Inaugural Workshop Positions Duke as Nation’s Leader in POCUS

Duke Anesthesiology recently hosted a first-of-its-kind, intensive hands-on course designed around one of the hottest topics in health care. Held on November 5-6 in the Duke Medicine Pavilion, the inaugural “Point-of-Care Ultrasound for the Perioperative Physician” course drew in 26 attendees from not only Duke but also other regions in the southeast. A mix of faculty, attending physicians, residents, and fellows from a variety of disciplines were provided the basic knowledge and skill set required to perform a focused, diagnostic ultrasonographic assessment of different body systems – a skill that will help physicians and other health care providers better manage their perioperative and critically ill patients.

The concept of the point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) workshop evolved from a Regional Anesthesiology divisional retreat this past February, where faculty identified the need for this type of educational activity. According to the group, POCUS has the potential to revolutionize value-based patient care, save health systems millions of dollars on an annual basis, and improve patient outcomes. They say the once bulky ultrasound machines have shrunk drastically over the years and are now being replaced by portable, diagnostic ultrasonography at the patient’s bedside in the form of laptops and tablets. As these devices are becoming less expensive, they’re also becoming more accessible to physicians and specialists. Thus, there is a current demand for specialized training courses, such as the POCUS workshop, but very few opportunities for perioperative physicians to acquire these skills.

“We’re flying the flag here at Duke for perioperative medicine,” said Dr. Jeff Gadsden, course program director, who also noted that Duke Anesthesiology is at the leading edge of the curve for using these new ultrasound techniques. “We’re very proud to be one of the first to offer this kind of perioperative-focused workshop, but there will be others as the need grows.”

Overall, the course received great feedback from participants who seemed especially excited to learn these new skills and appreciated the workshop’s intimate, small group, hands-on style. According to Dr. Gadsden, one of the challenges that can arise with hands-on workshops is when there are too many people around the table at once, participants may never get a chance to “get their hands dirty.” For this workshop to be a success, he felt it was crucial to provide the opportunity for all of the attendees to get a lot of scanning time with the ultrasound probe. Dr. Gadsden added that one of the attending physicians even asked him whether Duke Anesthesiology could turn the course into a “road show” and travel to various hospitals, signifying the need for this type of course.

For Dr. Gadsden, one of the highlights from the weekend occurred near the conclusion of Saturday’s workshop, when participants were presented a series of real-life patient cases and asked how they would use POCUS to sort out the problem. “What struck me was how proficient these participants became in such a short period of time,” he recalled. “Seeing all of that evolve just over the course of the first day was incredibly rewarding. It was inspiring to watch as they used this technology and newfound knowledge in a really meaningful way.”

Ten faculty from Duke Anesthesiology presented at the conference with the hope that participants will use this workshop as a starting point for the integration of POCUS into their daily practice. “We were extremely fortunate to make this a cross-divisional collaborative effort and feature the amazing talents of faculty within other Duke Anesthesiology divisions,” noted Dr. Gadsden.  “We had designed this to be a taste of POCUS and hopefully inspire them to go on to learn more. “

When asked about his long-term vision for the course, Dr. Gadsden expects it to develop over time and said, “When people think of POCUS and where to go for training, I want them to think of Duke Anesthesiology.” After the success of this workshop, the planning team has developed a list of ideas to implement for the next one, such as additional case-based modules. The next POCUS workshop is tentatively planned for the spring of 2017 with the goal of attracting a broader audience both geographically and across different disciplines.

Click here to learn more about the inaugural Duke Point-of-Care Ultrasound for the Perioperative Physician Hands-On Workshop.