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“Patient Care Improved With Immediate Effect”: The ISN Educational Ambassadors Program Boosts POCUS Training in Pakistan

In April 2024, ISN Educational Ambassador (EA) Professor Saeed Ahmed, consultant nephrologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust in the UK, visited the Bahria Town International Hospital (BTIH) in Lahore, Pakistan, to deliver Pakistan’s first hands-on four-day workshop in point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) basics; a joint ISN – Pakistan Society of Nephrology initiative.

The workshop followed a series of online lectures delivered by Professor Ahmed over five months. The 26 delegates enrolled in the course were also required to complete the POCUS Curriculum at the ISN Academy prior to the visit. Sixty delegates benefitted from the hands-on training, including radiologists, IT technicians, ICU trainees and anesthesia consultants.

Hands-on training led by ISN Educational Ambassador Professor Saeed Ahmed at the Bahria Town International Hospital in Lahore

Although the BTIH is one of Pakistan’s leading kidney care facilities, there was almost no expertise on POCUS at the center prior to the EA visit. Support from the ISN EA Program was requested to train consultants in this technology as a vital and cost-effective way to improve diagnosis and treatment and enhance patient outcomes. The visit’s long-term goals were to develop local expertise to become a training center for POCUS and improve kidney services and patient safety in a sustainable way.

Professor Ahmed during the Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Basics Course

Since the EA visit, all patients have been examined using this technology, reducing the potential for clinical errors. Dr. Ahad Qayyum, medical director at the BTIH, commented, “Patient care improved with immediate effect.” Professor Ahmed remains in close communication with the kidney care team, monitoring shared images and providing ongoing feedback and mentorship.

According to Dr. Qayyum, the three most valuable elements learned during the training were:

  • Fast diagnosis and regular assessments through bedside ultrasound examinations
  • Ease of assessing volume status using basic ultrasound techniques
  • Increased awareness of technological advancements and their impact on daily clinical practice

The center plans to hold regular POCUS workshops and launch a task force, “Pakistan Diagnostic Interventional Nephrology,” led by Professor Ahmed and his team. These initiatives aim to train the next generation of nephrologists in POCUS techniques. Plans are underway to extend workshops to other cities locally.

To this end, students kept logbooks throughout the course, which were reviewed during the POCUS examination. These logbooks were used to assess work, and successful students were chosen as mentors to conduct similar courses nationwide. Feedback from the course will inform future curriculum development, course structure, and examination setup.

Dr. Qayyum commented, “The ISN Educational Ambassadors Program helps connect like-minded and passionate people who want to deliver improved healthcare for the population. POCUS training is ideal as the machines are getting cheaper and the learning curve is shorter in countries with high disease burden.”

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