Mater’s first Simulation Fellow practicing in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr Sally Byford, is leading a simulation training program at Mater—the first of its kind in Australia.
With the support of Mater Foundation, Dr Byford is implementing the Transvaginal Ultrasound Simulation Training (TRUSST) program for gynaecology trainees using a virtual reality transvaginal ultrasound simulator.
A transvaginal ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of a woman’s internal organs which can help identify issues in early pregnancy.
The TRUSST program allows more Mater trainees to learn, practice and be assessed on their ability to perform a scan in early pregnancy.
Dr Byford said the ability to perform transvaginal ultrasound scans was a vital skill for doctors who were treating women in early pregnancy who presented with symptoms of miscarriage.
“Across maternity hospitals, pregnant women with concerning symptoms can be sent home, depending on the time of day, to return on another day to have the specific scan.
“The program is a vital step in a credential pathway designed to have more Mater doctors be able to carry out the scan, and at all hours of the day.
“Using the simulator to learn provides a unique training opportunity that would normally not be available, as the sensitivities around performing such an intimate examination at a time of distress, presents a significant challenge to junior doctors learning this skill,” she said.
The simulator was funded by Mater Foundation through the Simulation Fellowship program.
Dr Catherine O’Hare is one of the gynaecology trainees participating in the program.
“Using the simulator to learn puts me at ease, as I can take my time and ask questions about how to get the best scan, without having to worry about upsetting a woman who might be experiencing a miscarriage,” Dr O’Hare said.
Dr Byford acknowledged how far simulation technology had come in ultrasound training.
“We used to train on a plastic model, but this ultrasound simulator uses scans from real patients, uploaded from centres from around the world, to ensure trainees can practice scanning on a variety of real-life cases,” she said.
“Not only are the images real, but the ultrasound simulates a scan on a patient and the probe provides feedback and lets the trainee know if the pressure they are applying is correct,” she said.