In July 2010, the RCOG introduced its ultrasound training programme. At the time of the launch, the RCOG issued a joint statement with the Society and College of Radiogaphers (SCoR), endorsed by the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS), explaining why the training programme was being introduced and how training would be delivered. The full text of the statement is available below.
Joint RCOG/SCoR statement on ultrasound training, July 2010
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has introduced a new competency-based ultrasound training programme that forms a compulsory part of the curriculum for doctors undergoing speciality training in obstetrics and gynaecology. The College has held discussions with the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) and the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) on its new programme and how sonographers can most effectively support its implementation.
Sonographers have traditionally played a major role in the training of doctors in obstetric and gynaecological ultrasound and their involvement is not new. The importance of this contribution by sonographers is recognised fully by the RCOG, the SCoR and the BMUS. In addition, the need for sonographers to continue to contribute in this regard is recognised, as is the need for an interprofessional approach to ensure the new training programme is delivered effectively.
Role of Deanery Ultrasound Coordinators and Ultrasound Education Supervisors
The RCOG programme provides for Deanery Ultrasound Coordinators, who will normally be obstetricians-gynaecologists, and local Ultrasound Education Supervisors, who may for example be ultrasound department managers or lead sonographers. There should be local discussions between these individuals as to how the RCOG training can be delivered, taking into account the number of potential trainees of all disciplines, the numbers already being trained within the department (including sonographer trainees), the available workforce and the available departmental capacity. There needs to be recognition that good training carries a time and financial burden and allowance will need to be made for this in the training schedule and workforce planning.
NHS Trusts and Boards currently involved in obstetrics/gynaecology speciality training will need to implement the RCOG’s new competency-based ultrasound training programme as it forms part of the core syllabus requirements. Heads of School in every Deanery are responsiblefor assessing training quality and ensuring that training requirements are met in every Trust/Board, and these being met form the basis of their recognition as a training centre by the RCOG.
Resources to support the RCOG programme
The RCOG, SCoR and BMUS are very aware that there are many pressures on ultrasound departments including the shortage of sonographers, meeting service delivery and quality standards, the introduction of national screening programmes in both the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, and new initiatives in the early diagnosis of cancer.
An interprofessional approach including the RCOG, SCoR, Postgraduate Deaneries, service and departmental managers and the sonographers themselves will be necessary to ensure that the new training programme is delivered effectively without causing undue extra strain on current service and training provision. Where ultrasound departments are expected to provide the training to support the RCOG’s requirements, the ‘local ultrasound education supervisor’ may be the lead sonographer. She/he will need to confirm how many obstetrician/gynaecology trainees there are likely to be and that suitable provision has been made with regards to both the time and resources required for the proposed training; this should be done in advance of the trainees being attached to the ultrasound department.
NHS Trusts and Boards are responsible for ensuring that the necessary resources are available to deliver both the ultrasound service and training. There are centres where these matters have been resolved satisfactorily; there are others with some work to do in this respect.
The RCOG’s new ultrasound training programme, as well as improving ultrasound education for trainee obstetricians and gynaecologists, will help to improve women’s health care. The role of sonographers in supporting the training programme is vital. Service demands, NHS workloads and the current shortage of sonographers need to be taken into account as the training programme is implemented at regional and local levels.