A day that changed my practice.


In 2013 I was perfectly comfortable with my assessments skills as an intensive care physiotherapist. I believed I was doing the best I could using observation, auscultation and chest radiographs to deliver the care my patients needed. However, one day my practice was challenged and career direction changed when one of our unit’s intensivists introduced me to a new way to examine the chest. 

“To be honest, I don’t bother with auscultation and I can’t rely on AP chest x-rays!” he said. “What do you use?” I asked tentatively. “Lung ultrasound. Do you want me to show you?” That was it, the point at which my outlook on my profession shifted. Why had I never heard of this before and why aren’t all critical care physiotherapists using it? I discussed learning lung ultrasound with my senior physiotherapist at the time and received a categorical; “No!” “It’s too specialist!” That for me just wasn’t good enough.  This was too important to pass my profession by. 

Since that day I have made it my mission to learn lung ultrasound and spread the word about it to as many respiratory and critical care physiotherapists as I possibly can. It took a while, but with the help of my intensivist colleague and mentor, I eventually learnt how to independently perform lung ultrasound. I became the first physiotherapist in the UK to gain core ultrasound in intensive care (CUSIC) accreditation. Now I felt confident. I needed to spread the word further, so I sent my first Tweet about lung ultrasound in February 2016.  Within an hour and a half I had the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Respiratory Care wanting to know more. 

To date I have taught an introductory lung ultrasound course to over 100 physios across the country. I recently completed another essential milestone by becoming the first physiotherapy CUSIC mentor, which allows me to train and accredit from within my own profession. As a result of my incessant pestering of the CUSIC committee I was invited to join as the allied health profession lead which I accepted without a second thought. Along this journey I discovered the POCUS (point of care ultrasound) community, and they are as passionate as I am. Now I need to spread the word even further, showcase the technique, teach the way and prove anyone can learn lung ultrasound. 

I want to be the best physiotherapist I can and I believe lung ultrasound can help me, and others, to do just that. Lung ultrasound has given me the autonomy to assess and treat my patients more effectively and I now plan to prove that by being the lead co-ordinator on research projects nationally.

In the end I needed more than a day to change my practice, but I fondly recall the moment it changed as I stood next to my mentor on our ICU treating our patient in bed space two, together.

S. A. Hayward – Specialist Physiotherapist

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust