Combatting the Toxicology Skills Crisis

MONTREAL: Each year, tens of thousands of North Americans experience intentional and unintentional poisonings and overdoses from both prescription drugs and other widely available chemicals and substances that can result in serious illness and even death.

In such cases, complications increase when the diagnosis is not made upon initial evaluation and late medical care increases the chances of morbidity. Certain substances, such as methanol, a widely available chemical, can lead to outbreaks, leaving patients requiring extensive medical care and overwhelming medical facilities, an occurrence which all world regions have stuffed with in recent years, according to data from the World Health Organization.

To compound the problem, training for front-line healthcare practitioners is lacking. It is even more challenging on global scale where the vast majority of Universities and Colleges that provide medical and nursing instruction have no one formally trained in clinical toxicology on their faculty, said Dr. Robert Hoffman, professor of toxicology and emergency medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

In the US alone there are nearly 200 medical schools and over 100 schools of pharmacy, yet only 5,600 medical toxicologists. According to a 2019 report from the Society of Toxicology, Undergraduate toxicology programs remain somewhat rare, however, in part because many undergraduate-focused institutions lack both sufficient faculty and specialized coursework in toxicology to offer a complete undergraduate degree.

In order to help remedy this situation, the Montreal Medical Toxicology Initiative (MMTI) has partnered with the McGill School of Continuing Studies to offer online, self-paced training entitled Clinical Toxicology Fundamentals for Front-Line Practitioners. Lead by Dre Sophie Gosselin from McGill University Emergency Medicine, the Centre Antipoison du Quebec and the Hopital Charles-Lemoyne in Montreal, Canada and Dr. Robert S. Hoffman, from NYU School of Medicine and New York City Poison Control Centre who's been practicing for over 30 years, this three-module online program aims to provide emergency physicians and other healthcare professionals with the required knowledge and skills to master the management of the three most important poisonings (salicylates, acetaminophen and toxic alcohols).

We and many of our clinical toxicology colleagues have been asked for years by medical students, residents and other physicians to share our course slides for those who cannot attend. Although those slides would be useful, they fall short at explaining all the intricacies of the topics, explained Dr. Hoffman. Fully accredited for CME by the McGill Office of Continuing Professional Development, students can purchase courses individually and institutions can benefit from subscription-based pricing with unlimited number of users.

''We want to make toxicology training courses available here in North America in a format that allows adult learners to absorb and reflect on the information at their own pace, make it interactive, based on real cases, said Dre Gosselin. A body of research supports the efficacy of the online, self-paced format. A 2019 report by Vo and colleagues demonstrated that Video delivery of educational content was associated with higher student satisfaction and relative improvement in score compared to textbook. Students overall expressed comfort using the internet and new technology to obtain new medical education
(PRN | 11 months ago)

Like This Article?
Combatting the Toxicology Skills Crisis