Graduate Diploma of Cardiac Ultrasound Webinar

Learn about the CQUniversity Graduate Diploma of Cardiac Ultrasound in this pre-recorded webinar recorded in October 2020. Qualify for accreditation by ASAR upon graduation and start your career as a qualified cardiac sonographer.

Graduate Diploma of Cardiac Ultrasound Webinar


Hi, everyone, and welcome to the webinar. My name is Robert and I'm here today to introduce you to CQUniversity.

And in particular, we're going to spotlight one of our new courses the Graduate Diploma of cardiac ultrasound. CQUniversity is renowned for innovation in medical and cardiac ultrasound training. And we're the first university in Australia to offer discipline specific undergraduate pathway into the profession. And we're very pleased to be introducing our new postgraduate award, which is the ideal course if you're currently working in a medical imaging facility. If you have an existing relevant undergraduate degree, or you're seeking a career as a qualified cardiac sonographer, so by choosing to study the Graduate Diploma of cardiac ultrasound, you'll be supported by Australia's largest team of qualified echocardiography academics. And you'll be completing extensive clinical practice whilst receiving online and learning support, combined with practical tuition through on campus residential schools in state-of-the-art ultrasound simulation labs.

So before we begin, I'd like to start with a quick acknowledgement of country and respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians on the land on which we live, work and learn and pay my respects to First Nations people and their elders past, present and emerging.

I'm very pleased to be joined today by my wonderful colleague, Paula Boucaut. Paula is the head of course of Echocardiography at CQUniversity, and she's going to be giving you some great insight into the Graduate Diploma of cardiac ultrasound. So whether you're upskilling yourself, or might be you might be getting a member of your team. This is your opportunity to ask any questions and find out more about the course.

CQU is one of Australia's most accessible and engaging universities with a footprint of 15 campuses, and a range of study hubs and centres located nationally. So when you choose to study at CQUniversity, you become part of a community. And we pride ourselves on providing a really huge range of support services to students. We're ranked in the top 2% of universities globally. And we've been awarded five stars for postgraduate skills development by the good universities guide. So I'd now like to hand over to Paula and she can talk a little bit more about CQUniversity and a bit more about the course and how it was developed alongside industry.

Thank you for that introduction, Robert. And welcome everyone that's made time to come along this evening to join us.

My experience in the field of cardiac sonography is now spending about 20 years. So I don't want to give you an exact number because I don't want to give away my age. But I graduated from Griffith University way back in the mid 90s. And I studied at the time a Bachelor of biomedical science and subsequently a masters of clinical physiology. I was really lucky as part of those courses, they included a clinical placement opportunity. And as you all know, you really get to decide whether you're like a career when you actually work within the industry, or do work experience.

Being a poor student, like most students are at the time. And my first question was pretty much which pathway offers the greatest chance of employment upon graduation. And cardiac was the one that was the response. And of course, that was what I chose. And what a great decision that's ended up being. And it's probably not a lot dissimilar to the predicament we find ourselves in nowadays. Clinical Sonography is high demand profession. It's in dire need of staff in industry. So it's a great profession to choose.

Over the course of that 20 years, I've scanned privately, publicly, I've worked full time I've worked part time I've worked as a locum. And the profession has been both professionally, personally and financially rewarding. And it's also been incredibly flexible, which is a great thing to bear in mind when you choose a career path that's going to span over probably a couple of decades. It's certainly given me the opportunity to raise a family in the background and I've got two young boys, the eldest one of which is just about to graduate year 12. I haven't been able to twist his arm into a university pathway yet but I'm still working on it.

So that's enough about where I've come from.

Academia was a choice at the end of my career because it feels like I'm giving back to the profession that I've worked in for so many years. And there truly is nothing more rewarding than seeing the enthusiasm on new students. And also knowing that I'm doing my bit to ensure that there's accessible and sustainable healthcare provisions for patients in the community. So that's why I'm where I am. But let me tell you a little bit more about now, the course that we're offering and how I can get you into this career path as well.

So some of these points will probably touch on little elements that Roberts already mentioned as we go along. But if it does, it's probably because they're really key points and super important.

Our domestic postgraduate course, is an ultrasound course it's available to Australian applicants. And unlike our undergraduate course that we offer, students that are admitted into this course must actually be employed within industry at the same time.

