Ultrasound Courses at AECC University College – Interview with Dr. Trevor Wing
Ultrasound Courses at AECC University College – Interview with Dr. Trevor Wing
He is the Unit Leader for Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the School of Radiology and is responsible for developing, managing and delivering the Obstetrics and Gynaecology ultrasound units.
Trevor is a leading specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology medical ultrasound, with a particular interest in applying scientific research to advanced ultrasound imaging. He runs a private clinic in London where he carries out clinical imaging research studies into a wide range of gynaecological and obstetric conditions.
He tells us more about his own experience of ultrasound and the courses available at AECC University College:
“I am a Clinician, first and foremost. I studied Medicine and worked in the NHS until 2009, when I left to focus on my private practice. In my clinic, I treat a wide range of gynaecological and obstetric conditions, including infertility.
“One of my main focuses is researching the effectiveness of fertility medicines and supplements on the female reproductive system. Women are often self-prescribing these type of fertility supplements because of something they have heard in the media, some of which can actually have detrimental effects. Evidence-based research is essential to establishing which fertility supplements are safe and effective.
“Before embarking on that research, I needed to find a way to measure outcome. Ultrasound scanning was the gold standard for discovering whether there was any difference in ovarian and uterine function before and after treatment.
“I studied ultrasound at Postgraduate Certificate level between 2002 and 2005. This gave me what I needed for my research, but I didn’t stop there. I found I loved ultrasound. I went on to do a Postgraduate Diploma and an MSc in Medical Ultrasound and a Professional Doctorate in Medical Imaging. After that, I was invited to teach part-time on the course at Portsmouth, where I had studied medical imaging, and then here at Bournemouth.
“I now teach part-time on the MSc Medical Ultrasound course at AECC University College and on the ultrasound short courses in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, as that’s my area. I work three days a week in practice in my clinic and then spend around two days teaching – which includes undertaking ultrasound assessments around the country.”
Growth in use of ultrasound
“X-ray and CT haven’t changed much in recent times. Both technologies are driven by the physics of radiation in the body and so the quality isn’t improving much. But there are two imaging technologies that are moving fast: MRI and ultrasound. These technologies are driven by the increasing speed of computers and the power of software which is becoming more sophisticated resulting in smaller more powerful, higher image quality ultrasound machines.
“Every two or three years, there’s a new generation of ultrasound machines They are more powerful and the image quality is better every time. New high-end ultrasound machines are rapidly reaching the quality level of MRI images.
“The machines are significantly cheaper too. 10 years ago, you could spend £120,000 on an ultrasound machine and it would be the size of a fridge. That meant they were only available in hospitals.
“Now, because the price has gone down and the quality has improved, there are laptop ultrasound machines that cost between £5,000 and £10,000. As a result, there are ultrasound machines in GP surgeries, Physiotherapy clinics, private clinics and even in ambulances. This has led to a need for these groups of people to train in ultrasound.
“In hospitals, the demand for ultrasound is also increasing because it is starting to rival the more expensive MRI. MRI machines cost millions of pounds and you can only scan one person at a time. If you have 20 ultrasound machines in a hospital, you can scan 20 people three or four times an hour.
“There’s a real demand for more sonographers and a real shortage at the moment. The demand is there, but the training isn’t happening as fast as it needs to be. We’re seeing increasing demand for all our ultrasound courses as a result.”
What’s special about ultrasound courses at AECC University College?
“We teach from a clinical position: everyone who teaches on the MSc Medical Ultrasound and the short courses is a practising ultrasound specialist. We don’t just teach students how to conduct ultrasounds and create images, we also teach how to interpret images leading to a diagnosis.
“We’re teaching students to be able to report on their images from a clinical point of view. I believe we’re one of the few institutions that does that.
“We add to that by having visiting lectures on the course from Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Poole Hospital. These are very experienced practising consultants who give lectures on specialist areas. We are really proud of this, as most other ultrasound courses don’t offer this.
“Students on our ultrasound courses also benefit from our on-site anatomy lab. We ensure our students understand anatomy, so that when they scan they can visualise the part of the body they are scanning in 3 dimensions. This is also something that sets us apart from other ultrasound courses. We offer a very rich learning environment.”
Who takes these courses?
“Students typically fall into two different categories. Our MSc Medical Ultrasound is designed to train sonographers who work in hospitals. These students are looking to undertake a qualification in ultrasound that will allow them to practise in a hospital ultrasound department.
“The course runs over three years, part-time. The first year is the PGCert, then the PGDip and the final year is the MSc Medical Ultrasound. For the rest of the time, the students are back working in their hospitals under clinical supervision.
“Students on our obstetrics and gynaecology ultrasound short courses are generally nurses, midwives, GPs and specialist doctors. They are looking to add ultrasound to their normal day-to-day practice, enhancing their diagnostic skills."
Learning journey for students
“As these are postgraduate short courses, students come to us with a good understanding of anatomy and physiology. We teach theory in lectures over three or four days in a consecutive block: this covers the physics of ultrasound, the safety aspects of ultrasound, machine controls and how ultrasound acts in the body.
“We then apply this to students’ particular areas: so in my case, it’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology. We offer a number of different ultrasound application specialities but the physics of ultrasound is the same no matter which pathway the student embarks on.
“We then move on to clinical practice sessions in the University College. We have 10 examination rooms, each with an ultrasound machine and we take two students at a time with a tutor and guide them through carrying out ultrasound scans. Students undertake scans on volunteers from our Chiropractic programmes and well as simulators and phantoms.
“At the end of the course, students go back to their hospital units and clinics and start scanning under supervision. They generally complete enough supervised scans to reach the final assessment in about six months. We assess them to make sure that they meet the standards that are required by Consortium of Accreditation of Sonographic Education (CASE), the UK education regulatory body for ultrasound.
“Alongside this, students are tested on their knowledge of the theory through written assignments. For example, they might undertake an assignment on the theory of ultrasound, or the application of ultrasound to an area of Obstetrics or Gynaecology.
“Students are also tasked with case studies, which they write up and submit. These written assignments also go towards their final mark.”
You can find out more about the courses we offer at AECC University College here.
Above: Trevor Wing