Course Review: Advanced Paediatric Life Support (APLS)

Last week I completed the APLS course over 3 days.  I am an impartial educator and thought I would give my review – so what did I think?

APLS is a well organised and run course.  It covers a lot of material over 3 days.  The level is pitched at the post-graduate trainee – ideally PGY 2 -4 I think.  The days were long – 11 hours of material in a day… this is probably counterproductive.  The course could be streamlined I think without losing too much.

At ~$1900 – it is a reasonably expensive course.  For that money you get a lot of theory, manikin-based scenario training, but no animal / cadaveric models to improve your clinical skills.

The learning is largely based around lectures – not everybody’s preferred format!  I found the lectures a bit long and repetitive, especially if you had done the required pre-course reading of the manual.  The teachers were friendly and well-informed, and an effort to remain entertaining was evident.

The scenarios and skills stations were OK.  As a more experienced participant I found being put on the spot in simulation to be a strong learning tool and allowed me to identify my weaknesses and cognitive errors.  I was aware that some of the more junior participants found the live simulation a bit confronting.

The material presented is largely up-to-date, though there are some areas where there is a lack of evidence base.  For a ‘resus course’ the absence of ultrasound strategy was striking.  The preference for ETT over LMAs in resus seemed odd given recent changes in most major guidelines

The testing and scenarios were OK, but did lack some flexibility to allow more experienced clinicians to make judgement calls rather than blindly follow protocol – ie. there is some ‘lowest common denominator’ effect – I guess this is a function of running such a broad ranging course.  Good for jnior staff, but a bit frustrating if you are 10+ years into your career.

Summary:

APLS is a well run course that covers an ambitious amount of material in 3 days.  The educators are entertaining and well-versed.  I recommend it to junior doctors, and staff who are unfamiliar with Paeds patients and wanting to extend their knowledge from adult care.  For the office GP who wants to brush up their resus skills – it is OK.

If you already do a lot of Paeds, especially in ED or anaesthesia environments than this course might e aiming a bit below your educational needs.

Any one out there got experinces of the APLS to share?    Casey

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