Pre-course online cases for the world health organization’s basic emergency care course in Uganda: A mixed methods analysis

Introduction
The Ministry of Health – Uganda implemented the World Health Organization’s Basic Emergency Care course (BEC1) to improve formal emergency care training and address its high burden of acute illness and injury. The BEC is an open-access, in-person, short course that provides comprehensive basic emergency training in low-resource settings. A free, open-access series of pre-course online cases available as downloadable offline files were developed to improve knowledge acquisition and retention. We evaluated BEC participants’ knowledge and self-efficacy in emergency care provision with and without these cases and their perceptions of the cases.

Methods
Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs2) and Likert-scale surveys assessed 137 providers’ knowledge and self-efficacy in emergency care provision, respectively, and focus group discussions explored 74 providers’ perceptions of the BEC course with cases in Kampala in this prospective, controlled study. Data was collected pre-BEC, post-BEC and six-months post-BEC. We used liability analysis and Cronbach alpha coefficients to establish intercorrelation between categorised Likert-scale items. We used mixed model analysis of variance to interpret Likert-scale and MCQ data and thematic content analysis to explore focus group discussions.

Results
Participants gained and maintained significant increases in MCQ averages (15%) and Likert-scale scores over time (p 0.05). Nurses experienced more significant initial gains and long-term decays in MCQ and self-efficacy than doctors (p = 0.009, p < 0.05). Providers found the cases most useful pre-BEC to preview course content but did not revisit them post-course. Technological difficulties and internet costs limited case usage. Conclusion Basic emergency care courses for low-resource settings can increase frontline providers’ long-term knowledge and self-efficacy in emergency care. Nurses experienced greater initial gains and long-term losses in knowledge than doctors. Online adjuncts may enhance health professional education in low-to-middle income countries.

Lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic using virtual basic laparoscopic training in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia: effects on confidence, knowledge, and skill

Background
An international surgical team implemented a virtual basic laparoscopic surgery course for Bolivian general and pediatric surgeons and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. This simulation course aimed to enhance training in a lower-resource environment despite the challenges of decreased operative volume and lack of in-person instruction.

Methods
The course was developed by surgeons from Bolivian and U.S.-based institutions and offered twice between July-December 2020. Didactic content and skill techniques were taught via weekly live videoconferences. Additional mentorship was provided through small group sessions. Participants were evaluated by pre- and post-course tests of didactic content as well as by video task review.

Results
Of the 24 enrolled participants, 13 were practicing surgeons and 10 were surgery residents (one unspecified). Fifty percent (n = 12) indicated “almost never” performing laparoscopic surgeries pre-course. Confidence significantly increased for five laparoscopic tasks. Test scores also increased significantly (68.2% ± 12.5%, n = 21; vs 76.6% ± 12.6%, n = 19; p = 0.040). While challenges impeded objective evaluation for the first course iteration, adjustments permitted video scoring in the second iteration. This group demonstrated significant improvements in precision cutting (11.6% ± 16.7%, n = 9; vs 62.5% ± 18.6%, n = 6; p < 0.001), intracorporeal knot tying (36.4% ± 38.1%, n = 9; vs 79.2% ± 17.2%, n = 7; p = 0.012), and combined skill (40.3% ± 17.7%; n = 8 vs 77.2% ± 13.6%, n = 4; p = 0.042). Collectively, combined skill scores improved by 66.3% ± 10.4%.

Conclusion
Virtual international collaboration can improve confidence, knowledge, and basic laparoscopic skills, even in resource-limited settings during a global pandemic. Future efforts should focus on standardizing resources for participants and enhancing access to live feedback resources between classes.

