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4. Fundamentals of Vascular Ultrasound Course

Having already taken up the benefit of SVT membership, and been in this newsletter whilst AAA Screening, I had jealously seen previous offerings go by without being able to take up the opportunity. Thus it was with an unreasonable level of excitement that I grabbed the chance to go on this edition a whole three weeks into my vascular training.

The vagaries of the NHS booking systems successfully negotiated, I took one last look at the sort of waves which normally interest me most and set off in the fancy car provided to the city furthest from the sea - a place I had last visited the day Mrs Thatcher resigned.

The following morning, a brief stroll from the hotel brought me to the fruit and veg stall by the entrance (surely something NHS Improvement should insist on at every hospital) and then around to the Clinical Sciences Building for the two days of fun. Registration provided an ideal opportunity to establish how smart many of the others are and I was surprised to see just how many people were present and what diverse working backgrounds comprised the rest of the cohort.

Any nerves were quickly dealt with through the joy of a physics filled first morning – fascinating it was too! The added entertainment of somebody teaching in my own manner and struggling to find sufficient writing space for the additions on the whiteboard merely enhanced the comfort of the subject matter.

Reacting as all outdoor enthusiasts do to confinement, lunchtime necessitated a stroll around the nearest available body of water and it was an absolute pleasure to discover the small nature reserve behind the hospital, it seemed a world away from the hustle and bustle at the front. The lunch provided was just the job to set up for more physics in the fabulous form of haemodynamics; as a fan of fluid dynamics in all its many guises, I don’t think there is any academic adventure more enthralling.

The afternoon proved to be every bit as enjoyable as I had hoped and the lecturer clearly engaged the whole class even before he started giving exam style questions for our delectation and delight causing the session to overrun such was the level of engagement.

The afternoon was rounded off with some practical applications and the opportunity to chat with the scientists demonstrating them; this in itself was of great benefit as it further exemplified the many paths which can lead to this wonderful work and the opportunities which develop from it. Personally I found the coronal stuff went over my head but, the other scans were good to see demonstrated on a different machine to those I am learning on and nicely backed up the information we had received throughout the day.  

Avoiding the opportunities offered by an evening away from home, day two dawned unusually clear headed for the strange study of the medical aspects of the science.

The Vascular Surgeon was absolutely great - it’s no mean feat to deliver complicated material to such a diverse group and make it feel both relevant and appropriate to all. I would happily have listened to her for twice the allocated time as I am sure it would have been equally fascinating and it overran due to the class being reluctant to release her.

The majority of the remainder of the day was the really scary stuff for the more inexperienced among us as it comprised a series of lectures covering the actual scanning of patients and the seemingly vast quantities of knowledge we will need to acquire in order to reach that far off goal known as accreditation.   

In order to give us time to recover from the shock, the course finished with some further practical demonstrations from head to toe before we dispersed on our several paths.

As a course I would have loved it to have been three days as I felt that most of the lecturers could have taken us a lot further on our journey of understanding than time permitted. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone training in Vascular (doctors and nurses a well as scientists) as a way of getting a sure grasp on the fundamentals of what a Clinical Vascular Scientist is all about and the services they can provide. I gained so much that it would be great to do it again once I have more experience and am better able to take advantage of the bits I didn’t fully understand this time.

Many thanks to Asif Dilshad and all his co-conspirators for putting on such an excellent course – the only thing I couldn’t understand is how anyone can bear to live so far from the sea.

Robert Bodé

Trainee Scientist

Royal Cornwall Hospital