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When Fernando Goldenberg, MD, developed his first Spanish language online training course for neurocritical care in 2015, he expected maybe 50 people to sign up – instead, more than 360 registered from across Latin America.
"It was an eye-opening experience that gave me the idea that there was a bigger thirst for knowledge than we originally thought," he said.
Goldenberg is a specialist in critical care and neurointensive care medicine. He has been working in the United States since 2002, but on return visits to his native Argentina, he noticed differences in basic care that can lead to complications for patients who have suffered from stroke or traumatic brain injuries – basic steps to prevent bed sores, for example, or infections from catheters.
Many physicians in Latin America don't have opportunities to train in specialized fellowship programs like the Neurocritical Care Training Program he leads at the University of Chicago Medicine, Goldenberg said, and there are fewer specialized training resources offered natively in Spanish.
"Many centers have the same technology as here. It's not about having good doctors or the right tools. It's just because they haven't been taught that some things need to be done differently," he said.
To fill this gap, Goldenberg is working with three of his former trainees — two in Argentina and one in Bolivia — to build a six-month long online course. It consists of almost 40 recorded lectures on neurology subspecialties and hospital safety, each about 25 minutes long, that students can stream online or download for later. They also provide course literature and maintain a blog for question and answer sessions.
After the initial success in 2015, another 280 people signed up for the course in 2016. The 2017 course, available in both Spanish and Portuguese, launched in May. Goldenberg and his team worked with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation's I-Corps program, an NSF-funded project to help conduct interviews with potential customers and understand their needs.
Given that input, they are now working with neurocritical care nurse Claudia Calvillo, BSN, RN, to develop a video-based training course for nurses, and educational materials for patients and their families. The goal, Goldenberg said, is to raise the basic standard of care for all patients, regardless of where they live.
"That's what we generally call hospital safety and clinical outcome optimization, but I would call it 'patient decency,'" he said. "It is about optimizing the delivery of best possible care by filling a gap: specific clinical training to the health care personnel involved."