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the education of healthcare professionals, especially in low- and middle-income countries

The COVID-19 disaster has appreciably increased morbidity and mortality, as well as the delivery of healthcare, across countries exacerbated by the contagious nature of the virus.[1-4] Numerous public health measures were instigated across countries at the start of the pandemic to try and limit its spread without effective medicines and vaccines.[5,6] Introduced measures included lockdown activities, social distancing instructions, quarantining measures, wearing of personal protective equipment (PPEs), handwashing and sanitizers as well as the closure of borders.[5-8] Instigated measures also included the closure of universities appreciably affecting the education of healthcare professionals (HCPs), including physicians and pharmacists, across countries.[9-11] The extent of lockdown and other activities instigated during the early stages of the virus varied appreciably across countries leading to differences in observed morbidity and mortality rates.[12-15] For instance, comprehensive measures introduced early among several Asian countries including Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam as well as among several African countries including Ghana, Malawi and Namibia, limited the number of deaths certainly when compared with Western European countries including Italy, Spain and the UK

Lessons learned from organizing and evaluating international virtual training for healthcare professionals

Education is a critical part of capacity building in global health partnerships.1 Medical training conferences designed for providers in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) address equity in global health by reducing financial, political, and language barriers.2 However, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted gatherings, added further travel restrictions, and exhausted already strained financial resources for individuals from LMICs to attend conferences. To continue providing quality education, training, and professional development in the midst of the global crisis, organizations had to rapidly transition to virtual platforms.3,4 The pandemic has accelerated the process of adoption of innovative technological solutions, including learning management systems (LMS) (e.g., Moodle, Canvas) and virtual meeting platforms (e.g., Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting) that transcend geographic and temporal boundaries, enhancing the potential of reaching a wider audience. This has also had the benefit of addressing some of the preexisting barriers for conference attendees from LMICs.
This transition was not unprecedented; as early as 2009,The US Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the Public and Private Sectors report by the US Institute of Medicine5 created a framework to guide investments and implementation in global health, including sharing knowledge, investing in people and institutions, and engaging in respectful partnerships. Virtual international meetings have been held successfully prior to the pandemic in response to environmental concerns and financial limitations.6-10 Prior studies documented the benefits of utilizing online formats for medical education, including training healthcare professionals via virtual conferences.11 Among those benefits include saving time, resources, and money.11,12 In addition, virtual conferences help healthcare associations and universities increase their global outreach by forming international partnerships and collaborations, as well as disseminating their research at a global scale.11 Despite their benefits of online and virtual formats, researchers indicate that evaluating the effectiveness of online platforms for medical education still remains a challenge.12,13 To address the challenge, our multidisciplinary team at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) partnered with the Armenian Eye Care Project (AECP) to co-host a series of three international virtual training conferences on ophthalmology and pediatrics for healthcare professionals in the Republic of Armenia and its surrounding regions between September 2020 and February 2021. The conference planning began in December 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned to a fully virtual format in June 2020. Our evaluation strategy included a collection of quantitative and qualitative data from the conference participants through a post-conference survey and semi-structured interviews on their experiences and perceptions. Below, we are sharing the lessons learned from the process of organizing and evaluating virtual training conferences.

Evaluating the impact of neurosurgical rotation experience in Africa on the interest and perception of medical students towards a career in neurosurgery: a protocol for a continental, cross-sectional study

Introduction
Africa has the second highest neurosurgical workforce deficit globally. Despite the many recent advancements in increasing neurosurgical access in Africa, published reports have shown that the vast majority of undergraduate students have little or no exposure to neurosurgery. The lack of exposure may pose a challenge in reducing the neurosurgical workforce deficit, which is one of the long-term strategies of tackling the unmet burden of disease. Students may also miss the opportunity to appreciate the specialty and its demands as well as nurture their interest in the field. This study aims to assess the impact of a neurosurgical rotation during medical school in shaping the perception and interest of students towards a career in neurosurgery.

Methods
The cross-sectional study will be conducted through the dissemination of a self-administered e-survey hosted on Google Forms from 21st February 2021 to 20th March 2021. The survey will contain five-point Likert scale, multiple-choice and free-text questions. The structured questionnaire will have four sections with 27 items: (i) socio-demographic background, (ii) neurosurgical experience, (iii) perception towards a neurosurgical career and (iv) interest in a neurosurgical career. All consenting medical students in African medical schools who are in their clinical years (defined as fourth to sixth years or higher years of study) will be eligible. Odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals, Wilcoxon rank-sum test, Welch t-test and adjusted logistic regression models will be used to test for associations between independent and dependent variables. Statistical significance will be accepted at P < 0.05.

