Medical education research


The European Respiratory Society (ERS) supports education and training in respiratory medicine through a range of activities. Over the years, we have developed several educational curricula covering different areas of respiratory medicine and care, and we continue to support research that aims to find out how to improve training and professional development.

Research projects

ERS supports PhD-level research projects that address training and assessment of respiratory specialists to boost learning and improve our offering of educational activities.

Carolin Selbach (2017–2019)

Objective: understand how re-validation is organised on an international level and how this supports medical specialists to remain competent while also identifying individuals who are under-performing.

First study: this study describes key characteristics and effective components of ten different European recertification systems, exploring similarities and differences in terms of assessment criteria used to determine process quality.

Second study: explores physicians’ perceptions and self-reported acceptance of and commitment to re-validation across three different re-validation systems in Europe, including: Germany, which has a mandatory, credit-based system oriented to continuing professional development; Denmark, with mandatory annual dialogues and ensuing, non-compulsory activities; and the United Kingdom, which uses a mandatory, portfolio-based revalidation system.

Third study: to answer increasing calls to include patients’ voices in quality assurance, this study explores patients’ perspectives on physicians’ lifelong learning and re-validation and their role in these processes. It describes how power dynamics affect and form different patient perspectives.


Sai Sreenidhi Ram (2019–ongoing)

Objective: understand how to improve large-scale online health professional conferences.

First study: this study aims to gain a better understanding of participants’ needs from online conferences and gather ideas for how to improve sessions. The findings will be used to inform future conferences.

Second study: to narrow the knowledge gaps of conference participants and improve their knowledge level, this study introduces innovative online conference session formats. The formats utilise a flipped-classroom approach by providing learners with pre-session online reading materials to study at their own pace, to deepen participants’ understanding during online sessions. Several short multiple-choice question tests will be provided to assess how successful this is and investigate how the innovative format is perceived.

Third study: this part of the study will introduce sessions that utilise a flipped-classroom approach as well as mentoring, to support learning and community building in online conferences. The aim is to support the integration of novice trainees/researchers into the community of practice.

Fourth study: the final study aims to determine if and how the online approaches offered in earlier phases of the study address the face-to-face networking/collaborative needs of conference participants. The findings will inform and improve future conferences.


ERS has developed several comprehensive programmes that provide harmonised education and training in respiratory medicine. Learn about the various curricula:

Adult respiratory medicine

This was the first project to be developed by ERS; the syllabus was initially published in 2006 followed by the curriculum in 2008. The syllabus has since been updated and was published again in 2018.

Objectives: to develop a European core syllabus and curriculum listing core competencies that all respiratory specialists should possess.

Target audiences: postgraduate trainees in respiratory medicine, trained specialists and allied health professionals.

Further information:

Curriculum and editorial (2008)

Syllabus and editorial (2018)

Paediatric respiratory medicine

This project was launched following the success of the adult respiratory medicine project. The paediatric respiratory medicine syllabus was initially published in 2006 followed by the curriculum in 2008. The syllabus has since been updated and was published in 2019.

Objectives: to update the first European syllabus for training in paediatric respiratory medicine, which was developed in 2002 outside of the ERS curricula projects using different methodology, and to raise standards in paediatric respiratory medicine.

Target audiences: postgraduate trainees in paediatric respiratory medicine, specialists in paediatric respiratory medicine, respiratory medicine specialists with an interest in paediatric respiratory medicine.

Further information:

Curriculum and editorial (2008)

Syllabus (2019)

Respiratory critical care

The respiratory critical care project was launched in 2009. The European core syllabus in respiratory critical care medicine was published in 2012, followed by the publication of the curriculum in 2014.

Objectives: to provide educational standards and a training framework in respiratory critical care medicine and to define the level of competence for adult respiratory physicians.

Target audiences: physicians who specialise in respiratory medicine, respiratory medicine physicians practicing critical care (or dealing with critically ill patients), and fellows/residents in respiratory medicine.

Further information:

Syllabus and editorial (2012)

Curriculum (2014)

Thoracic oncology

This project was developed in collaboration with representatives from the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons, European Society of Medical Oncology and the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology. The ERS HERMES thoracic oncology syllabus was published in 2013, followed by the publication of the curriculum in 2016.

