Connectivity and upskilling in life support education

  • Online life support training in action. Photo: Denise Wiltshire
    Online life support training in action. Photo: Denise Wiltshire
Leonie McLaughlin & Sue Orsmond, Remote Clinical Educators

Connectivity continues to provide challenges for the rural and remote health professional. This is amplified when considering the professional development requirements accompanying registration as a health professional. Face-to-face CPD opportunities are usually located some distance away, so connectivity through the internet and online learning has become the friend of those working in rural and remote environments. Online learning reduces the need to find time away from work and/or needing to travel away from home to fulfil CPD.

The need to obtain education in core lifesaving skills such as Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) is a prime example of where connectivity in rural and remote Australia has revolutionised the delivery and assessment of these skills. For most rural, remote and isolated nurses, paramedics and doctors requiring BLS & ALS education, the last time they actually utilised these skills was when they did their last BLS & ALS training, as (fortunately) the need for BLS and/or ALS is an infrequent event in rural and isolated practice. However, we all recognise the need to maintain these critical skills, as well as the need to update and maintain our professional CPD requirements.

As the peak body for remote and isolated health, CRANAplus has a deep understanding of, and commitment to, resolving problems confronting their key stakeholders around CPD. Taking advantage of the improved (although still imperfect) internet coverage across the more isolated parts of the country, CRANAplus offers online BLS and ALS training. The online modules are combined with a virtual practical assessment that can be done via Skype or other videoconferencing applications.

Contextual issues have been considered in the development of the theoretical component of the online learning for these courses and many successful practical assessments have been conducted remotely via Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Bluejeans and other video conferencing apps. Some skype assessments have even been conducted successfully from as far away as PNG, Sweden and another from the UK!

If the connectivity doesn’t stretch to allow a virtual practical assessment, occasionally a face-to-face practical assessment has been organised. One (BLS assessment) was even conducted in a metro park, to assist a remote worker whilst travelling through (see pic) due to the extreme goodwill and flexibility of one of the external assessors!

Whilst not replacing face-to-face learning, online learning affords the rural and remote practitioner an option which saves time in planning, transportation and cost. Theory completion is self-paced and completed without the need for travel or to leave work and family commitments. Connectivity has provided accessible online learning as one option for the rural, remote and isolated health professional to support CPD requirements and – perhaps more importantly – critical skills maintenance. 

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