A Model Curriculum for a Helicopter Emergency Medicine Services (HEMS) Rotation for Resident Physicians
This curriculum is designed for resident physicians at all levels of training who have an interest in HEMS.
Length of Curriculum:
This curriculum is designed to run over a 28-day period.
Helicopter emergency medicine services play a critical role in patient transport, and resident physicians may often encounter patients transported by HEMS programs. Residents, and emergency medicine residents in particular, are being offered more opportunities to gain flight experience with HEMS programs; however, these experiences may be highly variable. These inconsistencies in training experiences may lead to incomplete understanding of HEMS systems and patient care performed during flight.
The primary objective of this course is to present a standardized curriculum which allows learners to gain understanding of HEMS systems and retrieval medicine while practicing safety in the aviation environment.
The educational strategies used in this curriculum include hands-on training with senior flight staff, asynchronous learning via access to a curated reading “library,” and in-person learning via ride-along experience on the aircraft and program operational meeting attendance.
This curriculum was introduced at the authors’ institution and was completed by 11 rotating resident physicians, primarily PGY-2 and PGY-3 emergency medicine residents. Learners completed free-form feedback forms as well as a numerically graded post rotation survey. Learner feedback was used to identify areas where additional instruction was necessary and make changes to optimize learner flight experience.
The curriculum was graded by learners on a 5-point Likert scale. The statement of “My overall educational experience during the rotation met my expectations and the learning objectives outlined at the beginning of the rotation” received an average score of 4.7 based on 1-Disagree to 5-Completely agree. The statement “The longitudinal curriculum contributed to my learning” averaged 4.5. A score of 4.9 was given for the statement “I found the rotation to be of use in my emergency medicine training.” Free-form feedback was also solicited by learners and included comments such as “It was helpful for me to spend some time in the airway [and procedure] lab and go through the shift topics.”
As evidenced by the learner feedback and survey results, the curriculum was effective in meeting the designed educational objectives, and learner feedback was largely positive in nature. Utilizing dedicated daily teaching topics was key to providing a standardized learning experience and ensuring that education progressed without reliance on flight call volumes.
Helicopter aviation safety, HEMS crew member operations, retrieval medicine, advanced trauma care, advanced airway management, ventilator management, HEMS program operations.