The workforce shortage of suitably trained and Accredited Echocardiographers is well recognised, despite the growth in the Cardiac Physiology workforce via the Scientific Training Programme (STP). The NSHCS, in collaboration with the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) has developed a pilot pathway that will respond more rapidly to the urgent workforce needs for Accredited Echocardiographers. This is an 18 month, full-time Integrated training scheme to deliver the Academic and work place training leading to both a Post-graduate certificate in Echocardiography and Level 2 BSE Accreditation in Transthoracic Echo, building on successful elements of the STP including Echocardiography modules, Accreditation of departments and support for trainees and training officers.
HEE funded Manchester Metropolitan University to adapt existing STP modules to ensure sufficient academic content and underpinning knowledge for the trainees on this course. The altered academic component consists of one existing 30 credit module (Ultrasound imaging in Cardiac Disease) from the STP, and one 30 credit module written specifically to cover other aspects of the BSE syllabus including Physics and professional elements. Trainees, funded at A4C Band 6, are required to complete a variety of competencies and assessments for each module within the workplace and these are recorded on an e-portfolio (Onefile). Simulator training, which can increase self-directed training time and accelerate hands-on clinical skills in Echocardiography, is supported on the course and the immersive, full-time, supernumary nature of the role will enable suitably trained Echocardiographers to enter the workforce in a significantly shortened timescale compared to current training models.
Applications for the first cohort far exceeded supply and were closed at 400. The first cohort of 12 trainees entered employment on 1st September 2020 and will exit the programme at the end of February 2022.
It is envisaged that this pilot will be rolled out to other hospitals in the UK , with the Academic provision expanded to include other universities in the UK. Applicants should have an honours degree (1st or 2.1) in Cardiac Physiology (PTP) or relevant scientific subject or equivalent experience and appropriate underpinning knowledge and skills in cardiology. A second cohort will be recruited in 2021 (aiming for a September start) and further information will be available soon.