Fellowship training in extracorporeal life support: Characterization and educational needs assessment

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Adult Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) use is rapidly increasing. The structure of fellowship ECLS education is unknown. We sought to define current ECLS education and identify curricular needs.

Materials and methods:

An anonymous survey with Likert, binary and free response questions was sent to Critical Care Program Directors (CCPDs).


A total of 103 CCPDs responded, a response rate of 31. ECLS training was provided by 64% (66/103) of fellowships. Importantly, 50% (52/103) of CCPDs agreed or strongly agreed that fellows should be competent in ECLS and 70% (72/103) agreed or strongly agreed that ECLS will be an important part of critical care in the next 10 years. Only 28% (29/103) and 37% (38/103) of CCPDs agreed or strongly agreed their fellows could independently manage veno-arterial or veno-venous ECLS, respectively. Formal ECLS education was 5 h or less in 85% (88/103) of programs. Desired curricular improvements were: simulation 50% (51/103), patient volume 47% (48/103), and didactics 44% (45/103).


CCPDs identified ECLS as a critical care skill, but believe that a minority of fellows are prepared for independent practice. Simulation, formal didactics and clinical volume are key needs. These data will guide the development of ECLS curriculum.

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