged.

For more information on EPIET epidemiology please view the scientific guide.

Institutes selected to host a fellow are those with responsibilities for communicable disease surveillance, epidemiology, and public health advice. The training site selection criteria include an assessment of the centre's potential for the practice of intervention epidemiology or public health microbiology and the quality of training supervision available for the fellows.

EUPHEM field placements

In addition to the introductory course, 7- to 8-week training modules offer more specialised training relevant to the core competency for the public health microbiologists. Following the introductory course, fellows spend 23 months at a training site in an EU Member State. Training institutes selected to host EUPHEM fellows are those with responsibilities for public health microbiology.

The fellowship can include:

  • planning and executing a safe and efficient diagnostic approach to an outbreak investigation;
  • evaluating, designing or managing a disease-specific laboratory or combined surveillance system;
  • planning, developing and conducting a research project on a relevant public health issue;
  • getting acquainted with epidemiological methods;
  • assisting in public health decision-making;
  • performing an audit of a laboratory, organising an external quality assessment (EQA)
  • presenting and publishing results of work to the scientific community;
  • writing and submitting a scientific article to a peer-reviewed journal;
  • teaching public health microbiology;
 

Supervision

Training supervision is provided in two ways. Day-to-day supervision is the responsibility of the main supervisor at the training site. In addition, fellows may have different supervisors for the projects they are involved in. On average, supervision on-site should fill four hours per week. Supervisors are also asked to facilitate EPIET/EUPHEM training modules.

Technical support is also provided at a distance by the EPIET/EUPHEM programme coordinators to ensure that all fellows have equal opportunities to develop their knowledge base and skills. There is close monitoring of the programme and regular visits to training sites to ensure that training meets the needs of individual fellows, as well as the broader educational objectives of the programme. Training activities are regularly reviewed to ensure they follow progressions within the European network and with partners further afield.

Selection process

The EPIET EU- and MS-track follow different selection procedures. Read more about the different processes on the Apply for fellowship pages.

ESCAIDE

During their field placements EPIET and EUPHEM fellows meet at ESCAIDE (the European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology), an annual conference jointly organised by ECDC, the Fellowship Programme, EAN (EPIET Alumni Network), and TEPHINET EUROPE. At ESCAIDE, fellows have the opportunity to share their experience of the fellowship, present the results of interventions and research and to evaluate their progress towards the programme objectives. These activities inform the development of the programme. For prospective candidates, attendance at this conference gives good insight into the breadth of activities of the programme and an understanding of some of the work undertaken during field placements.

Funding

The ECDC Fellowship Training programme is funded by ECDC and by the participating training sites in the Member States. EU-track fellows receive salaries from training sites which sign a grant agreement with ECDC during the fellowships. EPIET MS-track fellows receive the local salary from their training institutes. The participating institutes fund the salaries of supervisors and facilitators, as well as the costs for office space and national field work of the fellows.

In addition ECDC funds travel costs (travel, accommodation and daily expenses) to EPIET/EUPHEM modules for all EPIET EU- and MS-track fellows, salaries of scientific coordinators and training opportunities for supervisors.

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