19-Jan-2023 Source: Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance
On 13th January, Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance (LNAA) clinicians invited foundation doctors wishing to specialise in pre-hospital emergency medicine (PHEM) to a taster day showcasing this diverse, exciting and unique medical career.
PHEM is a rapidly expanding and evolving medical sub-speciality which is growing in awareness through the numerous TV programmes following the work of pre-hospital critical care teams. However, medical students and junior doctors have very limited exposure to the pre-hospital environment and PHEM rarely features on medical school or foundation curricula, making it difficult for young doctors to identify PHEM as a potential career. The lack of experience opportunities also makes it difficult for those who are interested to access the training pathways to become PHEM doctors.
Foundation doctors (doctors in the first two years of training after med-school) are given the opportunity to select ‘taster days’ in specialities of their choosing. This helps them identify potential careers and demonstrate their commitment to their chosen specialty. As air ambulances existence outside normal NHS operations, taster days with PHEM are far and few between.
To address this lack of awareness, Shayda Karimi, a doctor with LNAA organised this special day so that trainee doctors could gain insight into the work of an ‘outside’ doctor.
Shayda said: “Delegates were taken through a typical shift as a PHEM doctor, understanding the relationship with ambulance service colleagues and other emergency services, as well as the importance of teamwork when working in inherently stressful environments with critically unwell patients.
Simulations highlighting the difficulties pre-hospital teams encounter when treating patients at the scene of an incident emphasised the stark difference to treating patients in hospital/GP practices. Trainees were left under no illusion of what it would be like to treat someone outdoors on a cold wet, windy day!”
Surprisingly, many LNAA team members have never stepped foot inside a helicopter until their first day as a PHEM clinician; so there was also opportunity to get up close and view all the equipment that is carried in the helicopter and chat to the pilots, doctors and paramedic teams about their careers and why they chose to work in pre-hospital medicine.
Alina Humdani, a year 2 foundation doctor from Derby Royal Hospital has taken lots of inspiration from the day. She said: “I have been taught many trauma management skills that are used in the field, such as how to apply a pelvic binder to a patient with a pelvic fracture sustained in a high impact injury.
“I wanted more exposure to pre-hospital medicine so I can compare how different it is to hospital medicine and the different skill set needed. It has been so useful hearing the HEMS doctors and paramedics point of view on how the management of a situation has to change depending on the scenario they find themselves in. This day has cemented my interest in PHEM and ideally my future would be to become a consultant anaesthetist working in some capacity within an Air Ambulance setting.”
All the students thanked Shayda for giving them the opportunity to learn more about PHEM. She summed up the day by saying, “It’s really great to junior trainees learning about and enjoying this great speciality. All the foundation doctors have enjoyed the day and I’m sure they will have new skills and experience to take back to their respective hospitals.”