Stanford creates free online course on COVID-19 for healthcare workers

SOURCE: Angela Weiss/AFP
Healthcare workers have an uphill task in light of the pandemic, and Stanford’s free online course aims to help them care for COVID-19 patients and prevent the spread of the disease.

By U2B Staff 

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Here’s some welcome news for healthcare workers — Stanford emergency physicians have created a free digital course on caring for COVID-19 patients and preventing the spread of the disease. 

Stanford announced that “COVID-19 Training for Healthcare Workers” is free and available to anyone with a smartphone or tablet. The course is designed for physicians, nurses, paramedics and community health workers who provide care in many low- and middle-income countries. 

The five-hour course features short video lectures, study guides and quizzes on COVID-19 care, from proper hand washing to connecting a patient to a ventilator. It covers topics including symptoms and signs in patients with COVID-19, early stabilisation of patients, preventing the need for intubation, and ventilator management of patients.

Since it launched July 17, more than 25,000 people in 143 countries have enrolled in the course.

Matthew Strehlow, MD, associate professor of emergency medicine and director of Stanford Emergency Medicine International, said that most online lessons about COVID-19 care have focused solely on ventilator use. He noted, however, that few patients require ventilators and those who do often fare poorly. 

“It’s better to prevent patients from needing ventilators,” he said.

While the Stanford course includes techniques for ventilator use, Strehlow said they wanted to build a course that focuses on early recognition and management, which keeps the healthcare workforce safe, which keeps the virus from spreading and that limits the mortality rate.

Interested healthcare workers can enrol in the course on Coursera or edX, or download it from Stanford’s Digital MEdIC app, which is available on ios or Google Play for Apple and Android users. 

Once downloaded, students can take devices to locations without reliable internet service and let practitioners use them to learn the skills. 


Filling in the knowledge gap for healthcare workers

There are 16 videos in the course that are narrated by Physicians from Stanford Emergency Medicine International, a programme that aids and educates emergency medicine workers around the world, along with colleagues from other institutions. 

Healthcare workers can expect lessons such as learning the proper ways to put on and take off protective equipment, how to evaluate sick patients, when to put patients on supplemental oxygen, and which setting to choose for a patient on a ventilator, among other techniques. 

Explanations are accompanied by images such as a chest X-ray, a graph of medication doses, an animation of a patient who’s having difficulty breathing, a video of a medical worker taking off personal protective equipment to facilitate worker’s learning. 

The course is also useful in filling in the knowledge gap by identifying what steps workers can take when resources are lacking, such as how to diagnose shock without ultrasound equipment. 

The course is in English, but its developers are working on a Spanish translation, with others to follow.