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Trauma Training Programs


From time to time, I use this space to update you about the growth of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) and Advanced Trauma Care for Nurses (ATCN) training programs. ATLS has trained more than a million doctors in 50 plus countries in the past 30 years. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Norman McSwain received permission from the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons to partner with the National Association of EMTs to develop a prehospital course based on ATLS, and, soon after, PHTLS was born. PHTLS has trained more than half a million prehospital care providers in at least 40 countries in the past 25 years. ATCN was developed by the Society of Trauma Nurses in cooperation with ATLS, giving us three courses cut from the same cloth and continuity across the trauma professional spectrum.

The growth of these three programs not only gets optimal care to more patients, but it brings devoted trauma professionals into large, interactive families; the effect is an international, evidence-based body of knowledge and courses. Here are some things that have been happening with these programs over the last year.


On October 6th, ATLS released the 8th edition of its text and teaching materials. Although the instructor resources are restricted, the student manual, which includes a skills DVD, is available for $100 on the American College of Surgeons Web site.

The availability of this text is significant, because, in the past, it was restricted to ATLS course participants. Now anyone may purchase the text directly from their Web site, further expanding the reach of ATLS to those who may not have access to a course.

ATLS is also growing. Thirteen countries are working to institute the program, including Slovenia, India, Nigeria, Oman, Lebanon, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bosnia. The international flavor of ATLS was also evident in a course in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), this month that included doctors from over a dozen countries participating as students and faculty.


PHTLS saw new program starts in Costa Rica, the Philippines, Oman and Austria this year, and the text is now translated into about a dozen languages. They're looking forward to courses in India, Nigeria and Sudan among others. They have also been busy presenting "Trauma Symposia" at the EMS Today Conference and Exposition and EMS Expo. In these panels, PHTLS authors present conflicting sides of arguments regarding trauma care and describe the path determined by the science. They also give guidance on how to find and read research. PHTLS has also funded several prehospital trauma studies that should be published soon.


The ATCN course added programs for nurses in the UAE and Portugal this year, which brings the number of countries in the program to nine. They're currently working on revising their materials.

At the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress in San Francisco this year, during the international ATLS meetings, the Committee on Trauma recognized the nine countries that are running all three programs. They received awards that recognized their commitment to the care of trauma patients in running consistent training for doctors, nurses and prehospital care providers.

As I mentioned above, the obvious benefit of getting state-of-the-art training supported by science into the hands of professionals is clear. Building these large international families of professionals is an added benefit. At annual meetings in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Australasia, ATLS, PHTLS and ATCN faculty gather to discuss the science, develop training programs and work on outreach to unserved areas. These growing networks will allow more patients to obtain quality trauma care.

For more information, visit the following Web sites:

ATLS: www.facs.org/trauma/atls/index.html

PHTLS: www.phtls.org

ATCN: www.traumanurses.org/education/atcn


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