A comparison of the content taught in critical care transportation modules across South African bachelor’s degrees in emergency medical care

N J Conradie, C Vincent-Lambert, W Stassen


Background and objective. Critical care transport (CCT) involves the movement of critically ill patients between healthcare facilities. South Africa (SA), like other low- to middle-income countries, has a relative shortage of ICU beds, making CCT an inevitability. In SA, CCTs are mostly done by emergency care practitioners; however, it is unclear how universities offering Bachelor in Emergency Medical Care (BEMC) courses approach their teaching in critical care and whether the content taught is consistent between institutions. In our study we formally evaluate and compare the
intensive and critical care transport modules offered at SA universities in their BEMC programmes.
Methods. The electronic version of curricula of the critical care transport modules from higher education institutes in SA offering the BEMC were subjected to document analysis. Qualitative (inductive content analysis) and quantitative (descriptive analysis) methods were used to describe and compare the different components of the curriculum. Curricula were assigned into components and sub-components according to accepted definitions of curricula. The components included: aims, goals, composition and objectives of the course; content or teaching material and work-
integrated learning.
Results. The four universities that offer BEMC programmes were invited to participate, and three (75%) consented and provided data. The duration of the modules ranged from 6 to 12 months, corresponding with notional hours of 120 - 150. A total of 83 learning domains were generated from the coding process. These domains included content on mechanical ventilation, patient monitoring, arterial blood gases, infusions and fluid balance, and patient preparation and transfer. Two universities had identical structures and learning outcomes, while one had a different
structure and outcomes; it corresponded with a 58% similarity. Clinical placements were in critical and emergency care units, operating theatres and prehospital clinical services.
Conclusion. In all components compared, the universities offering BEMC were more similar than they were different. It is unclear whether the components taught are relevant to the SA patient population and healthcare system context, or whether students are adequately prepared for clinical practice. Postgraduate educational programmes might need to be developed to equip emergency care practitioners to function in this environment safely.

Authors' affiliations

N J Conradie, Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa

C Vincent-Lambert, Department of Emergency Medical Care, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

W Stassen, Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2022;38(1):20.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-05-06
Date published: 2022-05-06

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