Despite the ever-increasing popularity of point-of-care ultrasound, access to adequate and appropriate training is still an issue for doctors wanting to introduce the technique into their everyday practice. Dr Stephen D’Souza, a consultant in interventional radiology at the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancashire, and a member of the FUJIFILM SonoSite faculty, explains some of the ways in which ultrasound training is being delivered to as many people as possible across the country.

The use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) has grown tremendously over the past couple of decades which, unsurprisingly, has driven a demand for training. In its infancy, training courses were few and far between, and held in only a couple of locations across the country. However, time constraints and tightening budgets have led to a need for local courses at venues spread across the country, rather than the more traditional model that relies on a single dedicated centre. By expanding its teaching faculty, FUJIFILM SonoSite is ideally placed to run courses whenever and wherever they are needed, enabling training to be delivered at a convenient venue local to those attending, regardless of their location in the UK.

Convenient and local

Delivering training closer to the participants is a time-saving and cost-effective option for both the hospital and the participant; attending a training course held locally decreases the amount of time away from the department, reduces travel costs and eliminates the need for – and expense of – overnight accommodation. Training staff in their own hospital can be particularly beneficial. Not only is it convenient, but it allows practical exercises to be carried out on the ultrasound systems in use in the department, rather than on unfamiliar machines. It may also be possible to scan patients attending the hospital. In addition, training an entire department on site – from nurses and junior doctors with limited experience through to more senior consultants – can really help to bring the team together.

However, there are inevitably some drawbacks to hospital training venues: access to the training room is usually only possible on the day, which can hamper delivery and set-up of the ultrasound systems; the room may have to be vacated by a specific time; and parking is often limited and costly. In addition, medical staff may not feel comfortable learning and practicing new-found skills in front of colleagues and patients. This has led to the use of hotels and conference centres as alternative training venues, which are often selected for their ease of access and ample free parking. Catering is readily available too and, with no radiation protection issues to consider, any room can be set up as required – often in advance. Skilled course tutors can create a supportive, non-judgmental learning environment away from the workplace, allowing delegates to meet like-minded clinicians and enjoy developing their skills in a relaxed atmosphere without the fear of making mistakes. It is even possible to extend the length of the course if necessary, ensuring that delegates fully achieve the learning objectives of the day.

Learning in relaxed surroundings

Regardless of the venue, creating an environment conducive to learning where everyone is at ease is essential for effective education of any kind. The faculty is a key factor here, for instance, a senior nurse practitioner tutoring fellow nurses will have the right perspective and context to apply the newly acquired skills to exactly what they will need in their daily work. Another important element, especially in practical sessions, is group size; small groups – typically four delegates to one trainer around a single ultrasound machine – ensure that all participants receive maximum hands-on experience. This also creates a more informal atmosphere where attendees are happy to ask questions, receive constructive feedback and learn by observing other participants. It is important too that the course content is delivered in a flexible way according to delegates’ previous knowledge of – and experience in using – ultrasound, making the day as relevant as possible, as well as meeting accreditation standards.

Ultimately, the ever-growing number of training courses taking place at venues across the country is opening up ultrasound education to more and more people, allowing them to get the best out of the systems they have purchased. No matter where a clinician is based in the UK, they are likely to find a conveniently located training course, enabling them to develop POCUS skills that can be applied in their daily practice.

Please visit our Courses page, to find the right course for you, now.

Stephen D’Souza discusses ultrasound education with FujiFilm SonoSite.