Evaluating Shifts in Perception After a Pilot Trauma Quality Improvement Training Course in Cameroon

Introduction
Trauma is a major contributor to the global burden of disease, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) being disproportionately affected. Trauma Quality Improvement (QI) initiatives could potentially save an estimated two million lives each year. Successful trauma QI initiatives rely on adequate training and a culture of quality among hospital staff. This study evaluated the effect of a pilot trauma QI training course on participants’ perceptions on leadership, medical errors, and the QI process in Cameroon.

Methods
Study participants took part in a three-day, eight-module course training on trauma QI methods and applications. Perceptions on leadership, medical errors, and QI were assessed pre and post-course using a 15-item survey measured on a five-point Likert scale. Median pre- and post-course scores were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Knowledge retention and course satisfaction were also evaluated in a post-course survey and evaluation.

Results
A majority of the 25 course participants completed pre-course (92%) and post-course (80%) surveys. Participants’ perceptions of safety and comfort discussing medical errors at work significantly increased post-course (pre-median = 5, IQR [4-5]; post-median = 5, IQR [5-5]; P = 0.046). The belief that individuals responsible for medical error should be held accountable significantly decreased after the course (pre-median = 3, IQR [2-4]; post-median = 1, IQR [1-2]; P < 0.001). Overall satisfaction with the course was high with median scores ≥4. Conclusions These initial results suggest that targeted trauma QI training effectively influences attitudes about QI. Further investigation of the effect of the trauma QI training on hospital staff in larger courses is warranted to assess reproducibility of these findings.

Priorities for content for a short-course on postoperative care relevant for low- and middle-income countries: an e-Delphi process with training facilitators

Most surgical and anaesthetic mortality and morbidity occurs postoperatively, disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income countries. Various short courses have been developed to improve patient outcomes in low- and middle-income countries, but none specifically to address postoperative care and complications. We aimed to identify key features of a proposed short-course addressing this topic using a Delphi process with low- and middle-income country anaesthesia providers trained as short-course facilitators. An initial questionnaire was co-developed from literature review and exploratory workshops to include 108 potential course features. Features included content; teaching method; appropriate participants; and appropriate faculty. Over three Delphi rounds (panellists numbered 86, 64 and 35 in successive cycles), panellists indicated which features they considered most important. Responses were analysed by geographical regions: Africa, the Americas, south-east Asia and Western Pacific. Ultimately, panellists identified 60, 40 and 54 core features for the proposed course in each region, respectively. There were high levels of consensus within regions on what constituted core course content, but not between regions. All panellists preferred the small group workshop teaching method irrespective of region. All regions considered anaesthetists to be key facilitators, while all agreed that both anaesthetists and operating theatre nurses were key participants. The African and Americas regional panels recommended more multidisciplinary healthcare professionals for participant roles. Faculty from high-income countries were not considered high priority. Our study highlights variability between geographical regions as to which course features were perceived as most locally relevant, supporting regional adaptation of short-course design rather than a one-size-fits-all model.

An e-learning pediatric cardiology curriculum for Pediatric Postgraduate trainees in Rwanda: implementation and evaluation

Background
Access to pediatric sub-specialty training is a critical unmet need in many resource-limited settings. In Rwanda, only two pediatric cardiologists are responsible for the country’s clinical care of a population of 12 million, along with the medical education of all pediatric trainees. To strengthen physician training opportunities, we developed an e-learning curriculum in pediatric cardiology. This curriculum aimed to “flip the classroom”, allowing residents to learn key pediatric cardiology concepts digitally before an in-person session with the specialist, thus efficiently utilizing the specialist for additional case based and bedside teaching.

Methods
We surveyed Rwandan and US faculty and residents using a modified Delphi approach to identify key topics in pediatric cardiology. Lead authors from Rwanda and the USA collaborated with OPENPediatrics™, a free digital knowledge-sharing platform, to produce ten core topics presented in structured videos spanning 4.5 h. A mixed methods evaluation was completed with Rwandan pediatric residents, including surveys assessing knowledge, utilization, and satisfaction. Qualitative analysis of structured interviews was conducted using NVivo.

