Ultrasound Education

Ultrasound Program Serving As a Model to Improve Patient Care Outcomes

James Johnson, PhD, had been at Wake Forest School of Medicine for nearly 20 years when he came up with the concept for the Center for Applied Learning.

His idea was to merge the institution’s various clinical-instruction programs into one cohesive unit that could serve not just faculty and staff at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center but also personnel from other academic and clinical entities. The Center for Applied Learning was launched in 2009, and under Johnson’s leadership it quickly became one of the largest programs of its kind in the nation.

The Center for Applied Learning's Mock OR

The Center for Applied Learning’s Mock OR

Never one to avoid change or challenge, Johnson is now establishing a new direction for the center. “Our goal is not just to offer courses,’’ he said. “We are here to improve patient care outcomes.” One of the models Johnson is using in implementing this new approach is a long-established component, the Program for Medical Ultrasound, which was founded back in 1975.

The ultrasound program has long been and remains a recognized leader in educating clinicians and technicians in applications of sonography that directly benefit patients. Some recent examples are its work in point-of-care ultrasound – employing sonography at the bedside, in the home, at the site of an accident or just about any location – and the use of ultrasound to help practitioners more easily locate veins for IV placement.

Johnson said he is determining what clinical service lines within the Medical Center could most benefit from the type of practical instruction that the Program for Medical Ultrasound provides. Without abandoning its traditional educational programs, he said, the Center for Applied Learning intends to work directly with as many service lines as possible to achieve measureable improvements in patient care.

In one recent project, the Center for Applied Learning studied years of operating room events then took entire surgery teams into its Patient Simulation Laboratory where different scenarios were played out to illustrate how the problems occurred and how they could be avoided.

“Hands-on learning to address clinical care issues provides tremendous value to the institution,” Johnson said. “We have a list of projects at the Medical Center that we believe will validate what we are doing.”

Learn more about the Center for Applied Learning.