Cath lab tech education during COVID-19 has been a challenge, but there’s a lot to be optimistic about says Ben Ochoa, Program Director for Invasive Cardiovascular Technology and Cardiac Sonography Programs at St. Phillips College and a fellow of the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals (FACVP).
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he managed not to miss a beat in fulfilling the cath lab and sonography tech workforce development needs of the San Antonio area. “We have to be safe in what we do—we have to meet these challenges,” said Ochoa. “So, we get creative.”
Following the February 20 CVP Week CE event Ochoa helped ACVP to organize, he spoke with us about ACVP, the state of cardiovascular programs in the pandemic, and the evolution he sees taking place in cardiovascular care in general.
“A lot has changed since the pandemic,” said Ochoa. “[COVID-19] tests the structures you have in place and forces you to evolve to meet those challenges… It forces us to rethink how we get this information to people—how we hold our students accountable—how to work within the limitations that we have and take care of students all at the same time.”
Realizing that digital learning was the key to helping students early on in the pandemic, Ochoa focused on finding great content resources and trimming the fat of the didactic process. “What do people really need to know?” he asked. “There’s so much redundancy that we face in how things were, so it forces us to be different... We’re really optimizing the use of technology. It trims the fat, right? But you still get the beef.”
ACVP cath lab tech education (applicable to all cardiovascular professionals) via our virtual CE festivals was an important resource, says Ochoa, along with education and online tutorials from industry partners and other groups. “ACVP, putting out all this education—we’ve been able to get content flowing to our students without missing a beat. The answers are out there, we have the resources.”
In celebration of Cardiovascular Professionals Week, we interviewed LaToya Payton, the Program & Clinical Coordinator for Dallas College’s School of Health Sciences, to understand what she and her colleagues at Dallas College have done over the past several months to continue delivering cardiovascular education during COVID-19.
Her responses perfectly illustrate our theme for CVP Week 2021—cardiovascular professionals (and educators!) don't miss a beat.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the healthcare community in innumerable ways, from the “big picture” structure and function of our organizations, down to the minutiae of individual roles, responsibilities, and expectations within our institutions.
As we continue to conquer the hurdles set before us by COVID-19, taking note of what works and what doesn’t along the way, it is important that we consider the lessons and impact of the pandemic not only on our current practice, but in terms of how this period will inform our work in the years to come.
It is no surprise that in addition to care-delivering organizations, educational institutions have had an extremely difficult time adjusting to the pandemic, as physical distancing and other safety requirements have thrown a wrench into the scheduling of clinical learning opportunities, and the in-person instruction that is so critical to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals.
LaToya Payton’s responses were instructive for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they emphasized the centrality of information-sharing as we continue our fight against the SARS-COV-2 virus, and the importance of taking a flexible, collaborative approach to our shared challenges and to cardiovascular education during COVID-19.
Interview: Cardiovascular Education during COVID-19
Below you can find a written record of our conversation with LaToya Payton, along with some additional notes and resources, which might be useful to professional educators, students, and also those currently working in the field.
We have taken the liberty of expounding on the topics, ideas, and potential solutions she points to for finding new ways to deliver necessary knowledge and pursue team-based collaboration amidst the pandemic. Our notes/resources are added in the bullet points below each of LaToya Payton’s answers.
What are the benefits of virtual continuing education for cardiac RNs and technologists? They're far greater than simply getting necessary CEUs from the comfort of your own home (though, that's great too). We've already seen the energy and activity our first virtual conference generated, and we're excited for the next. ACVP's next virtual CE festival will be Saturday, November 14—we hope you'll join us!
Eighty-two hours per week… That’s the amount of time an average global consumer spent absorbing information—from television, computers, phones, radio, etc.—two years ago in 2018. No doubt that number has since grown, and with the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, we can expect it to continue to grow as we navigate the necessary physical distance of an increasingly socially connected world.
Now, we have a tendency to paint seemingly excessive figures of screen time and digital connectivity in a negative light – paradoxically decrying the increased isolation of a population lost in its screens, while simultaneously decrying the incessant connectivity of a world where anyone is only a few clicks away.
But as is true of most societal transformations, our current information age has both positive and negative aspects, and as is true of all eras, it will eventually end and be replaced by the next iteration of society – whatever that may be.
Many have speculated that the next iteration will revolve more around experience and automation, and we can already see this starting to happen with the proliferation of apps, platforms, and services which prioritize the interaction of and between users and consumers, over the collection and analysis of data and information as a goal unto itself.
