A group of doctors from southern Alberta are ready to put their newfound ultrasound skills to good use.
On October 12 and 13, RhPAP sponsored the popular Emergency Department Echo (EDE, pronounced “Eddie”) Course in Claresholm, a community nestled on the border of the foothills between Calgary and Lethbridge.
There were 17 physicians and one physician’s assistant who arrived at the Claresholm Aquatic Centre where eleven beds, six EDE instructors, and dozens of local volunteer models awaited them.
With a variety of local volunteer “patients” to work with throughout the weekend, the first day focused on review and direct teaching of course material that the participants had already read online, while the second day was eight-hours of scan time in a “boot-camp” fashion. Each doctor was given six minutes on the clock to get in as many approved scans as he or she could before handing the probe to the next participant.
This is a phenomenal opportunity for learning. I can’t say enough how happy I was today at the end of the course. — Dr. Kish Lyster, EDE Course instructor
By the end of the second course day, participants had the opportunity to check off close to half their 50 required scans, which must be supervised by a doctor with Canadian Point of Care Ultrasound Society (CPoCUS) certification. Two additional days will be held on February 1 and 2, 2019 to allow the participants to complete CPoCUS certification requirements.
“This is a phenomenal opportunity for learning,” said EDE Course instructor, Dr. Kish Lyster, adding participants were able to see both normal and abnormal versions of anatomy. “I can’t say enough how happy I was today at the end of the course.”
Dr. Roisin Dempsey, local organizer and family physician in Claresholm, said she was inspired to bring the EDE course to her hometown after hearing positive feedback from friends who had taken the course elsewhere.
With limited access to diagnostics in smaller centres, Dempsey said she wanted to utilize the equipment they had, including a point-of-care ultrasound machine, and ensure they were giving their patients the best possible care.
“That’s the overall goal, to improve our patient care in rural medicine,” Dempsey said.
Participant Dr. Patrick Bailey, a family physician from Carstairs, said he feels the skills he learned will give him peace of mind when examining patients, enabling him to rule out serious injuries such as inter-abdominal bleeding after blunt trauma, confirming an intrauterine pregnancy, or checking for fluid in the abdomen.
Dr. Reid Hosford, a family physician and anesthesiologist from Pincher Creek, said the point-of-care ultrasound will help rural doctors manage their patients through better diagnostics and help during conversations with specialists. He appreciated how he could attend such a quality course so close to home.
“I know lots of other doctors who are traveling across multiple provinces or across the country to get this ultrasound training,” said Dr. Hosford. “I think more and more physicians are realizing this is a very important tool, and it is almost becoming standard of care in a lot of areas.”
One of the most challenging aspects of the job, according to Claresholm’s Dr. Scott Smith, is diagnosing the underlying cause of undifferentiated pain, and ultrasound can help with that.
“I think as we get better at it, as we implement this … we can just make sure the patient is getting the care they need,” Smith said.
Participating doctors came from eight communities, including Banff, Carstairs, Claresholm, Milk River, Pincher Creek, Taber, Standoff, and Vulcan.
Several of Dr. Dempsey’s colleagues, including Dr. Jeff Jones; Cindee Schlossberger, manager at the Claresholm Medical Clinic; and April Campbell, Medical Office Assistant for Dempsey; as well as RhPAP, Dr. Ray Wiss (course creator) and the EDE Team, worked with the Claresholm community to make the course a success.
After Dempsey put out the call for community volunteers, every slot for both the Friday and Saturday sessions were full within two days.
“Huge kudos out to the local team and the local community for rallying around this cause and coming out to volunteer,” Lyster said.
RhPAP is looking forward to bringing this course to as many as six more communities in the coming months and already connecting with other rural doctors who could benefit from training such as this.
/ Article and photos by Alicia Fox