Profª. Isabel Pavão Martins: The mission of the Portuguese Society of Neurology is to foster knowledge, research, and best clinical practices among its members.
To that effect, the Board organises two Scientific Meetings per year (The Neurology Conference in November and the Forum in May), in addition to courses and other training events. Besides, it distributes two publications published every six months among its members, Sinapse (a scientific magazine) and SPNs Mail (a periodical that disseminates activities carried out by SPN).
Newsletter: To what extent does SPN foster/encourage the teaching and scientific research of neurological sciences?
Profª. Isabel Pavão Martins: The Portuguese Society of Neurology has made it its remit to motivate and support its members in their research activities. To this end, it grants several Prizes and Scholarships.
The Prizes acknowledge the best Works presented at its own meetings or at international events, and some of them focus on a specific theme. With regard to scholarships, SPN grants scholarships that support internships in Neurology, through traineeships abroad, and Research Scholarships in Clinical Fields or in Epidemiology of neurologic diseases.
The Society of Neurology has also made available scientific research training courses to its members, and it regularly organizes courses, some of which are intensive, on Research Statistics and Methodology.
By making these courses available, we hope to meet the needs of the researchers-doctors which are not covered in specialised internships or in their general medical training. Besides these courses, SPN also organizes courses on clinical topics.
Newsletter: What is the role of SPN in its relationship with the Community, in what concerns medical care? – What is the relationship between SPN and society?
Profª. Isabel Pavão Martins: The Portuguese Society of Neurology has worked with other National Societies, namely with the Portuguese Neuroscience Society, in encouraging science dissemination sessions open to the public. Our website also receives many visits, and we receive correspondence directly from schools and various institutions, as well as individual requests for support or training, which we try to address. In addition, several SPN members participate regularly in interviews in the main Mass Media, where they divulge their experience and knowledge.
I would also like to refer that, during our meetings, we have had the presence of representatives of patient organizations and associations (either disease carriers or relatives and friends of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson disease, Neuromuscular diseases, Rare Disease Association, etc), which maintain a closer link with patients and the society.
Another important and innovative measure (at a national level) undertaken by SPN’s current Management Board was the setting up of an internal accreditation system for its members. These credits, conferred by the European Credit system (UEMS-EACME), to our conferences and Courses, are granted equivalence to the North American system, recognized internationally, and can be accumulated with those gained at other meetings. We are considering the development of an electronic recording system for internal use. We believe that this will help improve clinical practice and encourage lifelong learning.
Newsletter: What is the role of SPN in the network of relations between hospitals, faculties and research units/centres? What distinguishes the scientific society from other entities (hospitals, faculties, research centres/units?
Profª. Isabel Pavão Martins: Although the Portuguese Society of Neurology does not have a “formal” relationship with clinical or university centres, the truth is that practically all of its members are affiliated to this kind of institution.
The Portuguese Society of Neurology, as stated earlier, gives financial support to the internship in Neurology, through Research Scholarships.
Newsletter: What is the relationship between SPN and its international peers? How are these ties strengthened, and in what ways do you work together?
Profª. Isabel Pavão Martins: The Portuguese Society of Neurology has connections with the European Federation of Neurological Societies and with the World Federation of Neurology. Collaboration with these Societies is done in several ways, namely through the organization of joint scientific events (the next meeting of the European Neurological Society will take place in Lisbon, in collaboration with the Portuguese Society of Neurology). This cooperation also includes the exchange of students and doctors, and the participation of Portuguese specialists in the various panels of these societies. These panels establish guidelines, agreements and launch research programmes.
Newsletter: What has your Professional experience as a doctor, lecturer, researcher, and President of the SPN been like? How do you combine everything, and what are the advantages?
Profª. Isabel Pavão Martins: My experience of the last 3 years as President of the Portuguese Society of Neurology (November 2007 to November 2010), has proved very enriching and fruitful. It has been a great honour and a major responsibility to have been elected by the Portuguese Neurologists.
It was a privilege to have had the freedom to organise meetings, adjust topics to the needs of neurologists, and to have had the opportunity to invite and meet top scientific authorities in the different fields of Neurology.
My previous academic and scientific training, gained at this Academic Centre, was vital to be able to carry out the duties allocated to me. On the other hand, experiencing the Portuguese Society of Neurology from the perspective of the Board gave me a new insight about this type of organizations. I believe it was extremely enriching, particularly due to the contacts made. It also gave me an opportunity to have a better understanding of the situation in Portugal, and to know and be part of a wider scientific community, namely in Europe.