A novel one-week externship programme for members of the vascular surgery industry has been launched at Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, USA; the busiest vascular unit in the USA. In the course of the week, attendees are able to observe a range of surgical procedures and interact with the department’s surgeons and nurses. Unlike other comparable hospital programmes, the Vascular Industry Externship runs over an entire working week, immersing attendees in the day-to-day realities of a high-volume vascular surgery department. Vascular News spoke to David Deaton, a consultant at Cleveland Clinic, about how the programme is working and how the vascular surgery team hope it will benefit both them and the industry participants.
What inspired Cleveland Clinic to begin the externship initiative?
Vascular therapy has been transformed through the development of endovascular therapies and techniques developed over the last 20 years. Many, if not all, are designed and produced as a result of private capital investment and are provided by private companies. We felt that it was important to provide some clinical education and experience to those working for these companies that make decisions that will eventually affect patient care and outcomes.
What do you hope to achieve through the programme?
We hope to provide participants from vascular industry a better clinical background and understanding of how vascular patients are evaluated, treated and followed in a clinical setting in such a way that they can more effectively understand the ongoing needs we have as physicians caring for these patients and the needs of the patients themselves. The programme also seeks to foster a more collaborative and informed relationship between vascular physicians and those in vascular industry.
The care and outcome a given patient with a vascular condition experiences is the product of not only the doctors and nurses that patient might see, but of the entire health care system that includes hospitals, health care administrators, biomedical engineers and the whole host of professionals that work in companies providing either diagnostic or therapeutic products for these patients.
What range of procedures does the course cover?
Externship participants have the possibility of observing the entire spectrum of vascular procedures performed at Cleveland Clinic which is the busiest vascular unit in the USA. The particular agenda for each participant can be customised to their specific areas of interest.
How many attendees have completed the programme so far?
We have had approximately 15 participants over the first four to five months in which the externship has been offered. In general, the feedback has been positive, but we ask each participant for detailed feedback immediately after their week of participation in an effort to continually iterate the programme. Insights regarding preparation prior to the externship week, most useful experiences and potential new elements of the externship have all resulted from the feedback of our initial participants.
What has your team learned by interacting with attendees?
Many of the vascular surgeons, nurses and others who form our Department of Vascular Surgery at Cleveland Clinic have only had brief exposure to those who work for companies producing the tools we use daily. The one-week period allows for significantly more exchange and better understanding of what factors go into the decision making process on the industry side and what training backgrounds and career paths are like in the various roles at a medical device company. Many of our providers are also interested in learning how best to communicate with industry regarding new ideas and clinical needs in vascular therapy.
What has been the biggest challenge in setting up the externship programme?
One of the bigger challenges is the novelty of the programme and simply introducing the idea to both partners within Cleveland Clinic and to potential participants from vascular industry. Clinical education for non-medical personnel is not available in any formalised programme and this externship is an initial effort to change that. We hope to provide an intensive and broad one-week clinical experience that would take many months to achieve using the sporadic one to two-day visits to hospitals that most companies use to educate their employees currently.
Do you have plans to expand the programme across other Cleveland Clinic locations?
We now offer the possibility of spending time at some of our regional facilities and would consider broadening the programme to other Cleveland Clinic sites in the future if the demand exists. We will also likely expand the clinical programme to other elements of the Heart Vascular Institute as we continue to refine and grow the programme.
Prem Adial, Senior Product Manager, US Vascular-Critical Care, Edwards Lifesciences, spent a week attending the Vascular Industry Externship. He told Vascular News about the important points he took from his experience.
What was your main take-home lesson from the week?
The intricacies of vascular surgery. New technology is constantly expanding and improving the field of vascular surgery. A great partnership between industry and vascular medical professionals is key in bringing innovative products to the market. Also, throughout the week I was taking notes on how Edwards Lifesciences can better support and help the medical team and patients. The programme was a great opportunity for people in industry to have access to staff, surgeons, and surgeries.
What was an unexpected lesson that you learned?
The day is constantly evolving. It takes a true team effort to manage the patient workflow and all associated aspects of it. The entire team must be agile and aware to adjust their surgeries as needed.