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A New Format for MCS Continuing Education

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Dawn Christensen, MS, CRNP
Innovative Program Solutions
Pine Grove, PA, USA

How do you document mechanical circulatory support (MCS) specific continuing education for the members of your MCS team? Is there anything out there providing an interactive environment designed to challenge both novice and experienced MCS providers? How do we make this type of continuing education available to more MCS providers?

These are questions that should be part of each program's review process; whether for regulatory review or quality improvement. MCS specific continuing education traditionally consisted of two options; training sessions provided by, and most likely promoting, a manufacturer's specific device, or conference attendance - spending endless hours sitting in a large-scale lecture type environment with relatively little audience interaction. Neither option focuses on the critical thinking skills necessary to appropriately care for an MCS patient. This is the gap in educational opportunities that the ICCAC set out to address with the creation of the MCS Proficiency Verification Course (MPV). This past June marked the second time the MPV course was offered in conjunction with the ASAIO annual meeting. It will also run in September in Vienna in conjunction with the ESAO annual conference.

The MPV course is designed as a small group (no more than 12 per group), interactive case scenario discussion, constructed using Problem Based Learning (PBL) theory. We have loosely described it as "ACLS for VADs." Participants are presented with real patient scenarios developed by program faculty and are asked to treat the patient. Diagnostic testing, x-rays, cath results and scans are provided in raw form and participants are guided through reading and interpreting the information they receive to make clinical decisions. As the scenario progresses, participants are given choices and feedback about their decisions through direct interaction with course faculty comprising internationally known experts (Surgeons, Cardiologists and VAD coordinators) in the field.

This June the MPV course involved scenarios including HVAD, HeartMate II, HeartMate 3, Centrimag, Syncardia TAH and Berlin Heart Excor pediatric scenarios. Participants were able to move through different scenarios throughout the day to customize their experience according to their needs. Participation verification was provided online via a printable certificate after completion of an online evaluation form.

June's MPV program consisted of participants including cardiologists, anesthesiologists, VAD coordinators, perfusionists, surgeons and engineers from around the world. Feedback from the evaluations was overwhelmingly positive including comments such as "Faculty were able to answer my questions and there were more cases and critical thinking scenarios provided than last year's course," "I was able to concentrate on the device most commonly used in our hospital. The in-depth discussions with other MCS professionals were extremely valuable," and "Great opportunity to meet with other MCS professionals to discuss problems and solutions."

The first two MPV courses have given us a lot of feedback related to format and value of this type of educational offering. ICCAC hopes to be able to work with all of our partnering organizations to be able to provide additional course offerings in conjunction with their annual meetings. The overall vision is to increase availability of the MPV course internationally to provide a higher level of continuing education focused on direct care, critical thinking skills and decision making at the individual provider level. ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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