How to Be Cooperative in a Competitive System: The Multi-Professional and Multicultural Face of European Health Care Education

By Beyers, Anne | Journal of Allied Health, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

How to Be Cooperative in a Competitive System: The Multi-Professional and Multicultural Face of European Health Care Education


Beyers, Anne, Journal of Allied Health


This article discusses the Bologna Declaration, in which 29 European countries have voluntarily committed to standardizing the various systems of higher education, including the education of health care professionals. One of the purposes of the Bologna Declaration is to attract students and income from abroad in order to rival the United States and Australia. An important consideration regarding the impact of the restructuring process is whether it will also contribute to the enhancement of interdisciplinary and intercultural cooperation, which are major factors influencing quality of life for both patients and health care workers. J Allied Health 2005; 34:117-120.

Over the past year, the journal of Allied Health has featured two articles about health care in the European Union (EU). While the structure and government of the EU is far different from that of the United States, the EU's experience in integrating diverse cultures into a workable health care system has held lessons for us.

The current article, written by the former president of Cohehre (Consortium of Institutes of Higher Education in Health Care and Rehabilitation in Europe), Dr. Anne Beyers, looks at the nature of health care education. Dr. Beyers discusses the Bologna Declaration, a bold attempt to standardize higher education in EU countries. This would, in theory, facilitate mobility of students and graduates throughout the EU by establishing transferable credits and degree requirements in colleges and universities through the 29 countries signing the document. Education of health care professionals would be part of this system.

Dr. Beyers also discusses a major challenge to implementation of the Bologna Declaration in terms of the manner in which health care professionals are educated. Will education be strictly based on Western ideals of scientific rationality and economic goals (competition), or will it include a humanistic, quality-of-life perspective (cooperation)? One of Cohehre's responsibilities is to grapple with this difficult issue as the EU moves forward with the Bologna Declaration.

LAURIE N. SHERWEN, PHU, FAAN

Contributing Editor

School of Health Professions

Hunter College

New York, NY

TO BECOME a good professional, one needs good training. Until now, every European country has had its own concept of what "a good health care professional" should represent. Most countries have already exchanged ideas, worked on international study programs, and introduced international student and staff exchanges between institutions and diverse disciplines. For many years, the European Commission invested millions of euros on international cooperation in the field of higher education. In June 1999, European countries came to an agreement to restructure the European higher education area to overcome the gap between the integration of the European business market (1992) and the more national-oriented character of educational grades and degree structures. The agreement is called the Bologna Declaration. The Bologna Declaration process represents major changes in the European system of higher education. European higher education will be standardized and packaged to attract students and income from abroad in order to rival the United States and Australia. A flexible system of lifelong learning in the international and multicultural European framework should support and balance employability within the European region and prevent the "brain drain" to other continents that invest more in research and innovation. Europe could even become attractive to scientists and specialists from other parts of the world and might contribute to innovation and development on a worldwide scale.

People involved in health care are aware of the fact that health care is closely related to quality of life and human dignity. Therefore, educating health care workers challenges not only the educational system and its educators but the health care system and its health care workers as well. …

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