Dr. Paul Olszynski, right, and Dr. Troy Appleton were instrumental in organizing the first SASKSONO conference in 2016.

Engaging learners a key part of SASKSONO19

Ahead of the upcoming SASKSONO19 conference, clinicians, medical students and residents are preparing for the fundamental sessions – with the emphasis on fun.

By Kristen McEwen

Keeping content engaging is something organizers consider a priority when putting together the SASKSONO conference each year.

It’s a method organizer and educator Dr. Paul Olszynski (MD) brings from his own lectures to the annual conference.

“That’s when people learn, you engage them and draw them in – that creates the desire to keep learning after (the lecture),” Olszynski said. 

He added that people can only retain so much information in the moment, but if it’s engaging, students are more likely to return to the material to learn more.

This year’s conference, SASKSONO19, is an in-depth look at clinical ultrasonography, also known as point of care ultrasound (PoCUS).

It will feature the SONOlympics — a set of challenges designed for students to interpret and perform various ultrasound scans. The competition also includes various entertaining activities such as being blindfolded and guided by peers to create a scan of the heart or an image of a kidney.

It will also feature a multidisciplinary roundtable, including PoCUS experts from pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, critical care and anesthesia. They will discuss developing common standards in PoCUS training, quality assurance and documentation.

He noted that the conference is a great opportunity for medical professionals and students to learn about current methods and practices, while also sharing what’s new in PoCUS education.

“We’re in Saskatchewan, we’re a bit like an island surrounded by wheat,” Olszynski said. “But PoCUS, or clinical ultrasonography, it’s expanding everywhere.”

Olszynski was the recipient of the 2018 Canadian Point of Care Ultrasound Society (CPoCUS) Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes individuals for their engagement and initiative in the field. He was nominated by several colleagues in the Department of Emergency Medicine for his outstanding involvement in PoCUS education for undergraduates and postgraduates.

During the past 11 years, Olszynski has become more involved in teaching medical education. About five years ago, he helped to create the undergraduate ultrasound curriculum.

In 2016, several students formed an interest group called USaskUS (University of Saskatchewan Ultrasound Student Interest Group) and approached Olszynski looking to learn more and gain more PoCUS experience.

He assisted students in reaching out to Saskatchewan experts to present on using PoCUS in their own fields, from sports injury diagnostics to use in intensive and critical care. The first ultrasound conference – SASKSONO16 – was a hit with the students.

“I think that’s what’s exciting — (SASKSONO) is growing and evolving in a really great way,” he said.

The success of SASKSONO would not be possible without the help of Clinical Learning and Resource Centre, Olszynski added. They help provide the resources to allow clinicians and students to continue training and developing skills in PoCUS.

SASKSONO19 – POCUS Deep Dive is on March 2 in the Health Sciences Building. Registration is open.