ATLS TRAINING: THE STORY OF INAUGURAL COURSE FROM A PARTICIPANT VIEW.
Many of us have undergone one form or another of training in trauma care. Nothing could have prepared us for the American College of Surgeons, Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS®) course.
The trainers were stern from the onset with punctuality heavily stressed upon. The tempo for the rest of the course was set by a Pre-Test to sensitise us on the expectations of the training.
Emphasis was laid on the ‘golden hour’ of trauma care which starts well before the arrival of the patient. The teaching style was formal yet the atmosphere was relaxed and reassuring. Faculty used positive critique, emphasized on the involvement of all participants, positive group dynamics and interrogation of any confusing points.
The practical learning stations were well organised and were conducted with the precision of a Swiss Watch. The faculty was drawn from a wide array of individuals who had travelled from afar to ensure that the internationally known quality and success of the course would remain. Their ethos was to build upon what the students already knew. Frequently, they reminded us that “ATLS is not a replacement for common sense. ABCDE…..”
This inaugural training had 16 participants from various regions in Kenya comprising Medical Officers, Postgraduate Residents, General and Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Those of us who were lucky to excel in the provider course then underwent a two day instructor course for capacity building and in a bid to increase the trainers for ATLS, Kenya chapter. This was a paradigm shift in our way of thinking and our future approach to teaching. Professor Thomas Edward (Ted) Summerville, an anaesthesiologist by training and an ATLS Educator carefully navigated us through the Instructor Course that in essence summarised about 5000 years’ worth of education models. He especially lay emphasis on the fact that no participant should ever be considered untrainable and then proceeded to relay practical tips on being effective educators. Just when we thought the assignments were over, we were then tasked with preparing micro-teachings sessions and assuming the role of faculty.
Each participant made a 5-minute presentation with the ethos of ATLS® in mind followed by critique by the audience. This was a mammoth task to say the least.
This was then followed by sessions in the skills stations where the potential instructors were each required to train ‘mock’ students and ensure that all students participated and acquired the taught skill. Building up on this foundation, Bloom’s Taxonomy not lost to us, we were then tasked to run full sessions of initial assessment and student test scenarios. Theoretically it seemed easy however, we quickly got to learn our strength and weaknesses as potential assessors.
Seems like a nice fairy-tale training but the background leading to this week of training required a lot of diplomacy and coordination with various key organisations and well-wishers as depicted above. Thank you, Asante Sana to American College of Surgeons, Kenya Red Cross, Surgical Society of Kenya, ICChange, Ministry of Health and all individual international and local faculty who saw to it that ATLS® is finally in Kenya.
The baton has now been handed over to Kenya which now joins region 15 and is only the third African country to gain training status after South Africa and Nigeria.
ATLS® training is finally in Kenya!