Background Direct supervision of musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) by an expert mentor is recognized as the best method for training. Lack of access to mentors creates a barrier to learning and limits the capacity to train individuals in MSUS.
Objectives The Scottish Rheumatology Ultrasound Mentoring Network (RUM-Net) project was created to overcome mentor related barriers to MSUS training for rheumatologists and allied health professionals (AHPs) in Scotland.
The aims of the project were to: 1 - create a foundation for future MSUS training courses, 2 - provide an infra-structure to support work based learning, 3 - provide mentoring support throughout Scotland.
Methods A three year development plan was devised by the Scottish Rheumatology Ultrasound Group (SRUG).
On-line survey of the Scottish Society for Rheumatology (SSR) membership was conducted to establish the level of expertise in MSUS within Scotland, to define the local training need and to identify individuals who were interested in becoming future MSUS mentors.
A program of annual Teach the Teachers (TT) courses were developed. Prior to the course, each delegate completed a self-assessment questionnaire, which along with the competency assessment by the tutors formed the basis to develop an individual learning plan for the 12 month period following the course.
Peer learning group sets were created to support the ongoing training activities. The use of log-books was encouraged.
Results 87 of SSR members (30%) responded the online survey. 65% of the respondents had access to an ultrasound machine, of these 68% felt unable to perform MSUS due to lack of training and experience. The survey identified 16 rheumatologists and AHPs who expressed a desire to becoming a MSUS mentor.
The first TT course in 2011 was attended by 11 delegates from various geographical areas of Scotland. The self-assessment by participants was generally in agreement with the tutors’ assessment of skills. Five of participants were rated as intermediate level and none was on the advanced level of competency. This intensive course, 2 day course with a faculty consisting of internationally recognized leaders in the field, had a high tutor to delegate ratio (5:11) and subsequently feedback of the course was highly positive.
Seven of the original 11 delegates were able to attend the second TT course in 2012. Faculty assesments determined that four delegates had increased their skills level to that of a tutor for basic courses, whilst two had remained static due to inability to perform regular scanning within current job plans. Poor communication between groups and lack of available time to regularly use MSUS in clinic, were cited as major barriers to progression in training.
Conclusions The RUM-Net project was successful in developing a training network for rheumatologists and AHPs across Scotland despite difficulties related to limited communication between participants. Collaboration with an academic center with facilities for developing a learning environment is currently being sought to overcome this problem.
The experience of SRUG in running the RUM-Net project, the areas of success and those where improvements need to be made will provide a valuable insight to other groups who wish to develop similar MSUS training initiatives.
Acknowledgements ‘Teach the Teachers’ courses were supported by educational grant by Pfizer Limited, Esaote S.p.A. and GE Healthcare
Disclosure of Interest None Declared