In spring 2021, the EIM Greece National Center agreed to a partnership with the Greek Society of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) to organize a specialized training course for PM&R physicians. The purpose of the training was to demonstrate the value of prescribing individualized physical activity for the prevention of, and as a complementary treatment for, chronic diseases and to encourage national health care organizations to adopt principles of exercise prescription.
The idea for this training course started after EIM Greece’s success in advocating to the Central Health Council of Greece (KESY) that exercise should be a part of the national health guidelines and its subsequent recognition as a complementary therapy for chronic diseases. This recognition set the stage for the collaboration with the Board of Directors of the Greek Society of PM&R, which grew through successive meetings, the development of mutual trust, and a desire to implement exercise prescription into PM&R practice.
The resulting training course, "Exercise Prescription by EIM Greece,” was developed and offered to PM&R physicians. The course was led by a series of esteemed university faculty, mainly from the field of exercise science, as well as lecturers from the fields of sports medicine, cardiology, pulmonology, and neuropsychology. ACSM leaders Joseph Ihm, MD and Robyn Stuhr (EIM VP) also contributed important content to the training course.
Approximately 50 PM&R physicians from all over Greece participated and completed the initial training course, which started April 2021 and was completed in October 2021. The course included 60 hours of direct instruction on theory and application (i.e., workshop sessions) of exercise prescription principles, exercise physiology, clinical exercise physiology, and clinical case studies. The main sections of the curriculum included:
Altogether, the course consisted of 600 hours of learning engagement (e.g., utilization of e-learning material such as the ACSM Clinician’s Guide to Exercise Prescription and ACSM Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription). At the completion of the course, knowledge and skill attainment was assessed by a final written and a series of practical exams. Trainees who passed the final exam received a course completion certificate in exercise prescription from the EIM Greece National Center.
With the successful completion of the first training, the program has been accepted into the national system of continuous medical education for medical specialties by the Panhellenic Medical Association. EIM Greece plans to adapt this training course on exercise prescription for other medical specialties (e.g., endocrinologists), and organize more specialized/advanced training courses focusing on the implementation of exercise in specific clinical populations for physicians who have passed the initial training course.