COVID-19 Training for Healthcare workers

The good

Stanford University reeled me in with a free certificate with this course, a special offer which lasts up to the very last day of the year. It’s a noble cause for spreading knowledge, I did not realize just how much meat of the course was left towards the end, but to be honest I stuck it out mostly for the certificate. I enjoyed some topics more than others since my curiosity and aptitude was at that level, but overall there was good variety in topics, legitimate flow and was taught by experienced emergency nurses and doctors. So, thumbs up for that. Let me outline the topics, to get a rough idea of what we’re looking at here:

  1. Basics- Transmission of the virus, some important numbers, et cetera
  2. Symptoms and timeline
  3. Personal Protective Equipment
  4. Approach to the sick patient
  5. Shock evaluation at the bedside
  6. Assessment of the dyspneic patient
  7. Ultrasound in COVID-19
  8. Diagnostic tools
  9. Treating the dyspneic patient: from mild, moderate to severe
  10. Ventilator Management

So that’s a fairly long laundry list, perhaps it doesn’t quite satisfactorily answer the questions you have. But its just a list. Here’s what you really learn.

  1. How to give oxygen
  2. How to intubate
  3. How to use ultrasound
  4. Where are we in terms of medications?
  5. How to read a ventilator monitor

Hopefully that added some spice to it. What I enjoyed the most? Ultrasound in COVID-19. It was thorough, because reading radiographical images cannot be half-done. Some other topics just dipped their toes in the need-to-know stuff assuming you had prior knowledge, after all, this course is meant for healthcare workers.

The Okay

The course picks up speed as we get past the basics, a bit of the gear and precautions, and assessment. Treatment is where the fun begins. I enjoyed the oxygen supplementation bit of the course. It was enlightening knowing which devices to use based on what kind of patient you have in front of you. This is where I think the learning curve becomes steeper, but…at the same time I hit a plateau. It was more to do with note-taking process, as the information became more and more ‘scattered’, the course makers assumed you were a nurse who was conversant with oxygen flow and all that stuff. Let me show you instead of explaining it:

Here’s a fine example of assessing a sick patient, easy and quite linear to follow:

And here is an example of treating a moderately dyspneic patient:

As you can see, the information got dense really fast and the course made you feel like you had to be familiar with the machines. All that being said, it was a good level of challenge for me to enjoy learning the new stuff. I struggled with organizing my notes as algorithms piled over each other, and soon I was losing sight of things. But, this is what healthcare workers have been doing for a year now. This is their daily life.

This section also throws light on the urgency of managing the patient, and the cost of letting the condition deteriorate. If only the rest of the world could see the potential chaos each COVID-19 patient brings to the floor.

The ‘meh’

So right off the bat, I just want to say that the pharmacology and ventilator management were rushed, although the topics themselves are too dense to be covered completely. I can forgive the pharmacology, because there really is minimal downside to not being thorough with all the drugs. As long as you have your need-to-know druglist, you’re fine.

The ventilator part of the course was heavy on technical knowledge that felt rushed. Perhaps its just me, and I haven’t worked at that level of intensive care yet. Although, there was nothing in there that was impossible to pick up quickly.

Final thoughts

The course was consistent with latest research which I thought was essential. The constant information of studies of transmission modes, risks and rates couples with precautionary measures every step of the way made the course feel very genuine and in touch with what goes on on ground zero.

I definitely would recommend this course, in fact, I think its just the tip of the iceberg as far as online courses on coronavirus go. I discovered that immense patience is needed to really chew through the nitty-gritty of topics I am unfamiliar with. Once I achieved my certificate, I really didn’t care as much about as the fact that I completed the course.

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