ECMO tech vs ECMO SPECIALIST…Does it really matter?
Let me answer that before you read on. YES!! It matters greatly!
ECMO Advantage has the opportunity to work with many institutions across the United States. We are also able to communicate and associate with other providers of extracorporeal support. One striking thing that I have noticed over the years is the wide range of expectations of the professional sitting behind the ECMO pump. These expectations range from simply having a bedside RN write down numbers and call someone if there is a problem…to a well trained, highly experienced ECMO Specialist (RN, RRT, or CCP) that has full command and understanding of not only the ECMO equipment, but also the disease process, ICU care of that disease process, and how the ECMO support process can best be utilized to provide the most benefit to the patient.
There are several ways to provide ECMO support and there are several devices and configurations of an ECMO system that can be used to support ECMO patients. There are many ways to manage the patient on ECMO. But I believe one aspect of quality care that is often overlooked is the ability of the ECMO Specialist to make all those things work together for the benefit of the patient. That is what we strive for at ECMO Advantage. All of our ECMO Specialists are RN’s, RRT’s, or CCP’s who have ICU backgrounds in addition to their many years as an ECMO Specialist. They all know what it’s like to provide long term care for a critically ill patient in the ICU. They understand the ICU environment and what is involved in the care of a patient on ECMO from the perspective of the ICU healthcare provider. In addition, they have full command and understanding of the ECMO process (that is not to say we are not all still learning!). The combined knowledge, skills, and experiences definitely provide an ECMO Advantage to the clients and patients we serve whether that be in the role of consultant, educator, preceptor, primer, coordinator, or the ECMO Specialist sitting behind the pump.