Rural healthcare providers are benefiting from some Point of Care Ultrasound guidance at drop-in sessions led by Dr. Virginia Robinson.
The virtual sessions are run through Real-Time Virtual Support Zoom rooms every Wednesday from noon to 1pm Pacific.
It is an opportunity for anyone to join and learn about what an impactful diagnostic aide ultrasound can be in a rural setting.
Attendees are encouraged to bring ideas for examinations, pictures from their own practice, or challenges they would like help with. Attendees can also simply be there to learn and observe.
Dr. Robinson described herself as an early adopter of the technology. For her, being able to use ultrasound improved her practice and improved her relationships with patients. She said: “I liked that I could get an answer and know what was going on. Sending a patient out was very unsatisfying.”
Now that she is aware of the breadth and depth of what can be done, she wants to spread the awareness. “It’s a very empowering piece of technology to improve the doctor-patient relationship.”
Dr. Lori Adamson, a Family Practitioner in Salmon Arm who attended one of the sessions, said: “It is really nice to be able to access valuable and applicable skills in ultrasound, no matter where I live in BC.”
“I wanted more training in ultrasound, but it was very difficult in the past two years to travel for a course. This session has showed me that we can learn important ultrasound skills virtually, that I can apply to my daily practice. It was also really nice that I could ask questions and be actively involved in the session. I loved it!”
I wanted more training in ultrasound, but it was very difficult in the past two years to travel for a course. This session has showed me that we can learn important ultrasound skills virtually, that I can apply to my daily practice. It was also really nice that I could ask questions and be actively involved in the session. I loved it!Dr. Lori Adamson, Family Practitioner in Salmon Arm
Before the pandemic started, it was hoped that healthcare providers would be able to take part in in-person ultrasound training. But travel has been hampered not only by COVID-19 concerns, but also by weather and damaged infrastructure.
Dr. Robinson, who is a MaBAL (Maternity and Newborn Advice Line) and RUDi (Rural Urgent Doctor in-aid) physician with RTVS and a Family Practitioner in Fernie, said that although in-person training is best, a lot can be accomplished over Zoom.
In the Zoom sessions Dr. Robinson usually has three screens and a model. One screen shows placement of the ultrasound device on the model, one screen shows the ultrasound picture, and the other screen shows a wider angle of the exam room.
Although the Fernie physician is an ultrasound enthusiast, she does not describe herself as tech savvy. “I’m a Luddite and technology can sometimes be a challenge for me. But I really do feel like if you’re not using ultrasound your patients are suffering unnecessarily so I really think it’s important that people learn this.
“We want to get it right. We don’t want to make a bad call. So people need to be adequately trained. But even if you are not confident with ultrasound and want to send your patient to a specialist, you can still use ultrasound. You can do both, you can do your scan and send them.”
She says there are also life-threatening diagnoses that can be made immediately at the bedside.
“Once you make a few diagnoses, you save someone’s life, it will change your perspective. Maybe they have this big, huge, ready-to-blow aorta. You have saved a life for sure. Or just yesterday, I saw a patient with recurrent visits to the ER for severe abdominal pain who had received multiple medications, tests and consults for gastritis but I plopped the ultrasound on his belly, saw a very dilated kidney and correctly diagnosed a renal stone in 30 seconds. Same with ectopic pregnancy, once you have seen this and been able to identify it, you’ve potentially saved a life. It’s huge.”
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