Thursday, 15 January 2015

What did I learn from the ATLS instructor Course?

I had high hopes for the ATLS instructor course, and felt a little under-prepared and didn't really know what to expect. I learnt a lot, and thought I'd share some of my thoughts - in the hope that maybe other people can be better prepared.
Most importantly, ATLS as a course has a really bad reputation. I don't think it's all ATLS's fault - I think that a lot of it is the fault of the individual instructors. Why? Firstly  - slides. You are allowed to omit slides, and add picture slides. You can't alter the text...but there's a lot you can do. Secondly - out of date information - actually, the book may have some of the "older" principles, but the course doesn't focus on them, and allows discussion as long as the principles of ATLS are met.

I would suggest:
- Don't read all of the pre-course manual.
- Leave the instructor's manual in its shrink wrap. It's on the CD, and you can read it as a pdf and print off the relevant pages. Open the manual - and then you'll have to decide how to store it in a sensible fashion.
- Re-read the ATLS provider manual. It's there as a pdf on your CD. You need to know it to pass your MCQ - and although you do know it, you need to remind yourself of the "ATLS" way. The MCQs like the random things - like neuroanatomy.

- Plan and rehearse your microteaching.
- The timing is really important - 6 slides, 5 minutes. Title slide, objectives, question and summary = only really 2 slides!
- Interactivity - ask questions
- You can use your own slides or the ATLS slides. Either way make sure you know the slides.

Skill Stations
Prepare by reading the ATLS manual, and watching the DVD. This means you know the "perfect" technique. You don't need to teach the "perfect" technique but you do need to know it -as students will have learnt that. You can then explain why you are deviating from the norm.
You do launch straight into the skills station teaching so make sure it is prepared already.

Stick to Pendleton Plus. It's covered thoroughly in the course, so you should remember it well.

You'll be told your moulage scenarios before the course. Take some time to read them. Make sure you bring the moulages + the critiquing form to the moulages.
I struggled a bit to remember everything with the moulages - in retrospect I would highlight the initial scenario (as you need to tell that to the candidate), then write yourself an outline of what happens eg. pneumothorax --> tension --> decompress --> still shocked --> responds to fluids.

There are three causes of error -
 Ignorance --> fixed by lectures and skills
 Ineptitude --> lazyness - fixed by human factors coaching
 Necessary fallibility --> encourage everyone to talk about their errors

Further Reading
- View Sir Ken Robinson's TED talks
- ATLS Manual!

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