Feldsher (German: Feldscher, Polish: Felczer, Russian/Cyrillic: Фельдшер) is the name of a health care professional who provides various medical services in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, mainly in rural areas. For example, feldshers provide primary, obstetrical and surgical care services in many rural medical centres and ambulatories across Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The equivalent type of provider may also go under different titles in different countries and regions, such as physician assistant in the US or clinical officer in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, collectively grouped under the category “paramedical practitioners” in the International Standard Classification of Occupations, 2008 revision.
The name Feldsher is derived from the German term Feldscher, which was coined in the 15th century. Feldscher or Feldscherer means field shearer ("Feld" = Field, "Scher" comes from the geman term "Scherer" = shearer, thus "Feldscher" = fieldshear), and was the name of the barber surgeons in the army going back to the 17th century. They worked as army field surgeons for the German and Swiss Landsknecht until real military medical services were established by Prussia in the early 18th century. The term was then exported with Prussian officers and nobility to Russia.
Today feldshers can be found in every medical setting from primary to intensive care. They are often the first point of contact for the rural population with health professionals.
Education and training
Training programs for feldshers can be up to four years of postsecondary education, including in medical diagnosis and prescribing. They carry out clinical responsibilities that may be considered mid-way between physicians and nurses. They do not have the full professional qualifications as physicians.
The training program typically included basic pre-clinical sciences (anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, laboratory subjects, etc.) and advanced clinical sciences (internal medicine and therapeutics, neurology and psychiatry, obstetrics, infectious diseases and epidemiology, preventive medicine, surgery and trauma, anesthesiology and intensive care, pediatrics, and other clinical subjects such as ophthalmology, otolaryngology, dermatology and sexually transmitted diseases, ambulance service and pre-hospital emergency medical care, army field medical-surgical training.
- Health care providers
- Allied health professions
- Clinical officer, a similar category of health care provider in sub-Saharan Africa
- Physician assistant, a similar category of health care provider in the United States
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