15 Nov 2018

Cabrini grants spawn research papers by Monash medical students

Intensive care medicine is team work. 
Image: CHEST
by Anne Crawford

A successful research grant program for Monash University medical students expanded last year by the new Clinical Dean at Cabrini Health, Associate Professor David Brewster, is bearing fruit with the first batch of papers coming on line.

Ten students were awarded Cabrini Senior Medical Staff Association Research Grants in 2017 leading to three publications in recent weeks with others under submission, and to multiple presentations at a Cabrini research conference.

Under the program, the students were invited to apply to partner specialist medical staff members at Cabrini hospital in a research project. They receive $1500 each at the completion and presentation of their research. A further 13 students were awarded the grants last month (link).

Ms Faith Low, now a fifth-year student, was the first author on a narrative review paper published in the Journal of Critical Care which evaluated the effects of team-training in intensive care medicine, (as distinct from individual training or simulation not involving actual clinical teams).

Assoc. Professor Brewster, also the Deputy Director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), was the senior author on the paper. As an educator, he often trains ICU staff in teams. “I wanted to explore the effectiveness of that,” he said.

“Faith put in a mountain of work to produce an excellent review of the current international literature on team-training,” Assoc. Professor Brewster said. “I think it will have impact with both medical and nursing educators practice and also challenge future intensive care research to find positive clinical outcomes following education.”

The paper reviewed 27 relevant studies, whittled down from 187 abstracts. These demonstrated that ICU staff education, in terms of professional development, may best be done in teams.

“Working as a team is critical in intensive care because a lot of the therapies and treatments we’re trying to provide for staff rely on interdisciplinary collaboration and on multiple people delivering different points of care together,” he said.

The paper identified certain skill sets that have been well taught through team-training including adult life support, airways management, trauma and septic shock management.

It looked at the perceptions staff had of training in teams, noted behaviours that were altered in a positive way through team-training, examined the effect on knowledge base and how that was improved, and whether there were any clinical outcomes associated with the training.

While the studies showed there were immediate positive benefits of team training for ICU staff, the duration of the behavioural effects was unclear, the paper noted. Further research was needed into this, Assoc. Professor Brewster said.

“We know that skills decay after 12 months of training so it would be important to know how long it lasts so we can know how frequently to train staff,” he said.

There were few reports showing the clinical outcomes of team-training although one study, for example, showed that survival following cardiac arrest improved after it.

Assoc. Professor Brewster said. “It was Faith’s first paper, the manuscript was of high quality and it was published in a Q1 journal. The second author, Diane Horrigan, is the Cabrini Librarian and has spent years helping Monash medical students and teaching them about how to use the library for high-quality literature searches,” he said.

The other Monash University medical students who were grant recipients last year with papers published recently are Angus Taylor and Ian Tan.

The Cabrini clinical school is part of the undergraduate medical education program coordinated by Central Clinical School, Monash University.

To read the paper


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