New skills to fight the new virus

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During the pandemic, intensive care units like Peter’s were overflowing with coronavirus patients. Many doctors and nurses from other departments are willing to help, but working in intensive care units requires specialized training. And while help is never unnecessary, hiring volunteers can be more stressful if they don’t have the right basic skills.

Recognising the skills gap, the EU has helped to set up an intensive care training programme in cooperation with the European Society for intensive care medicine (ESICM) based in Brussels. The programme is aimed at doctors and nurses working in hospitals in the EU and the UK who do not normally work in intensive care units.

The COVID-19 skills course (called c19_space) is a two-part free program. It starts with online events, videos and podcasts, and then moves on to training by local intensive care professionals such as Dr.

The sessions are available in all EU languages and introduce learners to the basics of intensive care, such as critical patient admission, respiratory stimulation, sepsis and infections. They also explain how intensive care units worked during the coronavirus crisis.

Some hospitals offer participants the opportunity to observe the work of an intensive care specialist for one day in order to get a complete picture of how they work in these wards. Others offer the ability to track clinical cases by immersing yourself in virtual reality. Thanks to the virtual reality helmet, doctors and nurses can observe emergency work as if they were present in person.

Increased demand for training

To date, more than 16,000 doctors and nurses from 660 hospitals in the EU and the UK have signed up for the course. Due to high demand, the program was extended until May, and the organizers hoped that it would cover a total of 1,000 hospitals.

After completing the course, doctors and nurses are ready to help the staff of intensive care units. Having a backup team means hospitals are better prepared to treat critical patients and have staff to respond to emergencies such as a new increase in coronavirus cases.

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