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YouTube 'Refresher Courses' Aid Medical Professionals Providing COVID-19 Patient Care

screenshot of a youtube video on covid-19 diagnosis with graham carlos md

Although busy treating COVID-19 patients and directing operations as Eskenazi Health’s chief of internal medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine Bicentennial Professor W. Graham Carlos, MD is also investing considerable energy into educating front-line hospital workers who may need a refresher on critical care and ventilator basics.

His engaging and informative Critical Care Survival Guide YouTube channel offers an efficient way for overwhelmed hospital clinicians to get information fast as they care for COVID-19 patients. Carlos and his video production partner, IU Health hospitalist Mohamed Morad, MD, record short videos on topics like oxygen delivery devices, diagnosing and monitoring COVID-19 patients, transmission of COVID-19, and how to extubate intensive care patients. A white-board lesson on ventilator basics for ICU got more than 6,000 views in the first two weeks it was posted.

“I noticed there may be a need to increase education surrounding not only COVID-19 but basic critical care, knowing more types of physicians and clinicians might be needed to care for these patients,” said Carlos. “Those in pulmonary care and some other specialty fields are familiar with ventilators and basics, but many other disciplines haven’t used that since medical school and need a refresher.”

Ventilator Basics for ICU

Graham Carlos explains the basics of mechanical ventilation in ICU for health care providers asked to step in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s currently “all hands on deck” at local hospitals. At Eskenazi, Carlos reports, “we’ve been running three to four times the typical number of patients on ventilators because of COVID-19.”

Every week, there’s new information about the progression of the novel coronavirus.

“I feel like I need to make more and more videos,” said Carlos. “It’s hard to keep up.”

He uses his personal Twitter account to disperse breaking and relevant information daily. He also serves as medical education chair for the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and has facilitated several COVID-19 related chats through the ATS Twitter account.

“When someone comments on a tweet or retweets, it’s kind of like a peer review,” he says.

As an expert in pulmonary care, Carlos is frequently consulted by media organizations including National Public Radio (NPR), the Chicago TribuneWISH-TV and others. He’s often called upon to explain the progression of COVID-19 into viral pneumonia and the role ventilators play in keeping patients alive until their immune systems can defeat the virus.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Carlos’ videos on ventilation and critical care were being used by hospital workers in places where instructional resources are scarce. Neha Patel, MD, an IU School of Medicine graduate who rotated under Carlos during residency, witnessed this firsthand during the summer of 2017 when she traveled to Botswana, Africa, as a fellow with Beth Israel Deaconess Global Health.

A patient was crashing at the small hospital in the town of Molepolole, and Patel knew the patient needed ventilation, not just oxygenation from a mask. Patel was trying to explain the difference to a puzzled local doctor. After she finished with the patient, she found the doctor watching a YouTube video on ventilation by none other than Dr. Carlos, her former mentor.

A doctor in Botswana watches a video on ventilators produced by Dr. Graham Carlos and Dr. Kara Goss

“I said, ‘That’s the person who taught me about this!’” recalled Patel, now a hospitalist with Eskenazi Medical Group and assistant professor of clinical medicine and pediatrics at IU School of Medicine.

“In many parts of Africa, information is limited to what they can find easily and free on the internet,” observed Patel. “Graham Carlos’ YouTube videos are short and very digestible. It’s an excellent delivery system.”

Kara Goss, MD, a pulmonary and critical care doctor with University of Wisconsin Health, completed her residency and fellowship at IU School of Medicine and helped Carlos create some of the earliest YouTube videos in 2013-14.

“The original videos we created were ICU-related training videos that have been used around the world,” Goss said. Now, Carlos’ videos are being consumed globally by those treating COVID-19 patients.

“Graham’s got this infectious personality that could inspire a rock or something inanimate,” mused Goss. “He has done a good job of carving out bite-sized pieces of information for these instructional videos.”

Carlos says people have messaged him from all over the world thanking him for posting free, high-quality videos on critical care and COVID-19.

“That encouragement gives me the drive to continue,” he said.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Laura Gates

Laura is senior writer with the Office of Strategic Communications and loves to tell the stories of outstanding students, faculty and staff at IU School of Medicine. A native Hoosier, she has over 25 years of experience in communications, having worked with newspapers and other media organizations in Indiana and Florida, along with small businesses, community groups and non-profit organizations. Before joining IU School of Medicine in January 2020, she was editor-in-chief of a lifestyle magazine serving the community of Estero, Florida.