ICU Volume 12 - Issue 2 - Summer 2012 - Cover Story

New ESICM Educational Activities - Made in China

European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) has for decades engaged in education and training as one of its core activities. Through the Division of Professional development (DPD) it now runs the European Diploma of Intensive Care (EDIC) exam; the distant e-learning tool, PACT; and the Competence Based Training in Intensive Care in Europe (CoBaTrICE) programme. Intensive care training courses are the latest addition to this portfolio. For some years now it has been a wish from individual members, as well as from national societies, for ESICM to run educational courses. This is a short overview of ESICM’s latest educational activities, which aim to instruct budding intensivists from across the social and geographical spectrum.

Introduction Course: BASIC 

In providing a course for inexperienced ICU trainees (very early on in their career), we have chosen not to re-invent the wheel. An introduction course—Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive Care (BASIC)—has already been developed in Hong Kong, and has rapidly spread across Asia as well as to Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The course was developed in 2004, and since being refined it has become labelled a robust introduction programme. Attendance on the course is free of charge to its developers, as it was a wish that the course be available as cheaply as possible. Following collaboration between ESICM and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, this course is now offered to national intensive care societies across Europe. ESICM is currently active in educating course instructors, with trainers so far having been educated in the UK, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Romania, Greece, Portugal and Serbia, with more planned to follow this and next year.

The course is held over two days, typically including 25- 30 participants and four to five instructors. Prior to beginning lessons, participants have to read a specifically written course manual and answer a pre-course multiple choice question (MCQ) test. There is also additional electronic educational material on the web, on the Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (Moodle) platform. The course alternates between short plenary lectures in core topics (also available as chapters in the book that is provided) and group work, with group work being either case based discussion or hands-on training. The course ends with a postcourse MCQ test, which has to be completed in order for a certificate to be awarded.

So far, the course has received very good feedback from participants as well as from instructor candidates in Europe. In developing the programme, ESICM hopes that each country will find a use for BASIC in educating intensivists. In Norway, where intensive care is based on anaesthesiology, it has been decided to introduce this course as an obligatory element early on in anaesthesiology training. 


Advanced Training Courses in Intensive Care (ATCIC) 

ESICM also aims to offer a series of more advanced training courses in intensive care. The target group for this are ICU trainees who are working towards finalisation of the national training programme, but it will also probably be a refresher course for other intensivists. The course concept is the same as that of BASIC. It will be a very standardised course based on a well written, well illustrated textbook of approximately 100-150 pages. Fixed power-point slide sets in core topics that coincide with the book will be delivered either on site during the course or via e-learning, with recorded lectures. Trainees will be given a pre-course online MCQ test as well as a post-course closed MCQ test and, as in the BASIC course, a lot of time is offered on group based case discussions and relevant hands-on training. At present, courses are delivered through the BASIC group in Hong Kong and through ESICM, which collaborate for their development. So far, five courses have been created, and all have been tested at least once:

• Mechanical Ventilation, beyond BASIC (developed in Hong Kong);

• Critical Care Nephrology (joint venture of ESICM and BASIC group);

• ICU Management (ESICM);

• Haemodynamic Monitoring and Management (ESICM);

• Bronchoscopy (ESICM).

All courses, with the exception of the Bronchoscopy course, have been developed along with a comprehensive course manual, slide sets, skill stations and MCQs. This year, advanced training courses have been held in Hungary (Mechanical Ventilation), in Portugal (Bronchoscopy) and in Bern (ICU Management, and Haemodynamic Monitoring and Management). In the next phase, it is important that enough instructors are educated so that the request for courses can be met.

There are plans for several new courses, and with one expected to be ready by the end of 2012. Ultimately, ESICM’s aim is to have eight to 10 different advanced training courses. All of these will be developed using the abovementioned framework, which will hopefully ease their dissemination across Europe. Of course, larger countries with well developed training programmes in intensive care may not see a pressing need for these courses, but certainly a lot of smaller nations and countries with poorly developed curriculums for intensivists could profit highly from such courses. Ultimately they will increase the quality of care provided to the critically ill patient.

ESICM’s intention continues to be to deliver advanced training courses as cheaply as possible, so that as many participants as possible, particularly those in less developed areas of Europe and the world, are able to take part. Both the course fee and the cost of teaching material will be kept low, just covering necessary direct costs.

ESICM aims to update its web-pages to provide more information about education courses throughout Europe, and to make it easier to plan attendance for those who want to enrol on a course. National societies in Europe that are interested in getting involved should contact ESICM headquarters or DPD.

For more details on courses, and for contact details, please visit

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European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) has for decades engaged in education and training as one of its core activities. Through the Division o

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