The Advanced Trauma Operative Management (ATOM) training team are preparing for the new course manual, which will be published next year.
Dr. Mary Stephens, Edmonton ATOM Director says. “It’s the best course to give junior surgeons confidence that they can deal with these rare but rapidly fatal injuries. For an experienced practitioner, it’s a great reinforcer of confidence in their skill set.”
The course increases surgical competence and confidence in the operative management of major blunt and penetrating injuries. The course teaches in hyper-realistic form how to find an injury, decide what to do and fix it. “How do you fix a stab in the heart?” Dr. Stephens asks.
“People line up to get into the course,” Dr. Stephens says, “Military nurses, and healthcare professionals from throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta”.
In the 2018 General Surgery residency accreditation, residents identified ATOM as a program highlight.
Her message to residents is “You’re gonna love it”. Although it’s not available until PGY3 after they have mastered basic surgical skills such as suturing.
Dr. Stephens, who started the course in Edmonton November 2007, says she launched it with “$3,000 and a lot of goodwill”. She has led the training of 114 MDs, and hence 114 RNs since inception.
Unique in Canada to ATOM training is that the U of A integrates nurses into the course alongside physicians and surgical residents. Dr. Stephens says, “If nurses are trained in isolation we won’t mimic a real OR team.”
The course consists of six 30-minute lectures followed by a four-hour lab session during which the student will manage 12 different life-threatening injuries.
It was the first major course out of the Ray Rajotte Surgical Medical Research Institute – whose manager Greg Olsen flew to Connecticut to learn how to prepare his facility for it.
Although ATOM Instructors are all volunteers, and surgical supply companies let the team trial new anti-coagulant drugs and donate equipment, the Division of General Surgery still funds the course. Five years from now Dr. Stephens hopes the course will be financially self-supporting. Her vision also includes bringing anesthetists into the OR simulations. Furthermore, Dr. Stephens hopes that all General Surgeons in Alberta will take ATOM training, as well as the majority of OR nurses.