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H-Net (Hematology-Net) is a network of organizations of hematology, education and IT that aims to promote the harmonization of training in hematology in Europe. H-Net is an EU project founded by the Leonardo Programme. It started in October 2008 and will continue until the end of September 2011.
H-Net invites young hematologists (graduated after 2004) to participate in a Europe-wide survey that will, in the end, allow for optimal specialty and continuing education and increased European mobility. Moreover, participating in the survey will give these hematologists first access rights to the Hematology Portfolio – the future website for hematologists – that is being developed by the H-Net project.
The role of the KMR group within H-net is to develop the Hematology Portfolio based on our Confolio system, especially the Organic.Edunet Confolio, and to adapt the Confolio system to the needs of the European hematological community. This includes competency-based search for semantically marked-up learning resources, and the support of automatic matching between self-diagnosed competency gaps of individual hematologists and suitable learning resources.
In 2005, the harmonization of training in hematology was already in the minds of a large number of national and international hematology organizations, when they jointly developed the European Hematology Curriculum Passport in the so-called ECAH project. Many of these organizations are now cooperating in the H-Net project. The Passport is a booklet designed for hematologists in training and lists the areas within the specialty. Trainees can tick off these areas by indicating the level they mastered, ranging from awareness to competence. The trainee’s mentor confirms completion of each area with a signature. The ECAH partnership, which included most European national societies of hematology, recommended to which degree these areas should be mastered at the end of the specialist training. This recommendation is the starting point of the H-Net project.
H-Net will survey recently graduated hematologists whose levels of competence will be compared to the Passport recommendation. This will yield two results. First, it should allow the Passport to be used in a real-life setting and raise awareness of the validity of the recommendations. Most likely, this will lead to a revision of some of its contents. Second, it will reveal variation in competences within the European hematological community and produce “the competence map of European hematology”. These results will enable future decision making to be based on fact rather than assumption.
It is up to the individual and the individual national society to decide whether identified gaps of competence need to be addressed or not – naturally, differences in how hematology is organized in different countries will influence this decision. Based on the survey results and consequent decisions H-Net will modify existing educational tools and develop new ones to target competence gaps. Individuals, institutions, or nations may then choose to make use of these tools or develop tools of their own. Thus, the approach of H-Net to reach harmonization is decidedly bottom-up and in line with the open method of coordination of the Lisbon Strategy.
H-Net will allow individual hematologists and hematological organizations to create profiles (not unlike LinkedIn or MySpace) in the Hematology Portfolio. Again, the Passport will be utilized, this time to establish individual competence gaps. The Portfolio will link these to training opportunities supplied by organizations and proposed by colleagues. The Hematology Portfolio is unique in its potential to grow into the professional network of hematologists throughout Europe.
H-Net will facilitate an open discussion between hematologists, educators, and national and European policy decision makers. The main focus of the debate will be the question whether and how national and international authorities can commit to the harmonization of the European hematology curriculum. In addition, these policy activities will give hematology political exposure at the European level.