ATLANTIC CITY — A registered nurse from Ghana spent the weekend at AtlantiCare, taking trauma care courses that he will pass on to medical professionals in his home country.
Emmanuel Acheampong, 37, is a registered nurse at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana, and the national coordinator for advanced trauma life support (ATLS) there. He was the only foreign nurse in a group of 16 people taking the advanced trauma care for nurses (ATCN) course this Saturday and Sunday. He said he found the teaching very instructive and is planning to start an ATCN course back home.
Though none of the material was a surprise to him, as he instructs ATLS courses in Ghana, he was observing the way the ATCN skill stations were taught.
“(The instructors) are fantastic. They’ve been a great host since I’ve got here,” Acheampong said. “I’m coming from a low-middle income country where we don’t have access to a lot of these things.”
The two courses run simultaneously at AtlantiCare as well.
The American College of Surgeons oversees the ATLS courses nationwide and awards certificates through licensed hospitals.
ATLS is taken by primary care providers, including trauma doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, said Dr. Peter Thompson, a trauma/critical care physician and the course director for ATLS at AtlantiCare.
Five medical professionals were participating in the course Saturday and Sunday.
The Society of Trauma Nurses, which connected AtlantiCare with Acheampong, oversees ATCN training nationwide and awards certificates to those that complete the course. Both ATCN and ATLS courses involved intensive classwork and hands-on simulations, as well as testing at the end of the second day on human subjects painted to resemble patients with traumatic injuries, like stab wounds.
On Sunday morning, five professionals in the ATCN track were taking part in a musculoskeletal/spine trauma lab, placing their peer’s leg in a splint to simulate the response to a fractured femur.
“This is to teach them how to maintain a safe spine so you don’t cause any more damage to somebody, because you don’t actually know if there’s a spine injury,” said Lois Kelly, TCRN and course director for ATCN at AtlantiCare.
The hospital offers full courses three times a year, as well as an abbreviated “refresher course,” said Wendi Finkelstein, the continuing professional development manager for AtlantiCare. Professionals working in trauma centers must get recertified every four years.
Finkelstein runs a lot of the educational programs at the hospital and said they’ve offered the “grueling course” at least as far back as 1990.
“It’s a true commitment ... to treating a trauma patient,” Finkelstein said.
The standardization of trauma care has been a real step-up for the quality of response to devastating injuries, said Thompson. Some 83 countries have ATLS training.
“All of these students — either the nurses, or the physicians and physician extenders ... they’re taking this because they’re gonna be in a position where they will be providing the medical care to people who are traumatically injured or potentially traumatically injured,” Thompson said.
Acheampong is looking forward to sharing his thoughts on the training sessions at a meeting in Ghana this October in the run-up to establishing ATCN training there. The practices taught are a plus for patients, he said.
“Dealing with life-threatening injuries first before you move on to whatever you (need) to do. Once you find any injuries you need to intervene and reassess them,” Acheampong said. “And that’s quite good for patients.”