Meet Ioannis Karagiannis, Our Newest Accreditation Working Group Member!

Ioannis Karagiannis has been involved with TEPHINET’s Accreditation of Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs) since the very first cycle, when his own program, the United Kingdom (U.K.) FETP, housed within Public Health England, underwent the accreditation process with successful results. The U.K. FETP was one of the first three FETPs accredited by TEPHINET in 2016 (find all accredited programs here).

Ioannis is a graduate of EPIET (the European Program for Intervention Epidemiology Training) and has been supporting FETP trainees since 2009, mostly as a full-time EPIET and U.K. FETP coordinator. Apart from training, his main professional interests include global health, biostatistics and applied epidemiology methodology.

Wanting to help other FETPs improve their quality, Ioannis has volunteered his time and expertise as a TEPHINET Accreditation Review Team member for two out of four accreditation cycles. Recently, he was selected to be the next European regional representative for the TEPHINET Accreditation Working Group (AWG), a global committee of technical experts whose input guides the development of TEPHINET’s accreditation processes and procedures.

Q&A with Ioannis

Ioannis, thank you for your enthusiasm about accreditation! Why do you think it’s important for eligible FETPs to pursue it? What advice would you give programs preparing to apply?

Thanks for having me, it’s an honor to collaborate closer with TEPHINET! FETPs have a long history globally and have been set up under often very different circumstances. Accreditation from TEPHINET celebrates the fact that, no matter how different programs are, they have the same visions, strive for quality outcomes, and are inspired by the same principles at both a managerial and a technical level. The standards that TEPHINET has developed make sure no aspect of processes is left behind. Reviewing one’s FETP against these standards while applying for accreditation ensures that quality is not left behind while dealing with the nitty-gritty of running and delivering a program.

Without naming the specific programs you reviewed, since that is confidential, what were the highlights of your experience as an Accreditation Review Team member? As a reviewer, did you feel like you were able to provide useful feedback to the programs in terms of quality improvement?

For a program to apply for TEPHINET accreditation, a thorough examination of their processes is required, which also needs to be documented. When reviewing this documentation, a reviewer runs the risk of comparing the program under review with their own program or other programs they have worked for in the past. It is always been very revealing to see how very different set-ups work in different countries or regions and how local realities inspire the same objective around the world: to deliver well-run, state-of-the-art FETPs. It has also been very rewarding to work with other reviewers as a team in the time leading to the site visit, as well as during the visit itself, and benefit from their own insights and experience. I have been involved in the accreditation process of two FETPs as a reviewer; both myself and the other members of the accreditation review teams have felt, on both occasions, that the programs could be more extroverted and “export” their expertise in their own regions to establish FETPs or further field epidemiology.

What did you learn from the U.K. FETP’s accreditation process?

One of the most important things was to collect the data systematically so as to allow the accreditation review team to do their work. Collecting all needed information and putting it into a format for people who have no previous experience of the program allowed us to reflect critically on our own FETP and make sure we would be ready to take recommendations on board. A review essentially works like a “360 appraisal” and forces everyone in the program to reflect on their processes and the level of technical support they provide to the trainees. I cannot see how this cannot be beneficial to any FETP.

What’s next for the U.K. FETP in terms of program quality improvement?

This is a very exciting time in the quality improvement cycle of the U.K. FETP; we’ve recently completed an external evaluation which was overall very positive about the program and gives us some food for thought on curriculum updates. We will be holding our modules in a wider range of locations around the U.K. and look forward to that opportunity to further strengthen the links between field epidemiologists in all regions of the U.K. and the fellows in our program. We have recently established a new training base at Public Health Wales in Cardiff, increasing the diversity of training locations at which our fellows can learn.