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Keeping physicians updated during the pandemic

RCPI’s Covid-19 clinical updates are a valuable educational resource for frontline physicians

In early March, Prof Anthony O’Regan, Dean of the RCPI’s Institute of Medicine, working with Dr Catherine Fleming and the Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland (IDSI), recognised the need for clear and concise education on Covid-19 directed at acute physicians in Ireland. Even in advance of the declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the first Covid-19 clinical update was planned as a traditional RCPI-based masterclass session to be broadcast live to acute hospital sites. However, the rapidly-changing times meant that the College had to adapt this format dramatically.

Webinar

Prof O’Regan says: “It is extraordinary that we have just delivered our seventh weekly Covid-19 clinical update. This live webinar has been rapidly adapted to our members’ needs and is broadcast with a capacity to reach 1,000 RCPI members live and many more via the recordings we make available afterwards. I am very grateful to all our speakers, who are national and world experts. The questions and answers sessions are particularly useful. Many thanks to all in RCPI who have worked so diligently to put this together.”

Prof Anthony O’Regan

The weekly webinar from RCPI brings together Irish and international experts who deliver talks and updates on the ongoing pandemic, with each session finishing with a live and interactive questions and answers session. More than 3,000 doctors have registered to watch live, and the recordings have been viewed more than 20,000 times. The uptake demonstrates how essential and welcome these sessions are for clinicians around the country.

“One of our key goals at the beginning of this pandemic was to ensure that we continue to support our doctors and deliver the information they need during this time. With the establishment of weekly online Covid-19 clinical updates, we’ve helped create a valuable educational resource, not only for our own membership, but for all doctors,” according to Prof Mary Horgan, RCPI President.

Prof O’Regan says: “Because of the rapidly-changing nature of the situation, it was key that important and complex clinical information could be communicated quickly to those working on the frontline. I felt that it was imperative for us in the Institute of Medicine to take the lead in this area and facilitate this sharing of expertise in a way that was easily accessible to doctors working in hospitals around the country.”

‘Humbling response’

Keen to recognise the input of each week’s speakers, Prof O’Regan says: “The response we have had from the experts we approached to speak has been humbling. In the last six weeks, we have had more than 25 Irish and international speakers, and the topics covered have been vast, with each one helping to bring our healthcare community the most vital new information.”

Speakers so far include Prof Kevin Wilson, Boston University School of Medicine, US; Dr Deirdre Morley, ICU Consultant in the Royal Free Hospital, London, UK; Prof David N Fisman, Infectious Diseases Physician and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto, Canada; Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan, Chief Bioethics Officer, Department of Health; Dr Siobhan Kennelly, National Clinical Lead, National Clinical Programme for Older Persons; Prof Luke O’Neill, Trinity College Dublin; Prof Richard Costello, Professor of Respiratory Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; Prof Paddy Mallon, Professor of Microbial Diseases, University College Dublin School of Medicine; and Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

Prof O’Regan says that the plan is that he and his colleagues within RCPI, with inputs from all faculties and institutes, will continue these updates for as long as is necessary, adapting the content as the situation evolves.

Dr Terry McWade, CEO of RCPI, says: “Through the Covid-19 clinical updates, we have created a new mechanism for delivering training and education. Doctors can access these updates and experts from wherever they are at a time that suits them. The interest from doctors, in both the live webinars and the recordings, shows the need for these educational updates during the current pandemic. It also shows that this new mechanism of delivering medical education and its format has been well received by doctors.

“As a team, we pulled together to fast-track the technology needed to ensure we could communicate these vital updates as widely as possible within the medical community.”

While live broadcasts of these updates — which take place every Wednesday evening — are for members only, the recordings are hosted on www.rcpi.ie the next morning and can be viewed by other doctors. The clinical updates are also shared with the other postgraduate medical training bodies and universities to allow interns and final-year medical students to view them.

Prof Horgan says: “We are learning more about this virus on a daily basis, but never have doctors been under so much pressure when it comes to time. Our goal was to create an educational resource which distills the most recent and pertinent information into an accessible format that can either be watched live or viewed later at a time that suits.

“We want to spread the word that these resources are available on our website for all doctors,” says Dr McWade. “Collaboration within the medical community at this time is vitally important. The sharing of information and resources between specialist societies, medical training bodies and medical schools benefits patients and doctors alike. It is our hope that these updates can play even a small part in helping those on the frontline.”

Prof O’Regan adds: “We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to the Covid-19 clinical updates. This disease is new to all of us and disseminating the most up-to-date information within the medical profession is an invaluable tool to help protect those on the frontline and to aid in the recovery of our patients”.

The interactive element of the updates, giving participants the opportunity to ask questions and clarify information with the speakers, has been a vital component. “Again, this comes back to the need for collaboration between healthcare professionals and providing a forum where key questions can be addressed by experts,” says Prof O’Regan. “The level of engagement we’ve had via the Q&A sessions shows that creating this space for open and inclusive dialogue has been invaluable for those who may have questions but are unsure of where and how to get the most up-to-date and accurate information on this.”

Prof O’Regan says: “I would encourage doctors to get in contact with ideas for future updates and where they have a question or queries on Covid-19 for our experts, we will do our best to get these answered. Feedback and collaboration will help during this pandemic.”

This article was produced by the RCPI.

For more information on RCPI’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, please visit its Covid-19 online hub, which is updated regularly with information for its members and medical professionals at www.rcpi.ie/covid19. Every Thursday morning, recordings from RCPI’s weekly updates on Covid-19 are made available on the College’s website and are available for all doctors to view. If you have a question you would like addressed during one of these clinical updates, please email courses@rcpi.ie. You can follow RCPI on Twitter for more updates at @RCPI_news.

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