And through that employment, they have to have an opportunity to actively engage in clinical training for at least three days per week over a two year period. Of course, out of this time period, there's accommodation for all the usual statutory leave entitlements. So the engagement is considered to be roughly equivalent to 2200 hours of clinical training. And you'll do that through your employer.

When you graduate, the course you will qualify for registration with the Australian sonographer accreditation registry, which is really the important top Pinnacle accreditation that we're looking for us and sonographers within the industry. Now enroled in the course is considered to be part time because you guys are actually employed clinically. But by the same token, once you're enroled, you're considered to be completing the course as continuous enrolment. And that enrolment period normally takes two years from start to finish. In the background, there are certain time constraints and they're imposed by our accrediting body. In particular, ASAR normally specifies that students should have completed this study within a five year time period from commencement. So that's just a little thing to bear in mind.

There are accommodations Of course, that can be made, if you were to find a hurdle with one of the units that you are undertaking on the first attempt and needed to reattempt it or if your employment changed during the course of course enrolment, there is an opportunity to suspend your student status, and then re commence at once your employment recommences for the training opportunity. So always flexibility but it's just something I wanted to mention in the background.

The course itself, it has eight units. And here at Central Queensland University, we teach over three terms within the normal calendar here. Two of the units are offered for study during term one and we offer the next two during turn to which sees tone three spare for our students in this course to enjoy a well earned break. Now each of those terms are about 12 weeks in light. So you do sort of have ebbs and flows of study commitments throughout the year where you'll have to buckle down and hit the books and then you'll be able to come up for a breath and have another go at term two, and then relax again, overtime three. So that's a bit about how it all works.

Just reiterating some of the points. Robert has flagged Central Queensland University is in quite an enviable position. Compared to other providers, we've actually got the largest geographic footprint of any university in Australia with a campus presence in every mainland state. And out of those campuses, we actually deliver our eco program on three localities and that's Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. across those three campuses, we collectively have I lose count. Actually, I think we're up to about 12 staff permanently. We've got growing network of dozens of industry experts and casual staff, who also come on board to share their expertise and support practical tuition where needed. So we've got a wealth of experience. probably more importantly, though, is by having multiple facilities in different localities, our offering is able to reduce the student travel requirements and associated expenses that you sometimes incur with these postgraduate courses. So we're hoping we can offer you an improved student experiment experience from that point of view.

And, you know, I mentioned facilities we should go back to that because we have state of the art simulation facilities, and they're replicated on each of those three main campuses for echocardiography. They're dedicated solely to echo deliveries, and these facilities mirror the layout of a hospital clinic. And has industry popular ultrasound equipment, ECG machines, blood pressure equipment,  adjustable beds, urbanite chairs, wheelchairs, all everything you could possibly imagine, we have an on campus.

In fact, I actually almost feel bad when I sometimes visit some of our public institutions, because I think sometimes we're really, really spoiled. And I'd love to share. Now, it's in these fantastic facilities that when we do actually deliver our residential schools, and perform my final practical and what we call objective structured clinical exams, that you guys have students will come into, and will facilitate the delivery in that environment. So it's not a foreign environment, it's identical to your clinical setting. So that's a fantastic thing we can offer.

Okay, the nitty gritty of got really excited about this core structure, we have really stuck with our theme here at Central Queensland University and dared to be different. It's different to what you're accustomed to with other postgraduate offerings. So let me walk you through it. What we've done is consulted extensively with industry and listen to their feedback, and then gone away and thought about the normal training and practical skill progression that we see for students in clinical practice, and how we can best support that journey with our cost structure. So what we came up with was the eight modules that are delivered in alignment with anticipated skills development. And that's a really key point I want to point out. So the first two units that you'll undertake during study other cardiac imaging, hemodynamic dynamics and pharmacotherapy unit, and the cardiac anatomy and pathophysiology. So this is allied with when you first start getting your clinical training opportunity. And it gives you a comprehensive knowledge of cardiac anatomy. It introduces you to the ultrasound machine, the world of physics and how the image is for made formatted.

And it also gives you some basic knowledge about other modalities such as ECG, rhythm, interpretation, and even kayak or sortation. Because we all know, understanding that other stuff is equally as important if you want to be a great cinematographer.

