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The Personal Side of Teaching Critical Care

Grace M. Arteaga, MD, FAAP, believes her role as a healthcare provider is twofold. The first and most obvious responsibility is to provide medical services, which she does as a pediatric critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. While that is clearly important, she feels that sharing her knowledge with other healthcare providers is just as important.

“Sharing pediatric knowledge with other providers around the world makes me believe I contribute to a better future for humanity,” Dr. Arteaga says. “Lack of knowledge and lack of resources limiting the future of childhood is a war that medicine has been battling for centuries. Providing the tools in knowledge to others empowers them to improve the care of children.”

This attitude is why Dr. Arteaga is proud that she was able to work with several of her colleagues to educate healthcare workers in the Republic of Georgia about the optimal management of critically ill children. The physicians used the Pediatric Fundamental Critical Care Support (PFCCS) program developed by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) to train nonintensivists, nurses, and critical care practitioners in how to recognize and respond to impending critical illness.

Initially, the goal was to share the PFCCS program with a small number of healthcare clinicians in Georgia. There was so much enthusiasm, though, that the PFCCS concepts were then shared with clinicians in rural areas of the country. “The transfer of knowledge leads not only to supporting physicians from other countries in their services,” Dr. Arteaga says, “but, most importantly, plants the seed to expand that knowledge to other areas within the country.”

Before teaching with Dr. Arteaga, Sheri Crow, MD, also a pediatric critical care specialist at Rochester’s Mayo Clinic, visited the Republic of Georgia in 2012 to evaluate whether there were opportunities to help advance the field of critical care. She had previously participated in other international medical education efforts, most of which had included an informational lecture on a critical care topic geared toward the local healthcare population.

But Dr. Crow had concerns about this practice, primarily because it did not seem like the best way to bring about sustainable change, particularly in resource-limited settings. Dr. Crow had experience teaching PFCCS, and she thought the program could be an effective and efficient way to educate healthcare providers in Georgia, who could then teach other practitioners.

“We have found that training local healthcare leadership to become trainers is an effective method for developing a reliable, consistent, and sustainable educational tool within diverse healthcare settings,” Dr. Crow says. “The process of training these trainers is a highly efficient method for identifying cultural barriers to course adoption, identifying high-yield opportunities for international collaborations to support the local efforts, and generating goals for the local healthcare teams with the highest potential for positively impacting patient outcomes.”