This is especially true in the world of education. From primary school to highly specialized technical programs in healthcare, we are seeing more immersive, synchronous, virtual experiences offering students a chance to learn “hands-on” while remaining physically distant from instructors and peers.
The fact is, we are living in an era of yet-untapped potential. As we continue to navigate uncharted virtual waters there is no doubt that many obstacles will be revealed, but so will new solutions, opportunities, and efficiencies.
Our ability to create communities of thought has never been greater.
Our ability to access those communities has never been greater.
Our ability to generate and absorb new information has never been greater.
Our ability to learn from the experiences of others has never been greater.
Our ability to effectively re-tool learning environments to meet the needs of both students and instructors has never been greater.
Our ability to collaborate across cultural, physical, and ideological boundaries has never been greater.
In the whole of human history, our collective potential has never been greater.
So, while it is natural to think about virtual education in terms of screen fatigue, sedentary lifestyles, and physical separation, perhaps a more purposeful view of virtual communication will look at our need, our capabilities, and our goals to understand and act on our potential.
The Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals is committed to seeing that potential realized each and every day, as we connect students, educators, and professionals across the country with the most up-to-date, relevant, clinical information and education.
Sotalol delivered intravenously can offer a one-day regimen initiation for adults with atrial fibrillation, resulting in far shorter hospital stays and reducing hospital costs.
AltaThera Pharmaceuticals partnered with the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals to share information about their collaboration with the Federal Drug Administration to bring IV Sotalol back to the market and expand its use for this patient population.
In this blog, we offer a sneak-preview of AltaThera's presentation and an example of the excellent, cutting edge education offered by ACVP and our partners and volunteers.
3 Days to 1: Shorter Hospital Stays for Adults with A-Fib
Oral sotalol "has been available for over 25 years, and is the second most prescribed antiarrhythmic," says Rachael Durie, PharmD of AltaThera Pharmaceuticals. The drug is indicated for the maintenance of normal sinus rhythm in patients with highly symptomatic atrial fibrillation or flutter. Sotalol is one of only two class III antiarrhythmic drugs, along with Amiodarone, that are offered in both intravenous and oral formulations, and indicated for both atrial and ventricular arrhythmias.
"Where they differ is in their adverse effects," says Durie. "Amiodarone has such long-term toxicity... if the patient does experience toxicity, it could take almost six months for this to be washed out of the system, whereas all of the other oral agents have a half-life of about 12 hours and can easily be washed out in just three days."
But what's the benefit of delivering the antiarrhythmic sotalol via IV? Far shorter hospital stays for these patients, reducing necessary monitoring from three days to one.
A major drawback of the oral formulation is that patients should be initiated for a minimum of three days in a facility that can provide continuous EKG monitoring. "This is due to the pharmacokinetics of oral sotalol," says Durie, as she explains in her continuing education presentation which will air at 11:15AM Eastern on Saturday, September 26.
"Oral medications need to go through something called ADME: Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Elimination, and due to that, it takes five half-lives of the drug to reach the Cmax steady state."
This isn't the case with intravenous delivery of sotalol—pharmacokinetic data suggests that sotalol delivered via IV facilitates a one-day initiation of the regimen, which can be continued by the patient, orally, after discharge without three days of in-hospital monitoring.
The clinical and economic benefits are significant, and especially crucial during the on-going COVID-19 crisis, as Durie outlines in her presentation. "Any time you're reducing hospital length of stay, you're reducing the chance of infection—not just during COVID times." Plus, the cost savings are estimated at $3,000 per patient.
AltaThera Pharmaceuticals is a relatively new company focused on improving patient outcomes via this initiation protocol, which Durie explains in greater detail in her presentation. "This is our first and only product," says Durie. "So we are very committed to our company mission: to improve patient outcomes and reduce overall hospital costs."
There's still time to register for our 8 CEU virtual event!
RNs, RTs and all Cardiovascular Technologists (RCIS, RCES and all CCI credentialed professionals included) can earn 8 contact hours of continuing education by attending the Alliance of Cardiovascular Professionals' inaugural Virtual CE Festival Saturday, September 26. Register and attend complete sessions to earn credit—drop-in or drop-out on your schedule, from your home. Plus, pay what you think is fair.
Outstanding doctors and healthcare professionals from Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and Steward Health, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Boston, MA will present nine hours of cutting-edge cardiac continuing education from 8AM to 5PM ET on Saturday, September 26 in a livestream format. Access easily from anywhere—no downloads necessary. Chat with other attendees and presenters with LIVE, REAL-TIME Q&A throughout the presentations.
ACVP members, employees at Cleveland Clinic and Steward Health, and current students may all attend and earn CE, FREE!Others may attend for as little as $1!