Improving patient care with diagnostic ultrasound training for midwives

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In 2018, the Ontario College of Midwives issued a statement that extended the midwifery scope of practice to include the use of diagnostic ultrasounds in clinical practice. The McMaster University Midwifery Education Program asked MTIC to design and develop a comprehensive and rigorous hands-on PoCUS training program to meet the needs of community midwives.

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Funder: IDEAWORKS Catalyst Fund
Research Area: Medical Technologies Innovation Centre
Research Team: Carol Bernacci, Laura Thomas, Susan Kras, Dorothy Dilar, Meaghan Jefferson

Future Ready Challenge

Ultrasound is a safe, effective tool to aid in fetal assessment and well being throughout the pregnancy. But while most ultrasounds are scheduled in a clinic, there are times when a quicker diagnostic process is needed. That’s when clinicians use Point of Care Ultrasound (PoCUS), a portable form of assessment that allows for a fast, bedside diagnostic assessment of the patient and the baby. In communities where access to diagnostic ultrasound scans may be limited or there are long wait times for appointments at a clinic, POCUS can be used to triage the need for further, more comprehensive ultrasounds. 

Until January 2018, Ontario midwives were unable to use PoCUS when caring for pregnant women. That changed when the Ontario College of Midwives issued a statement that extended the midwifery scope of practice to include the use of diagnostic ultrasounds, such as PoCUS, in clinical practice.
 

R & D Collaboration

The McMaster University Midwifery Education Program is one of three midwifery education programs available in Ontario. The January 2018 change in the midwifery scope of practice meant that both new and current midwives needed training and support to implement diagnostic ultrasounds into their clinical practice. As McMaster didn’t have the needed in-house expertise, facilities and equipment to design and deliver the training, they asked the Medical Technologies Innovation Centre (MTIC) to design and develop a comprehensive and rigorous hands-on PoCUS training program to meet the needs of community midwives. 


Innovative Results

The MTIC research team, working collaboratively with maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Hamilton Health Sciences and midwifery faculty at McMaster, designed and developed a comprehensive POCUS training program, the first comprehensive program of its kind in Ontario. The MTIC research team, using their knowledge of the best practices for PoCUS technology, created a unique training program that included a rigorous online didactic component along with a hands-on skills training weekend and a clinical practicum. The project not only provided tools for midwives to implement PoCUS in their own practice, but it also provided a model of training and care that can help other specialties include PoCUS into their clinical training.