New course trains PA students to manage normal labor and obstetrical emergencies

pa-1OHSU’s Physician Assistant Program (PA) was recently selected to pilot the Basic Life Support in Obstetrics (BLSO) Course by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It was the first time the course had been taught in the U.S..

The one-day course was directed by Harry “Chip” Taylor, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and medical director of the OHSU Physician Assistant Program.  

Thirty-six PA students transitioning from their academic year to their clinical year completed the training.

The BLSO course, developed by the AAFP, is an abbreviated version of the Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO) Course developed almost 20-years ago to assist family physicians in the management of obstetrical emergencies. BLSO was created to prepare first responders and other learners like physician assistant students, medical students and nursing students—to manage normal labor and obstetrical emergencies such as shoulder dystocia, post-partum hemorrhage and newborn resuscitation.

“OHSU was selected as the pilot site for the initial BLSO course because of the caliber of ALSO instructors in the OHSU Department of Family Medicine and in the Nurse-Midwifery Program,” said Dr. Taylor. “The insights of these expert faculty members and the feedback from our outstanding class of PA students will be instrumental in refining the BLSO course.”

Upon completing the training, second-year PA student Melissa Rhyasen said, “There was a lot of great instruction on malpresentation. This is the first time I’ve ever been exposed to this kind of delivery and it was great to be trained on how to help if necessary.”

The students were arranged in three small groups for short lecture discussions with a skills-based format, which was “beneficial,” according to TJ Scarey, PAS2. “It was a format very open to discussion and questions,” he said. “It had structure, but it was very flexible.”

“We had great instructors with experience in obstetrics and family practice,” said Kate Bennett, PAS2. “They did a great job gearing the material to PAs.”

Family Medicine faculty who participated in teaching the course included Brett White, MD; Charles Webb, DO; Johanna Warren, MD; Jessie Flynn, MD; Daisuke Yamashita, MD.  Elizabeth Kavanaugh, CNM, from OHSU School of Nursing also participated.

“We appreciate the efforts of Chip Taylor and the contribution of the family medicine and nurse midwifery faculty who graciously shared their expertise with our students,” said TedRuback, MS, PA, Associate Professor and Founding Director of the OHSU PA Program. “Based on student feedback, the course was a huge success and will provide our students with added confidence as they begin the 14-month clinical phase of their education. I’m proud of the contribution our students have made to the future of the BLSO course by serving as the initial pilot program for this worthwhile training.”

The OHSU Physician Assistant Program is a 26-month, full-time course of study leading to a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. The program is ranked 6th in the nation by US News and World Report.