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Brona Fullen shares her vision as European Pain Federation President:

As some-one who strongly believes in the Federation’s vision and mission it is an honour to serve in this capacity. It was a bold decision for EFIC to elect a physiotherapist as President. In doing so EFIC sends out an unambiguous message that we, as an organisation are progressive, inclusive and multidisciplinary. I thank the Council for putting their trust in me. I will continue to serve the pain medicine members of our national chapters as well as increasing offerings to allied professionals, cognisant of the divergences across Europe in terms of multi-professional practice. Today I would like to share an overview of my Presidency plan. These will undoubtedly be impacted by the ongoing COVID crisis. I do not include them all, rather those that are new or urgent.

My vision for EFIC rests on these four key strands:

  1. Championing EFIC’s mission to provide leadership for the development of health policy at European Union (EU) and national level.
  1. Advancing our educational portfolio for physicians, increasing engagement with our primary care colleagues and strengthening our interprofessional pain education approach to standardise pain education and knowledge.
  1. Expanding EFICs profile as a vibrant hub for research grant collaborations and partnerships, and as a developer of position papers / recommendations across the field of pain science.
  1. Empowering and further engaging with chapter members so that they are appreciated and feel there is a value in being part of the broad EFIC community.

The COVID crisis forces EFIC to revise how we deliver our key education initiatives. However, in the spirit of ‘never letting a good crisis go to waste’ I will prioritise the success of our virtual Pain Education Summit and the creation of an impactful online Education Platform. This will increase our reach and allow learners access to educational tracks mapped to the EFIC curricula. This can also provide a vehicle for capacity building with our primary care colleagues as well as for those living with pain. I look forward to the development of a new (interprofessional) Pain School model, as well as strengthening links between Pain School graduates to build community. In 2022 we will hopefully launch the final two new Diploma exams (nurses and psychologists), cognisant that all exams may move to virtual modes (at least partially). Finally, I would like to develop an infrastructure within EFIC for a buddy / mentorship system where disciplines / chapter members wishing to enhance their pain education activities could link with chapters that are further developed.

We must be the key organisation for driving policy change at an EU level underpinned by our Education and Research initiatives; amplified through the Pain Forum. Bringing the Societal Impact of Pain initiative ‘in-house’ affords us the opportunity to re-focus how we advocate for and with patients at an EU and national level to support chapter goals; building their campaigns and generating evidence to support policy change. I will continue the President’s campaign initiative instigated by Bart (On the Move), with a new campaign focusing on Health Literacy (Keep It Plain). Improving a patient’s ability to seek, understand and implement what is at times complex information will improve treatment adherence and outcomes. With our increasing use of virtual formats EFIC can also reach a broader patient audience with more patient-centred information.

There is much that EFIC can do to support the pain research community. Thankfully, we have had some recent successes in terms of placing pain on the EU research agenda, so now EFIC needs to position it-self as a key research collaborator / partner. The further development of links with funding organisations will also strengthen our profile and allow us to set and drive the research agenda. Like Education, I also wish to develop an infrastructure through which clinicians and researchers can find, connect, and develop professional networks to foster collaborations to answer relevant questions. This will also allow us to identify relevant experts who wish to support the various Research committee task force activities e.g. the development of expert position papers / recommendations on key health issues that will serve clinicians and inform health service needs. Whilst not a new initiative I will of course continue to support Luis Garcia-Larrea and his team with the great work they do with the European Journal of Pain. The executive office now includes a member with a basic science research background, facilitating our activities in 2020 and beyond.

A consultation brain-storm session with all EFIC councillors will take place early in 2021. I am keen for an exchange of ideas for the further development of our organisation. I will also present a series of actions that aim to implement the results of the last Council brainstorm. One key initial priority was greater support from EFIC on fundraising plans and event organisation. As these are strengths of EFIC, we will organise a workshop on these subjects open to all interested chapters.

While it is not easy to foresee a similar congress as Valencia, we have a solid congress operational model to deal with the changing landscape. Our finances are currently largely dependent on our biennial congress, but we are taking steps to diversify income streams. One key activity is the recently launched European Pain Federation Academy where individuals can benefit from a wide variety of professional development benefits including our new offering (Virtual Summit). Access will be promoted where needed, through tiered pricing that support participation by allied professionals as well as less economically developed countries.

These initiatives will develop and expand over time. As I accede as President, I would like to congratulate Bart on his very successful term as President of EFIC – his vision, leadership and energy have brought about many significant and positive developments which I will continue to drive. I also thank him sincerely for his support as I transition to my new role.

I look forward to working with you all to build our Federation and to support your priorities nationally.

Go raith maith agat (Thank you)

Brona Fullen