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Postcards from the field


Field placements
During their 2-year fellowship, EPIET fellows are placed in different training sites. EU-track fellows are assigned for the remaining 23 months to an EPIET training site in a country different from their country of origin. MS-track fellows return to their country of origin to be trained there. Currently, participating countries and organisations include the EU Member States, Switzerland and Norway. Institutes selected to host an EPIET 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 and the quality of training supervision available for fellows. During these placements, the 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. Scientific presentations at scientific meetings and congresses, as well as communication with the public and involvement with decision-making bodies are encouraged.

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 aims to inspire strong motivation for field investigation. The course teaches intervention epidemiology using case studies and interactive teaching methods, including:  

  • 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 analyze 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 and case studies based on real investigations. Read more about EPIET courses

Training modules
In addition to the three-week introductory course, fellows take part in seven one-week modules that are designed to ensure that core competencies are reached.

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 project supervisors for the projects they are involved in. Overall, supervision on site should cover on average four hours per week. Supervisors are also asked to facilitate in EPIET training modules.

Technical support is also provided at a distance by the EPIET training programme coordinators to ensure that all fellows have equal opportunities to develop their knowledge base and skills. There is close monitoring and regular visits of the programme at training sites, so that the training meets the needs of individual fellows, as well as the broader educational objectives of the programme. The activities of the programme are regularly reviewed, to ensure that it keeps abreast of needs and developments within the European network, and with partners further a field.

During their field placements EPIET fellows meet thrice at the European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (ESCAIDE), which is the annual conference of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). At these conferences fellows have the opportunity to share their experience of the fellowship, present the results of interventions and research and to evaluate their progress towards achieving the programme objectives. These activities inform the development of the programme. For prospective candidates, attendance at these conferences gives good insight into the breadth of activities of the programme and an understanding of some of the work, which was undertaken during field placements.

The EPIET programme is funded by ECDC. EPIET EU-track fellows receive individual grants during their fellowships and reimbursement for social benefits and removal. EPIET MS-track fellows receive the local salary from their training institutes.

ECDC funds travel costs (travel, accommodation and daily expenses) to EPIET modules for all EPIET EU- and MS-track fellows.