We also know that when you first start scanning, you're probably not doing a whole scan clinically, you're probably doing portions of a scan, learning to find and how to manipulate the image and manipulate the probe. And our three-day residential schools, which come from these first two units are designed to support that orientation process. So we deliver those residential schools back to that, and I sorry, I've explained that poorly. This three days in total, we bring you on campus. And what we like to do is get a feel for where you are at with your clinical training, and give you some skills to take away to ensure that you upskill as quick as possible for your employer in the clinical setting. We do have some practical assessments associated with that delivery to make it a productive experience and, and also to give you the benefit of doing some tuition face to face.

Moving forward during the course, we acknowledge that as you scan, perhaps six months into your journey, you're starting to do more of a complete study, you're probably doing the less complicated scans that come into your department. They're probably things like cardiomyopathies, functional assessments, routine serial evaluations, perhaps chest pain evaluation. So the units we've popped in that portion of the program are designed to support that, we introduce you to assessment of cardiac function, we teach you about the measurements, you make diastolic and systolic function assessment. And in the other unit that runs alongside you get your first taste of pathology, and that's coming up with these I on top of these and cardiac messes, because we think you're pretty likely to see that during the first part of your clinical exposure. It's not until you two that we scaffold up the complexity of those theory units that you're learning and introduce. So it's really juicy topics of valvular heart disease pericardium systemic heart disease, and congenital heart disease. And then just for good measure as part of the final Capstone unit, we also throw in an element of quality assurance and teach you how to do a clinical audit. So it's a very real but well rounded course that is designed, as I said to mirror the skills progression that you have in clinical practice, and I think that's pretty special.

Before I go on, I just wanted to take a step back and talk a little bit more about the university in the background.

I've been with university now for three years. And I can really honestly say from my experience that the support the university offers, is different to, I've never encountered this level before, I think it's really personalized. I think it's almost like you're entering into a little tight knit community environment, you're not just entering into an online environment where you're going to be learning and left out to dry to manage your studies independently. That's just simply not the case.

Not only is your course delivered by qualified and experienced teaching staff. In reality, we've got so many staff across so many campuses that if you needed to speak to someone, pretty much on any given day, there's contact that could be made for an actual physical person to pick the phone up and provide some assistance.

In terms of resources, what you'll get in your Moodle site is recorded lectures, recommended readings set a step through as to key elements, you've got to take away from them revision materials, so you have a wealth of resources that are carefully selected, and therefore the flexibility to work through them during the busy week that you have at your own pace. But to make sure you stay on track, we offer face to face live weekly tutorials for every unit that you're enrolled in. They're hosted after hours. So it's pretty normal for us to log on and deliver a tutorial at seven or eight o'clock at night so that we catch even people over in Perth at a reasonable timeframe. And we really encourage our student attendance because it's through those tutorials that we can hear how you're progressing, whether you need extra support, and whether there's more we can do to make your learning more successful.

At any given time during the week, the Moodle sites also have forum discussions on them. It's a bit like using the text option on your phone, I suppose. You click on the Q&A, you post a question you might get a response from other students or comments. And you also get the unit coordinator or a staff member responding usually within a pretty fast timeframe to give you some advice or a reply regarding content as well. So lots of things available. And I really do think we walk the walk and do that well here at the university.

And it's not just about the content, I really think we also support the student. I think it's really important to acknowledge that we know that's many of the postgraduate students that come to us entering this pathway, after perhaps not having studied for a while, they may be undertaking the study alongside other family commitments. And we all know you're doing clinical placement as well. So let's not forget the competing work priorities. So whilst going back to study can be really exciting is often a really challenging experience for students. And we get that so we're here to support you.

And aside from your academic staff, there's a heap of resources that we can offer from learning centre staff that can support with assessment tasks, writing and referencing and exam preparation, learning how to prepare for an exam through two counselling services to help you manage stress or anxiety or even personal things that are going on at home. The pastoral care is really important and staff are here to make sure we keep you up to the challenge of moving through the program. And I couldn't be prouder again of that in the background. So it's just another little thing we have.

Okay, change of pace. Let's go back to the cost structure, the dreaded assessments, no one likes hearing about this, but I actually want you to think about it a little bit differently.

There are a number of different ways we assess our students as we go through those this program. And there's a very sound reasoning behind why we do this. And on the slide that you can see we do everything from online tests and quizzes, sometimes group work, case studies, logbooks, a really unique assessment called a gap poll, which I'll explain in a moment.