Objectives: to comprehensively review of the current status of thoracic oncology training and certification in Europe and to examine how to raise thoracic oncology skill levels.

Target audiences: respiratory physicians, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and thoracic surgeons.

Further information:

Syllabus and editorial (2013)

Curriculum and editorial (2016)

Respiratory physiotherapy

Respiratory physiotherapy is not yet defined or structured as a sub-specialty in many European countries. To address this gap, the respiratory physiotherapy project was launched in 2012. The postgraduate respiratory physiotherapy syllabus was published in 2015 followed by the curricula in 2019.

Objectives: to develop a postgraduate respiratory physiotherapy programme for adult and paediatric care.

Target audiences: certified physiotherapists.

Further information:

Syllabus and editorial (2015)

Curriculum and editorial (2019)

Thoracic surgery

In response to disparities in training in thoracic surgery, and an existing UEMS-European Board examination that had evolved without agreed definitions of prerequisites, the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons and ERS launched a task force to develop a harmonised curriculum. The thoracic surgery syllabus was published in 2018 followed by the curriculum in 2020.

Objectives: to develop a harmonised syllabus and curriculum in thoracic surgery.

Target audiences: suitability for the programme is defined by module; trainees may use the programme to enter the subspecialty; later modules are suitable for trained thoracic surgeons to recertify; and allied health professionals as well as other specialty areas may participate for continuous professional development in thoracic surgery.

Further information:

Syllabus and editorial (2018)

Curriculum and editorial (2020)

Respiratory infections

The respiratory infections project was launched in 2014 in response to the lack of systems for training physicians in many European countries focused on this emerging field. The syllabus was published in 2018.

Objectives: to harmonise training and establish defined standards of knowledge and skills in respiratory infections.

Target audiences: respiratory physicians with a special interest in respiratory infections.

Further information:

Introductory editorial (2016) and syllabus (2018)

Respiratory sleep medicine

The respiratory sleep medicine project was launched in 2009. The European core syllabus was published in 2011 followed by the publication of the curriculum in 2015. Since 2017, ERS has held several ERS Respiratory Sleep Certified Training Programme courses.

Objectives:  to ensure a common set of standards and knowledge base is used by all in the daily practice of respiratory sleep medicine.

Target audiences: medical physicians and non-medical practitioners working in sleep clinics.

Further information:

Syllabus and editorial (2011)

Curriculum and editorial (2015)

ERS Respiratory Sleep Certified Training Programme


The spirometry project was officially launched in 2008 and the training programme outline and guidelines for certification were published in 2011. Several spirometry training programme courses have taken place since 2013.

Objectives: to harmonise training in spirometry throughout Europe, to establish and raise European standards in the skills required to qualify and practice as an expert in spirometry.

Target audiences: all healthcare professionals who require a comprehensive understanding of and basic skills in spirometry practice.

Further information:

Programme outline (2011)

ERS Spirometry Training Programme 

Endobronchial ultrasound

The endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) project was launched in 2015. The structured EBUS training programme was published in 2016 and the first EBUS Training Programme courses took place in that year.

Objectives: to investigate, formulate and implement a comprehensive training programme to train qualified doctors to independently and competently perform EBUS.

Target audiences: qualified medical doctors with previous experience of performing bronchoscopies, TNM (tumour, node, metastasis) classification of lung cancer, and staging of oncology patients and other conditions.

Further information:

EBUS programme outline and curriculum (2016)

ERS EBUS Training Programme

Thoracic ultrasound

The thoracic ultrasound project launched in 2018; the first ERS Thoracic Ultrasound Certified Training Programme courses were held in 2019.

Objectives: to train qualified doctors to independently perform thoracic ultrasound, in order to diagnose and treat patients with lung diseases.

Target audiences: pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, respiratory therapists, respiratory physicians, clinical researchers, radiologists, fellows and residents.

Further information:

ERS Thoracic Ultrasound Certified Training Programme


Continuing Professional Development project


ERS supported PhD publications