First educational module for neuromodulation ensures field is “future-proof”

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The first educational module for neuromodulation, a masters-level e-learning course aimed at nurses and allied healthcare professionals working within the field, received its first cohort of students in September of 2019. However, the story of its launch is not a simple one. Carol Bourke, a nurse with over 10 years’ experience in neuromodulation, talks to NeuroNews about how she set about raising the £60,000 she needed to design and develop the module.

“Clinically, at the moment, if you are a nurse and work in this area, there is no recognised formal training, and that is how new the field is. It seems ludicrous now, but in a few more years, it is going to seems even more absurd,” Bourke explains.

She says that after receiving endorsement from the International Neuromodulation Society (INS), she worked together with Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK, to develop and design the course. Bourke then devised a business case that she took to Nevro, Abbott, Medtronic and Boston Scientific.

“I had to do a lot of presentations, but Nevro were the first company to fund the module; they put £16,000 into the pot, and after, Abbott, Medtronic, and Boston followed. Saluda also contributed text and graphics to support some of the learning topics. I ended up with £66,000,” Bourke told NeuroNews. “I think that part of the reason I secured funding was because the companies realised that if their medical devices are going to stay in patients; if they are going to work, then they need this group of professionals to be educated and use them properly.”

module neuromodulation
Carol Bourke

Bourke also explained that it is education that will ultimately ensure the field of neuromodulation remains “future-proof”: “Right now, a lot of companies themselves are looking after patients with devices in the clinics, which is good if one [clinic] only uses one company. But, in the case of Leeds, where they use more than one, they would need all the [company] representatives in everyday, if they wanted to look after the patients properly.

“Ideally, the nurses have to be able to at least do the troubleshooting”, she argues. “They are the ones responsible for educating the patients; they get to know the patient very well. It is easier for them to know what might be appropriate for a particular patient.”

According to Bourke, the e-learning educational module for neuromodulation aims to provide students with a critical understanding of the principals and clinical practice of neuromodulation therapies. Bourke highlighted that the e-learning aspect ensures students in Europe and beyond are able to enrol in the course. She adds: “I already have interest from nurses and allied health professionals in Europe and Australia as well as in the UK,” and speculates that, depending on the feedback, the next course will be available in February 2020.

“Kudos really needs to go to Mark Johnson, professor of pain and analgesia and director of the Centre for Pain Research at Leeds Beckett University; to the companies that made this happen, Mrs Kim Vanmouwerik and CNS Jenny Jennings for their professional and personal contributions and to the INS which initially endorsed it.”


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