We think you've got to really think about what makes a great sonographer to know why we do these different assessments. A great sonographer has got to be able to think outside the box and be a puzzle solver. They need to be able to critically reason and apply knowledge to many different clinical presentations and scenarios. And to do that they've also got to be able to communicate with others in a multidisciplinary environment. On top of all that students have also got to develop professional behaviour and appropriate patient care. So there's a really complex set of skills and knowledge that you've got to have to succeed as a cardiac surgeon.

So our assessments are designed to ensure that we're assessing and looking at all of those attributes, and scaffolding it from when you're a novice right through to when you're ready for graduation. I think it makes it really interesting. The assessments are not there to be roadblocks. I like to think of them being checkpoints are benchmarks that we use to evaluate how you guys are going as students to give you some reflection. And if there's red flags, and you're not doing well, it's an opportunity for us to intervene and give you additional support. Because we certainly want to see, you all pass the first time as you move through these units. And with hard work, it is achievable.

Some of the other interesting things about our assessments, and one example is that global assessments of professional attributes over gapper, we actually look to formally recognize the partnership that we have, or the joint investment that we have in the success of you as a student. And that's the partnership between the university and your clinical supervisor. Because no doubt they're probably paying your wage. And I'm pretty sure they want you to graduate just as much as we do. And it's important that we get their feedback on how you're going. And we listen. And we modulate what we're doing on our end. And we work together to make sure we get the best outcome for you as a student. So some of our assessments like the gapper, we give up tools to your clinical supervisors. And we ask for their input on how you're displaying initiative and communication skills, and your over overall technical knowledge and skill sets. Again, these form checkpoints throughout the course delivery and allow us to identify any areas that we need to help to ensure we get improvements and keep you on track for graduation.

We see you on campus during term one, as I mentioned at the residential schools, but we don't need you back on campus at all close to graduation when we do the practical assessments in the final Capstone unit. One way that we track your practical skills progression during that time is that throughout the course, we'll ask to see case studies and ask you to send us images. And again, they'll parallel what stage of training you're at. So we might ask for a basic function assessment. Later in the course we'll ask for valve pathology, etc, etc. And we'll be able to give you feedback that you can use in conjunction with your supervisors advice on how to improve your scanning. So that's a little background on why we do what we do and the variety of assessments for us.

What else can I add in there one other thing I suppose we added a lot of quizzes at the beginning of the unit, that's just to check that you're engaging in content and keeping up to the speed of delivery. So you're not alone. Just because it's online, we've got lots of little tips and tricks that we implement in the background to keep you on track. So don't be concerned about that sort of thing in the background.

Okay, I hope you've got you all enthusiastic about applying what do you need to apply, let me tell you a couple of main things you need to obviously come into the program with an undergraduate bachelor's degree, most of you will have come from an appropriate health or medical science area if you're already employed and been offered a training position. So usually that bachelor's degrees something like exercise science or clinical measurement, you could already have done a medical sonography degree in medical imaging could even be biomedical sciences or nursing, for example. If in doubt, when you go to apply, you can supply that detail and will individually assess the suitability.

In conjunction with that we also need a written letter from your current employer stating that they can give you access to that three days per week equivalent training opportunity. And also another written lead up from a clinical supervisor who's ASAR accredited who's been nominated to supervise you. Because remember, as I said, we're going to work in partnership with that person.

So they are the three main pieces of information that we need, of course, there are a couple of other things in the background that we can work through regarding English requirements and stuff like that. But that Nitty gritties really are on individual case by case assessment, so I encourage you, if you can get those three pieces of information together, pop an application, and we'll help you sort the rest of it.

Robert, you might want to talk a little bit more about how we actually do that or where you go to do that.

Yeah, so applying to CQUniversity for this course is actually very easy. So you will apply directly for the Graduate Diploma of cardiac ultrasound. And the way that you do that is just navigate to And in the course search, you can type the full name of the course or you can just type CL74, which is the course code. And it will bring up what you can see in front of you. And there's a tab there. So, how to apply. So it will take you through a series of questions. And once you submit your application generally takes about two weeks to assess your application. Now, you may not have everything at the time of applying, and it's okay to submit documents later. So I would say that if you are thinking about applying, definitely open an application and start adding those documents in and then you can go back to it later after you've submitted.

If you're having any problems with applying, you can also call our admissions and advice. So we have a number 13, CQ uni. So that's 1327 86. And they're on hand to walk you through step by step and take you through the application process. So thank you for that. That was a really great presentation.

