It’s hard to believe that 4 weeks have already past! We have had an amazing time in Australia, and we have met some amazing people! We started our journey in Sydney, and then traveled up to the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale, Australia. Here we were able to experience the Australian method of medical education as well as medical care in a rural setting. We were privileged to be able to help put on the “Introduction to Ultrasound” course for the 5th year students that are part of the Joint Medical Program, a combination of UNE and University of Newcastle students. These 5th year students are only 6 months away from becoming “Interns” and we hope they take the ultrasound skills they learned and apply them during their upcoming placements in whatever hospital they go to throughout the country. We were also able to get a unique look at how health care is delivered in a rural setting. This often means that the patient has to travel great distances to see the doctor, or the doctor to the patient. However, UNE makes impressive use of telemedicine, and the physicians here often check up with their patients by using a “skype appointment” where the patient goes into a local clinic managed by nurses and then sees the doctor over the computer. We also spent time analyzing the records of the patients that came into the Armidale Hospital ED, and we hope to be able to quantifying the benefit to the ED if their physicians were able to implement point-of-care ultrasound to their patients. The past 4 weeks have been an amazing experience and we are definitely sad to leave. We hope we can come back, and also that our new friends and colleagues will be able to visit us in California!
Eric, Danny, and Neema
We have had a busy week here in Armidale. This week we have embarked on our second study which is a retrospective chart review examining the potential benefits of implementing POC US into the ED at the Rural Referral Hospital in Armidale. It has been a tedious process going through hundreds of paper charts, but hopefully the results will provide valuable insight to see how US can help the patient population of this rural hospital. We have also been able to witness the inner workings of a rural ED, and the unique challenges that they face compared to more urban hospitals. Here in Armidale, the radiology department is only open until 6 pm so the doctors often have to be resourceful and rely on their clinical skills (and POC ultrasound) after hours!
We’ve enjoyed our stay in Armidale and we are making friends with a lot of the students. We are jealous though, because the students are our age or younger, but are already in their last year of medical school. Medical School is combined with undergrad here so you can become a doctor by 22 if you want!
Cheers from Australia!
It’s literally snowing. Our fearless leader and expert Australian climatologist, Eric Gray, informed us that quote, “The winter in Armidale is like the winter on the Newport peninsula,” so simply bringing a pull-over sweater and a pair of rainbows was not a wise decision. The snow however, has not deterred the progress of the US workshop here at the UNE rural health clinic in Armidale. A group of 35 medical students of varying age and year (year 3 to year 5 students) have undergone a rigorous crash course in everything from the physics of US, placement of central and peripheral lines, to live diagnostic demonstrations of US for patients in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy. For many of the students, particularly the year 5 students, this is the first time they have used ultrasound and we are extremely impressed with how they use their anatomical knowledge for probe placement and orientation of the correct view. It’s crazy to imagine that at the average age of 21 they will soon become physicians. Eric, Neema, and I have been teaching the basics of knobology, the RUSH and FAST protocol, and how much bowel gas an American can generate after drinking real Australian milk and a well-done kangaburger. In fact, one of the GP physicians showed us that you can simply wiggle the probe and the bowel gas will diffuse away. The course is also taking place in the 14 million dollar brand new Tablelands teaching facility, equipped with myriad of digital “SMART” white boards, an echocardiogram, and a brand new SonoSite X-PORTE generating beautiful images. Most importantly, our teaching and the expert demonstrations in the workshop have been an extremely valuable learning experience for the three of us. I think we all can agree that this experience will prepare us for the coming MS2 year when US will be used in pathology.
Here’s a picture of some of our students showing what they’ve learnt:
Today was very productive. We began our research project with Dr. Brasilins at the Armidale Rural Health Clinic. We started gathering data on patients in order to assess if Ultrasound could be a beneficial tool to expedite diagnoses. Armidale is much like a college town, there is a younger population and a quaint small-town feel. The hospital in Armidale has 99 beds and serves patients within approximately a 350km radius. Many of these patients are rural farmers or retirees and quite often the doctors of UNE have to travel via small plane or conduct consults via teleconference in order to assess their patients’ health status. The incidence of skin cancer within the population seen at UNE is one of the highest in the world. Often, the treatment of these skin cancers requires concurrent treatment of “a microbiological theme park” that infects the lesion created by the cancer, as stated by one of the Armidale ID physicians. We are greatly looking forward to learning more from the wonderful physicians at UNE!
Neema, Eric, & Danny
Just landed in Australia and it’s awesome! We have been working hard to refine our Ultrasound skills in preparation for our workshop at the University of New England in Armidale. Luckily,we have had the opportunity to do a bit of sight seeing down in Sydney. We strolled around the Opera House and we got to have lunch overlooking the beautiful Bondi Beach.