Background and objectives: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Colonoscopy can be an extension of the care provided by a family physician to help substantially reduce CRC morbidity and mortality. Family physicians trained in colonoscopy can provide access to care in rural and medically underserved areas.
Methods: The Department of Family Medicine and the Colorado Area Health Education Center (AHEC) developed the Endoscopy Training for Primary Care (ETPC) program to teach primary care physicians to perform colonoscopy. The program included online didactic education, a formal endoscopy simulator experience, and proctoring by a current endoscopist. Participants completed a baseline and follow-up survey assessing CRC screening knowledge and the effectiveness of the endoscopy training for ongoing screening activities.
Results: To date, 94 practitioners and health professional students have participated in the study. Ninety-one (97%) completed the online didactic portion of the training. Sixty-five participants (77%) were physicians or medical students, and the majority (64%) was in the field of family medicine. The year 4 (2011) follow-up cohort was comprised of 62% respondents working in an urban background and 26% in rural communities. Many participants remain in a queue for proctoring by a trained endoscopist. Several participants are successfully performing a significant number of colonoscopies.
Conclusions: ETPC program showed success in recruiting a large number of physicians and students to participate in training. The program enhanced perceptions about the value of colon cancer screening and providing screening endoscopy in primary care practice. Providing sites for simulation training throughout Colorado provided opportunity for providers in rural regions to participate. As a result of this training, thousands of patients underwent testing to prevent colon cancer. Future research relating to colonoscopy training by family physicians should focus on quality assurance and determining best methods for procedural competence.