And we've got a question from Cassie. I just wanted to ask you, do you think that you'll be offering this course in Melbourne at some stage I noticed it's in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, with the current situation in Melbourne locked down travel for campus activities will be difficult and uncertain for next year. But Paula, did you want to talk about the impacts of COVID and about offering a nominee? I do. And thank you so much, Cassie for bringing that up, I should have mentioned it.

COVID has been the X Factor of the year that we just weren't anticipating on this scale, the disruptions that could cause the residential schools in term one, we couldn't deliver a face to face we had constraints with travel restrictions with lockdowns up in Queensland. So we were lucky in the background to have such a flexible environment and a great accrediting body who is outcome based a graduate level. So we were able to adjust what we did for our residential schools. It took a lot of work, I won't kid you. But we came up with exercises resources that we supplied to the students. And they went away and did the assessments in their clinical side of employee and their supervisor assisted and again, that set partnership I'm talking about, we work with your supervisor. So we we navigated the COVID challenges this year. If we have that same problem next year, we were prepared and ready to do the same.

I suppose the other thing to bear in mind is that we have seen some impact of COVID on clinical environments with staffing numbers and financial constraints. So it's a bit hard to anticipate how many students we might have enrolled this year. And the more the better, obviously. But again, if the numbers grow slowly, we may not deliver in all three clinicals all three campuses, the residential school experience, and that's because it's designed to be an interactive experience. If by chance, we only had a single student in Perth, it would be a bit hard to teach some scanning and do some of the wonderful rotations that we plan. So what I'm saying is we'll probably keep that up our sleeve and see what happens in the new year in terms of where we're at with COVID where we're at with the number of students able to undertake the program. And yes, we certainly have flexible case by case adjustments that we could do. And we could accommodate you in Melbourne if we had too long. It's a short response. In the end, we can make it work. And yeah, we're looking forward to the situation improving the COVID is still fluid. And we no one really knows how things will pan out week to week. So yeah, we are navigating as best we can as a university. And yeah, personally, I hope that things do get better in Melbourne so I can take a holiday potentially next year.

I've also got a question for you, Paul. So you mentioned that there's a unit of study, how many hours should a student anticipate studying to complete those units? That's a really good question. Little bit dependent on the individual student and probably also how much clinical experience you're coming into the program with. If you're quite a novice, perhaps haven't done study for a while. The average that we'd say to allocate would be roughly around 12 hours per year that you're enrolled in. So during those 12 weeks of term, it could be up to 24 hours a week that you'll have to find to successfully navigate lectures revision material, attendance at tutorials and assessment preparation. If you're finding the mastering of the content, quite easy, you might only need to spend five or six hours so it's a sliding scale. You might also find one week is easier content and a couple of weeks later in the term, you really have to put in some extra effort because it's a little bit more challenging to grasp so it'll Evan flow over the course of turn. One thing we

Try to do to help students balance the workload requirements is open up as much of the units in advance as possible. This term just gone, we were fortunate to have everything ready to go. And we adapted to COVID really quickly, and we actually had six weeks at the beginning of term opened, and then the next six weeks from the holiday break in the middle, so you can plan your time commitments really early on in term as a student and someone working in industry.

That's great. Thanks, Paula. And I got a question from Marian. Is there a textbook that you recommend in the lead up to the style of the program, and also her workplace only does echocardiograms three days a week? So will it be possible for her to do in a third day somewhere else if she was able to find that place? excellent questions. Let's go to the textbook one to start with. We have adopted as prescribed textbooks, meaning we encourage you to buy them the Nita Anderson's normal examination and also her heart disease pathology textbook, and we'll be adopting moving forward also the new book that's just recently been published by a leader and appear regarding questions and review material that can be used to test yourself. So the other three textbooks that I encourage you to go out and buy if you're thinking about enrolling.

We routinely provide access to digital readings as much as we can through the websites of Moodle delivery. And many of the guidelines that we use, which is the American Society of echocardiography are free to download. So we also make them available on the website. So in the short though, the three main textbooks.

The second part of your question in terms of training, you will need three days a week, you can absolutely split the three days between two different employers. Both site would need an ASAR accredited supervisor. So you would just have a duplicated documents submission with one lock for one employer and one lock for the next employer to give you that three days a week equivalent.

I hope that answers your question.