What challenges lie ahead for the Pulmonology specialty?

Miguel Barreco.

Miguel Baruecopulmonologist and professor of medicine, hung up his gown for good on September 6 after twelve years as Head of the Pulmonology Service of the University Clinical Hospital of Salamanca and for more than forty-six years practiced as a physician. A professional career that began in 1976 in Villapando (Zamora) and was marked by continuous changes in specialty.

“The doctor’s mission is to prevent disease, to try to cure it when it occurs and to mitigate its consequences,” said the pulmonologist in a farewell letter that he himself published, in which he acknowledged that “he devoted all his efforts to these forty-six years beside him, an effort a profession that has been modified over timeas circumstances and medicine itself have changed”.

In fact, for Barueco, the most important change that pulmonology underwent during his professional career was “all those related to technological progress“. “We have gone from a core clinical specialty that is complemented by bronchoscopy and spirometry to a specialty that has developed multiple areas of activity such as invasive techniques, complex lung function studies, sleep studies and, more recently, Non-invasive ventilation“, he explains to Medical writing.

How has pulmonology developed in recent years?

Barrueco also mentions the development of lung transplantation as another of the great advances in pulmonology in recent years. “Although some believe that this is primarily a surgical activity, it implies a fundamental intervention of pulmonologists throughout the process,” he admits to this newspaper, admitting that “the changes are so many that pulmonology of the seventies and today have very little in common’.

On the other hand, Barrueco also qualified the therapeutic progress as “impressive”. “Today we can treat diseases that not so many years ago would have seemed like a dream: cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension or biological treatments for asthma,” he says, admitting that he can’t ignore either. “The role of pulmonology in the prevention and treatment of smoking.”the real epidemic of our century”.


“There have been so many changes.
that the pulmonology of the seventies
and the present one has very little to do”


In addition, the pulmonologist also highlighted the difficulties he encountered when he practiced most of his professional career in the provincial capital. “Working in it is associated with more difficulties than in big cities, where they accumulate more resources and have greater opportunities for development,” says Barueco. An aspect which, as he himself states, is conditioned “by the creation of different health services in each of the autonomies’. “Probably more than the distinction between cities and provinces, the fragmentation of the National Health System and the different portfolios of services have an impact,” he adds in this regard.

The professor admits that in his case “the University Hospital of Salamanca represents a great fusion of forces between the hospital and the university” and that this situation, together with the creation in the last decade of Institute of Biomedical Research (IBSAL), allowed for greater development and growth, though always “very limited.” Similarly, it is stated that “the existence of a scientific society as Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Thoracic Surgery (Separ)”, which allows constant contact with colleagues from other cities and hospitals, “has greatly facilitated the professional development of the Office and the specialists who make it up”.

What challenges lie ahead for Pneumology?

Finally, regarding the challenges still facing the Pulmonology specialty, Barrueco admits that “great challenges lie ahead.” The first of them, “Increase the visibility of pulmonology to society in general and medical students in particular”.

It is also essential “to increase the presence of pulmonologists in the universitywe need associate professors, full professors and professors of pulmonology to teach students the content of this specialty and inspire them to become pulmonologists,” he adds, noting that “this greater presence of pulmonologists in the university is due to numerous difficulties that exist both in the accreditation process and in the lack of places in the university’s samples”.

“I believe that pulmonology has an attractive future ahead of it because the combination of the clinical aspects of the specialty, such as the care of chronic patients, and the development of new areas of activity will facilitate its growth,” says Barueco, acknowledging that “Pulmonology must follow the example of other medical specialties that have almost exponential growth”.

Although it may contain statements, data or notes from health institutions or professionals, the information contained in Medical Writing is edited and prepared by journalists. We recommend that the reader consult a health professional for all health-related questions.

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