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Healthcare professionals: develop your knowledge of perioperative medicine free and online with UCL

29 June 2017

An increasing number of high-risk patients are presenting to hospitals seeking a surgical cure, yet too many of these patients die or suffer prolonged complications following surgery. A group of anaesthetists working at UCL and University College London Hospitals (UCLH) believe that many of these complications and deaths are avoidable. They've therefore developed a free online course educating the broader perioperative team about an emerging multidisciplinary approach known as 'perioperative medicine'.

Photograph of Abigail WhitemanPhotograph of Phil Sherrard

UCL Life Learning spoke to Abigail Whiteman, consultant anaesthetist, and Phil Sherrard, an anaesthetic registrar, who both work at UCLH and teach at UCL. They're the driving force behind UCL’s latest MOOC (massive open online course) with FutureLearn, the social learning platform: Perioperative Medicine in Action, which starts on 3 July 2017.

“Perioperative medicine is an emerging multi-disciplinary specialty aiming to optimise the care of the high-risk surgical patient.

Education about the perioperative pathway is the starting point to improving care, which is why we were keen to produce a high-quality course that we can share for free, globally. Creating this course has taken a monumental effort from our extended expert faculty and our small production team and we’re very proud to launch it this summer.

We hope the course will highlight some of the excellent work being done at UCL in perioperative medicine while also shining a spotlight on projects being run at a local, national and international level in this field.

Perioperative medicine is one of the key priorities of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, who've endorsed this MOOC after peer review.

A holistic approach to the treatment of surgical patients

Perioperative medicine is the care of patients considering, preparing for, having and recovering from surgery. Enhanced care and improved outcomes for many patients depend on a multidisciplinary team working together with a common goal. This includes not only the full surgical team, but the staff caring for patients before and after their surgery.

For staff, there can be a resignation that nothing can be done about the high-risk nature of some surgical patients. Our course highlights successful perioperative programs that have evidence showing outcomes for these patients can be improved, but also that surgery is not always the only option.

For patients, there's a feeling that they have no control over their care or their decisions. We look at the concept of shared decision-making and putting patients in control of their surgical decisions through accurate risk assessment and specialist consultations. We also highlight that the patient is key to their own recovery and that lifestyle alterations patients make can reduce their chances of postoperative complications.

In society, particularly in the UK, there is a constant debate over funding for healthcare. This course acknowledges that a changing demographic and a challenging economic climate are significant problems, but proposes that streamlined perioperative care will reduce the financial pressures rather than increase them.

Providing education for everyone involved in surgical care

A operation in progress

This course is aimed at all interested healthcare professionals - both medical and allied health professionals. This would include anaesthetists, surgeons, physicians, pre-assessment nurses, surgical ward nurses, operating department staff, medical managers and medical students.

We want our participants to understand their place within a complex pathway that encompasses a large multidisciplinary team. We’d like them to take away the feeling that performing their part to the best of their abilities, while improving communication with other teams involved in patient care, really can make a difference to patient outcomes.

We also hope that learners will be inspired to make changes in their workplace and practice as a result of the course and to share those changes with us so we can help form this emerging field together.

Continue onto our MSc in Peroperative Medicine

For those who enjoy the course, we offer a fully online MSc that covers the topic and application of the perioperative pathway in much more detail: Perioperative Medicine MSc.”

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Page last modified on 04 May 2017 15:13