According to the World Health Organization, a feldsher (German: Feldscher, Polish: Felczer, Czech: Felčar, Russian: фельдшер, Swedish: Fältskär) is a health care professional who provides various medical services limited to emergency treatment and ambulance practice. In Russia and in other countries of the former Soviet Union, feldshers provide primary-, obstetric- and surgical-care services in many rural medical centres and clinics across Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Uzbekistan.
The equivalent type of provider may also go under different titles in different countries and regions, such as "physician assistant" in the United States or "clinical officer" in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The International Standard Classification of Occupations, 2008 revision, collectively groups such workers under the category "paramedical practitioners".
The word Feldsher is derived from the German Feldscher, which was coined in the 15th century. Feldscher (or Feldscherer) literally means "field shearer," but was the term used for barber surgeons in the German and Swiss armies from the 17th century until professional military medical services were established, first by Prussia in the early 18th century. Today, Feldshers do not exist in Germany anymore, but the term was exported with Prussian officers and nobles to Russia. An All-Russia Union of Feldshers was founded in 1905. They were regarded as "Middle Medical Workers".
Today feldshers can be found in every medical setting from primary to intensive care. They are often the first point of contact with health professionals for people in rural areas.
Education and training
Training for feldshers can include up to four years of post-secondary education, including medical diagnosis and prescribing. They have clinical responsibilities that may be considered midway between those of physicians and those of nurses. They do not have full professional qualifications as physicians.
The training program typically includes 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.
- Allied health professions
- Clinical officer, a similar category of health care provider in sub-Saharan Africa
- Health care providers
- Medical assistant
- Physician assistant, a similar category of health care provider in the United States
World Health Organization (2010). "Occupation group: Paramedical practitioners. Feldsher (Examples of occupations)" (PDF). Classifying Health Workers. Geneva. page 4/14 in PDF.
Ambulance workers. ISCO code: 2240.
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