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Education vs Training

I get asked frequently why I emphasize (and distinguish) the difference between Education and Training in the field of Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring (IONM). My short answer is "How can I not?".

My long answer is that I have witnessed a LOT in thirty years in the field of IONM. I have seen the results of "Trained" people without education in the field and I have seen cases in which it has led to catastrophic injuries to patients. The "Don't worry, the neurologist has your back" position has been tried and is found lacking! As has "these surgeons are experts; they won't make a mistake" argument! The bottom line is this: The IONM professional IN THE OPERATING ROOM needs to have formal education specific to IONM. Not on-the-job training. Not "see one, do one, teach one". Not even a partial, fragmented education/training program through an employer who will pull the student/trainee out of the education program when a case must be covered somewhere and there's not enough trained staff to cover it!

Consider this: A recent poll taken by The IOM Academy revealed that 74.2% of anonymous respondents stated that they did not feel that they had adequate education to engage in conversations with surgeons, neurologists, anesthesiologists, and anesthetists. More than SEVENTY-FOUR percent! The IOM Academy, currently and historically, has maintained an enrollment that is 40% comprised of students who have been working in the field; many have been in the field for many years. Yet, despite years of experience, they feel that their education in their chosen profession was inadequate!

Consider the following:

I recently had a conversation with an applicant to The IOM Academy. She listed on her application that she has been in the field of IONM for 18 years. She was, like the majority of practicing IONM professionals, not formally educated and trained. She was directed to read certain books and several studies and then shown "how" to connect the patients to electrodes, the electrodes to the equipment, and record the waveforms. Over the years she learned to troubleshoot and to perform clean studies. But, by her own admission, she felt inadequate and unprepared to engage in conversations with the surgeon and anesthesia team when she was questioned. She said to me,"Philip, I know HOW to do this, but I just cannot answer 'why' when I am questioned. I want to know why and be the the expert in the room that people think I am!"

I have had similar conversations with many people. This is why I founded The IOM Academy. To make education and training available for professionals entering this field and for those who are already in the field!

We believe the following:

"Training is for the routine cases, but education is for the cases that become not routine!"

And isn't that why we are really there in the first place? Yes! We are there for those cases that have untoward changes. Not the routine cases. We are there to alert the surgeon before an impending injury is permanent! This is why education and training is imperative!

If you need more education in IONM reach out to us today!

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How important is it to have a good educational foundation in the field of IOM? Speaking with a surgeon in surgery, specifically during critical moments i.e., after a real iatrogenic change can be nerv

1 Comment

I certainly agree with taking time out to educate

yourself: The confidence that one gains with the

ability to not just do but also to be able to explain

the in and out of a task that is being performed is


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