St George’s, University of London yesterday launched the Managing COVID-19 in General Practice programme. Available via the social distance learning platform FutureLearn, the course commenced to educate and inform about 16,000 learners from almost 200 countries worldwide.
Specifically designed for frontline clinicians, healthcare workers and professionals tackling the 55,242 confirmed (at the time of writing) cases in the UK alone, programme learners explore the epidemiology, clinical symptoms and signs of the virus, as well as the current management strategies for COVID-19, all while keeping pace as the situation evolves.
Participants will learn how to complete a self-assessment of suspected coronavirus cases and discover the best protocol to protect themselves and others going forward.
The course will run for 14 days, requiring two hours of study per week. The programme has already brought healthcare workers from diverse backgrounds together, providing a space where they can share best practice and support each other.
FutureLearn asked learners to share their backgrounds and state why they joined the course on the ‘Welcome’ page. They found that a number of retired NHS staff who have been asked to return to work to help prevent the spread of the virus are looking to learn as much about the outbreak as possible. Here’s what some of them said:
“As a first contact practitioner, I am looking to upskill my knowledge in order to be of use to the NHS during this testing time” – Colin Waldock
“I’m a clinical research nurse from England and I will soon be redeployed to carry out COVID-19 clinical trials in the UK. this course will be of great use to my colleagues and I” – Stephen Wyatt
While the course has been built around guidance provided by UK public health bodies, its content remains relevant to healthcare practitioners on all corners of the globe. The top ten countries with a presence on the programme already include the UK, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, the US, Australia, Nepal and Iraq.
“I’m hoping to gain a more in-depth knowledge about COVID-19 and our role as healthcare professionals in supporting patients safely at a time when things are rapidly changing” – Alexandra Hejazi, physiotherapist, Canada
“I have completed the first COVID-19 course, COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and found it quite helpful. My objective for this course is to add to my knowledge and continue to be of help to those I can” – Robert Levit, first responder, USA
Dr Mohammad Razai, academic clinical fellow in primary care at St George’s, University of London, said: “With a huge amount of information coming in every day with news and advice about COVID-19, it can be difficult to make sense of the information relevant for frontline clinical practice. This course will take participants through the most useful and up-to-date research and guidance.
“By the end of the programme, we are hopeful that participants will have received concise, practical and where possible, evidence-based approach to dealing with COVID-19 in primary care.”
Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, told ET: “We have a huge number of healthcare professionals around the world who have used FutureLearn courses. Early on in the development of this pandemic, we identified the need for more general public-targeted courses, but also courses that could help professionals who were responding to COVID-19 as individuals, in their practices, on behalf of patients.
“St George’s are a partner we’ve worked with on a lot of innovative courses over the years. They responded immediately. They’ve created this course at incredible pace and we’re thrilled with, and very proud of, the impact it’s so far had with 16,000 sign ups – and we expect that to go up considerably. It sits now as part of a portfolio of healthcare courses targeting professionals that are working with Health Education England, Public Health England – a whole range of different providers and other universities around the world to try to get high quality teaching and learning opportunities to people anywhere in the world who might need them.”
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