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Challenges of Education in the Digital Age

Guest Editorial

Challenges of Education in the Digital Age

Introduction

This year has brought many challenges and changes that have affected us all. The coronavirus disease-19 pandemic has put us into a defensive mindset, both personally and professionally, as we try to protect lives and get a handle on what is “normal” without a vaccine for this horrific disease. In a variety of ways, health care professionals have been stepping up and finding new means to help peers and patients be as safe as possible. As one of those professionals, I created a solution related to wound care education through virtual wound rounds. 

Safety Through Education

Education itself has suffered at every level during this pandemic, including the ability to host live events such as conferences and hands-on workshops. During this time, online webinars and other virtual initiatives have become more popular and convenient to meet educational needs and continuing educational requirements. This is also creating a plethora of recorded educational opportunities that can be viewed on-demand. 

For those of us who are “old school,” moving forward so quickly in a digital sense has been a bit overwhelming. However, for the sake of education I have found myself to be almost as quickly adaptable as my younger peers. Still, these changes can be daunting for those of us old enough to remember the days before the internet and smartphones, when betadine and wet-to-dry dressings were standard of care, and there were really only 2 educational sources available for clinicians to seek high-level wound care learning opportunities: the Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC) and the Ostomy Wound Management (OWM)  journal. SAWC has continued as a virtual event during the pandemic, and OWM continues as Wound Management & Prevention, both providing an amount and level of education that continue to amaze me. The editorial philosophy mirrors my personal goals, which I have followed when creating various educational opportunities: to advance the science and art of skin, wound, ostomy, and incontinence care, to help others express and share their findings and ideas, and, most importantly, to improve the quality of patient care.

Education on the Move

In 2005, I relocated to a rural area where health care providers did not have educational opportunities related to wound care. In 2009, as a patient advocate to improve care, I launched Wound Care Roundtable, which shortly thereafter became known as Wound Healing Roundtables (WHRs). The WHRs are live discussions among wound care and industry experts, and often include patients whose cases are particularly compelling. My mission with WHR has been to present wound care best practices and the science behind industry’s products in one educational setting. This continues to be a successful venture (pandemic aside).

After returning from teaching in Saudi Arabia this past March as COVID-19 spread globally, I became more aware of how much education was being interrupted. Most notably, universities were canceling student internships; thus, students were looking for instructional videos to supplement their clinical rotations. As studies suggest,1 there was already limited wound care education offered during schooling, and a double benefit to this situation quickly emerged. I did not hesitate to offer an alternative educational opportunity to students. This opportunity mimicked the same format as my WHRs, including patients in a virtual platform (without including industry, however). The professors in the Department of Physical Therapy at The George Washington University accepted my proposal and appreciated the value of the experience. 

Due to the amount of preparation time and not being technologically savvy, I reached out to HMP Global, specifically to Executive Vice President Peter Norris and Senior Vice President, Wound Care Division, Jeremy Bowden, to inquire about the possibility of assisting me with this virtual platform. I am so grateful that they did not hesitate to help me with this endeavor. This educational opportunity has since grown into a Virtual Wound Rounds (VWR) series of events that is gaining global recognition.  

Introducing VWR

I have developed, hosted, and moderated each VWR. After selecting a topic, I invite experts to participate and begin working on a webinar presentation that is recorded for future viewing. I try to present a “typical” day in the wound clinic during these presentations, showing a case scenario or information with a patient present. The discussion then begins, and interaction by all participants is encouraged. Through this initiative, I want others to learn valuable information they can use in their settings, to witness how a multidisciplinary team can contribute valuable knowledge for the betterment of the patient, and to see that a multidisciplinary team can contribute toward the same goal.  

The positive responses continue to pour in from various health care disciplines, that is, from professors, students, industry leaders, and seasoned clinicians from around the world. Because of the many requests to have these available on-demand, HMP Global began recording the sessions. I am happy to say that the session are available at no cost to attendees.

To date, we have completed 9 VWR events, with 45 experts for approximately 16 hours of sessions that can be viewed online at whywoundcare.com and woundcarelearningnetwork.com. More sessions are already scheduled and being planned.

Moving Education Onward: An Invitation

The VWR provides complimentary educational content while promoting best practices for students and new wound care clinicians. It brings together key wound care experts from all disciplines and care settings to share their knowledge and expertise to help clinicians better understand current science and thereby help optimize positive clinical outcomes for patient with wounds. 

I am extending an invitation to you, the reader, to view these events. I am also encouraging you to become a panelist to share your knowledge and expertise. 

In addition to VWR, I am also working on a separate virtual project to include industry, so that we clinicians can continue discussing the science behind today’s products. Clinicians learning how to select and use specific products appropriately remains crucial. I want to extend my gratitude to HMP Global and all of the wound care experts who have volunteered to share their knowledge with others. Thank you all for promoting best practices.

Affiliations

Mr. Aviles is the wound care service line director, Natchitoches Regional Medical Center, Natchitoches, LA, and a faculty advisor/instructor at the Academy of Lymphatic Studies, Sebastian, FL. Please address correspondence to: frank.aviles@nrmchospital.org.

The opinions and statements expressed herein are specific to the respective author(s) and not necessarily those of Wound Management & Prevention or HMP Global. This article was not subject to the Wound Management & Prevention peer-review process.