Results
Among the 43 residents who participated in the OPENPediatrics™ cardiology curriculum, 33 (77%) completed the curriculum assessment. Residents reported using the curriculum for a median of 8 h. Thirty-eight (88%) reported viewing the curriculum on their personal or hospital computer via pre-downloaded materials on a USB flash drive, with another seven (16%) reporting viewing it online. Twenty-seven residents viewed the course during core lecture time (63%). Commonly reported barriers to utilization included lack of time (70%), access to internet (40%) and language (24%). Scores on knowledge assessment improved from 66.2% to 76.7% upon completion of the curriculum (p < 0.001) across all levels of training, with most significant improvement in scores for PGY-1 and PGY-2 residents. Residents reported high satisfaction with the visuals, engaging presentation, and organization of the curriculum. Residents opined the need for expanded training material in cardiac electrocardiogram and echocardiogram and requested for slower narration by foreign presenters.

Conclusion
Video-based e-learning via OPENPediatrics™ in a resource-limited setting was effective in improving resident’s knowledge in pediatric cardiology with high levels of utilization and satisfaction. Expanding access to digital curriculums for other pediatric sub-specialties may be both an effective and efficient strategy for improving training in settings with limited access to subspecialist faculty.

Piloting a Faculty Development Program in a Rural Haitian Teaching Hospital

Background: Faculty development for nurse and physician educators has a limited evidence base in high income countries, and very little research from low- and middle-income countries. Health professions educators in many global settings do not receive training on how to educate effectively.

Objective: To pilot and assess a faculty development program aimed at nurse and physician educators at a teaching hospital in rural Haiti.

Methods: We developed a program covering a total of 22 topics in health professions education, including applied learning theory as well as nurse and physician targeted topics. We assessed impact through participant assessment of personal growth, participant evaluation of the program, knowledge testing pre and post program, and structured observations of program participants providing teaching during the program.

Findings: Nineteen out of 37 participants completed the program. While participant reviews were uniformly positive, a pre- and post-test on general educational topics showed no significant change, and the effort to institute observation and feedback of teaching did not succeed.

Conclusions: Our project showcases some benefits of faculty development, while also demonstrating the challenges of instituting faculty development in situations where participants have limited time and resources. We suspect more benefits may emerge as the program evolves to fit the learners and setting

A qualitative study of an undergraduate online emergency medicine education program at a teaching Hospital in Kampala, Uganda

Background
Globally, half of all years of life lost is due to emergency medical conditions, with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) facing a disproportionate burden of these conditions. There is an urgent need to train the future physicians in LMICs in the identification and stabilization of patients with emergency medical conditions. Little research focuses on the development of effective emergency medicine (EM) medical education resources in LMICs and the perspectives of the students themselves. One emerging tool is the use of electronic learning (e-learning) and blended learning courses. We aimed to understand Uganda medical trainees’ use of learning materials, perception of current e-learning resources, and perceived needs regarding EM skills acquisition during participation in an app-based EM course.

Methods
We conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups of medical students and EM residents. Participants were recruited using convenience sampling. All sessions were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The final codebook was approved by three separate investigators, transcripts were coded after reaching consensus by all members of the coding team, and coded data were thematically analyzed.

Results
Twenty-six medical trainees were included in the study. Analysis of the transcripts revealed three major themes: [1] medical trainees want education in EM and actively seek EM training opportunities; [2] although the e-learning course supplements knowledge acquisition, medical students are most interested in hands-on EM-related training experiences; and [3] medical students want increased time with local physician educators that blended courses provide.

Conclusions
Our findings show that while students lack access to structured EM education, they actively seek EM knowledge and practice experiences through self-identified, unstructured learning opportunities. Students value high quality, easily accessible EM education resources and employ e-learning resources to bridge gaps in their learning opportunities. However, students desire that these resources be complemented by in-person educational sessions and executed in collaboration with local EM experts who are able to contextualize materials, offer mentorship, and help students develop their interest in EM to continue the growth of the EM specialty.