e-Learning Anaesthesia goes global
From Sweden to Tanzania and from Qatar to Australia, e-Learning Anaesthesia is one of eIntegrity’s most popular programmes – with learners in 35 countries.
In this spotlight article, we take a look at the phenomenal success of this award-winning programme and find out what’s planned in the future.
Located in the foothills of the snow-capped mountain, the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) is a referral hospital for over 15 million people in Northern Tanzania.
Dr Ansbert Sweetbert Ndebea has just completed his anaesthesia training at the KCMC and he is now an anaesthesiologist at the centre. Sweetbert is part of a small team of doctors in the anaesthesia department.
Training resources at the KCMC are limited. However, for the past three years, Sweetbert and his fellow residents at the KCMC have been using eIntegrity’s e-Learning Anaesthesia (e-LA) programme to support their training and professional development.
“As a trainee from a country with limited resources, we have really benefitted from having access to such a high-quality resource”, explains Sweetbert.
“We use e-LA regularly as a reference tool to help prepare for difficult clinical cases, for teaching sessions and also for exam revision. Undoubtedly, this e-learning has helped us to improve our knowledge and provide better care to our patients.”
An award-winning training resource
Developed by the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA) and Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare, e-LA covers the core knowledge and skills needed for specialty training in anaesthesia, pain and critical care medicine. It is aimed at trainee doctors, nurses and other anaesthesia practitioners but the content is also used by qualified professionals.
e-LA features more than 800 comprehensive learning sessions and an extensive e-library of journal articles from the British Journal of Anaesthesia (BJA) and BJA Education. There are also assessments which match the standard of the UK FRCA exams.
“e-LA brings together all the key topics in one place, which means we don’t have to search around for information”, explains Sweetbert.
KCMC’s residents have access to e-LA thanks to a unique partnership with the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.
The Tanzania-Dutch collaboration
“Radboud has a long running collaboration with the KCMC to improve healthcare services”, explains Dr Sandra van den Heuvel, an anaesthesiologist and pain specialist from the university.
“We started working with the KCMC anaesthesia department in 2014. At the time, there was one resident and one anaesthesiologist running the department, along with specialist nurses and assistant medical officers. Over the past five years, we have invested heavily in increasing the number of physicians by supporting training and learning.
“Our own Dutch anaesthesiology residents had been using e-LA for general learning and exam preparation for some years – and they’ve found this learning tool extremely valuable.
“The content covers all the key areas of the anaesthesia curriculum, with a very logical, step-by-step approach. Topics are discussed in depth, with great images, animations and good coverage of physiology. The assessments at the end of each session really test your knowledge, too”, says Sandra.
“On a visit to Radboud, one of the KCMC residents saw how e-LA was being used for training. He was very impressed. However, with very limited resources, the KCMC would not have been able to fund access in Tanzania”, she explains.
So, Sandra and her colleagues stepped in and funded a small number of additional e-LA licences for the KCMC.
“KCMC anaesthesia residents have been using e-LA to build their skills. Knowing that this programme is used by their European counterparts gives them confidence in the training materials”, Sandra concludes. “e-LA is very highly regarded.”
This is also a view shared by Dr David Nekyon, Chair of the Department of Anaesthesia at the Aga Khan University in Nairobi, Kenya. David and his team have been using e-LA for training and continuing professional development for the past two years.
“Back in 2017, we were talking with an external examiner from the UK about how we could improve training and he recommended e-LA”, explains David. “We trialled it with trainees and consultants of all ages and it proved really popular. We’re now into our third year of using the programme.”
Highly interactive and accessible
David and his colleagues ask their students to complete e-LA learning sessions in preparation for classes. So, by the time they arrive in class, they have a good grasp of the theory.
“The programme is very interactive – with lots of videos and animations, which really help to explain difficult concepts”, says David.
He adds that e-LA is also used in his department for continuing professional development, helping busy clinicians to refresh their knowledge as needed.
“You can use e-LA to look up key facts wherever you are – on the move, in the tearoom or even in theatre. It’s like having a tutor with you”, says David.
Phenomenal success across the world
Launched more than 10 years ago, e-LA has seen phenomenal success in the UK and internationally. In the UK alone, more than 500,000 learning sessions have been launched in the past 12 months – with a significant increase year-on-year.
“The high quality of the e-learning is obviously one of the key selling points”, explains Graham Blair, Associate Director of Education and Events, from the Royal College of Anaesthetists (RCOA).
The programme is mapped to the UK training curriculum – which is internationally renowned. As Graham explains, many countries model their training curriculums on the UK’s, so the content is easily transferable across countries and continents.
“Obviously, there are regional differences in terms of clinical practice”, says Graham. “However, customers can purchase selected modules that are relevant to their specific training requirements and interests.”
The assessments are a particularly popular feature of the e-learning – both in the UK and abroad. “We see a significant spike in usage around exam time in February and August in the UK”, says Graham.
“Using e-LA, you can study at your own pace, wherever and whenever you want. You can also track your learning – and download a report for your tutor or for your training portfolio.
“What’s great is that e-LA is being used so widely across the world”, explains Graham.
“Through e-LA, we can share learning experiences and bring different perspectives to the programme – which will inform its future development”, he adds.
A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to develop and update the programme. Two clinical leads, Dr Ed Hammond and Dr Andrew McIndoe, oversee the development of e-LA, which is a huge undertaking – particularly as they are both busy practising anaesthetists.
Currently, e-LA is going through an extensive 18-month review – with a team of clinical authors and editors checking and updating each module, in turn, to ensure that the content reflects the latest clinical practice and any changes to the training curriculum. The latest module update (Critical Care) was launched in September, which has been well received. The team is now reviewing the Pharmacology module before work starts on the Consolidating Basic Clinical Science module.
“With the e-learning firmly established, we’re now into a phase of updating the content”, says Graham.
“We’re constantly looking at how we can improve the user experience and bring the content to life. We’re keen to make e-LA more responsive and mobile friendly. It’s vital that we stay ahead of technology changes and ensure that the programme meets the needs of our learners – both now and in the future”, he concludes.
For further information about e-Learning Anaesthesia, please take a look at our dedicated programme page.
With thanks to Dr Ansbert Sweetbert Ndebea, Dr Sandra van den Heuvel, Dr David Nekyon, Graham Blair, Maria Burke and Nick Cleary, who all contributed to this article.