Avera Medical Minute: Course teaches physicians how to intubate patients

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Avera offers a one-day intensive course for physicians to learn how to put a breathing tube in a patient. This can be especially helpful for doctors in rural areas that don't do it that often.

The mannequins set up at the conference each represented a different scenario.

"It might be a pediatric patient or a trauma patient or a patient with anaphylaxis from a bee sting, a bleeding patient and trying to give them different, but real life scenarios that they're going to likely see in common emergency medicine practice," Dr. Luke VanOeveren said.

He's an emergency physician with Avera, who also taught at the conference. The typical physicians that attend this conference work in small towns or rural areas.

"Fairly infrequently, they have to intubate someone. With that being, put a breathing tube in them for different reasons," he said. "And it's something like I said, they don't do very often and yet, it's a critically important skill. And it's one that has serious consequences if it doesn't go well."

So the goal is to give them the tools they need to be comfortable to do this back home.

"The facility I'm in currently doesn't have any nurse anesthetists available, so we have to manage all of the airway issues," Dr. Regg Hagge said.

He works at a hospital in Newcastle, WY, which is in the northeast part of the state near the South Dakota border. He has worked with Avera eCARE services since 2009.

"I think this is an excellent course. Avera always does a good job of working with rural facilities and trying to support them," he said. "You just don't have all the back up that the tertiary facilities have."

Several emergency physicians from Avera teach the one-day course as well as an expert from a national organization. It was the 6th time Avera hosted the conference.

"They just don't get the exposure and practice to do it when they don't see it very often," Dr. VanOeveren said. "So we got together and figured that this is a way we could help them."

It doesn't just help the doctors who physically attend. They're also able to take what they've learned home and then teach their colleagues.
Dr. Hagge said it's also good to take courses like this as a physician because you never stop learning.