Course information

Presentation

This course is designed to improve your skills and achieve excellence in fetal diagnosis and management of congenital heart defects (CHD), and in morphological and functional evaluation of the fetal heart.

Through a comprehensive approach, spanning from pathophysiology to detailed imaging, acquisition of knowledge is achieved through intensive exposure to a large number of real cases, representing all possible conditions and situations found in a fetal cardiology unit.

Thus, this program offers a chance to learn from experts how to best perform advanced fetal echocardiography, while progressively increasing understanding on all relevant CHD and their most common variations.

An important section is dedicated to advanced assessment and management of fetal cardiac arrhythmias. Finally, you will become familiar with the possibility of fetal therapy for CDH and will acquire full advanced training in evaluation of fetal cardiac function and cardiac adaptation in non-cardiac fetal anomalies.

With a strong focus in clinical decision-making, our masterclasses and face-to-face onsite week in Barcelona are designed to complement specific skills in performance of high-quality echocardiography and evaluation of prognosis, with expertise in multidisciplinary interaction and parental counseling.

Thus, our interactive program provides ample opportunities to take part in open discussions via forum, sharing your own cases with experts in the field, and attending virtual masterclasses.

An onsite week in Barcelona will enable close interaction with our experts and practical sessions regarding new technologies. This unique academic program, endorsed by the University of Barcelona, addresses the rapidly growing demand for subspecialists with an in-depth knowledge on Fetal Cardiology.

Target audience

Fetal Medicine specialists and ultrasound professionals with experience in fetal echocardiography, who wish to improve their understanding and clinical skills by performing advanced Fetal Cardiology training.

Objectives

To enable participants to perform expert diagnosis and counseling of prenatal heart anomalies by in-depth knowledge of fetal cardiac physiology.

Specific objectives

  • To achieve optimal prenatal acquisition of images for evaluation of fetal cardiac physiology.
  • To efficiently incorporate into fetal echocardiographic evaluation all related techniques, including 2D grayscale, M-mode, color and spectral Doppler, 4D-STIC, tissue Doppler, strain, and magnetic resonance imaging.
  • To enable participants to perform expert diagnosis and counseling of congenital prenatal heart anomalies.
  • To enable participants to properly assess fetal cardiac function in a clinical context.
  • To enable participants to perform expert diagnosis, treatment, and counseling of fetal arrhythmias.
  • To recognize indications, limitations, and benefits of in utero cardiac therapy, in a clinical context.
  • To predict how the fetal heart adapts to an insult, and consequently predict fetal cardiac remodeling, dysfunction, and failure.
  • To emphatically cope with the emotional needs of parents facing during pregnancy diagnosis of a fetal congenital heart anomaly.

Course duration

From April 26th, 2022 to April 30th, 2023

Organization:

Fetal I + D Education Barcelona

Directors and scientific committee

Olga Gómez

Fàtima Crispi

Josep Mª Martínez

Fetal I+D Academic Direction and Supervision

Francesc Figueras

Eduard Gratacós

Venue

The onsite part of the course will take place in Barcelona.

Registration fees and payment

Price: 11.800,00 €

Once the application is accepted, a payment of 2.800,00 € must be made maximum 10 days after receiving confirmation the place has been reserved. This amount will not be refunded in case of cancellation.

During the following three months after paying the registration fee, monthly payments of 3.000,00 € must be made.

After January, 2022, these payments will be non-refundable, except for major causes that must be justified with the corresponding documentation.

More information

Teaching structure

The Postgraduate Degree in Fetal Cardiology comprises 9 theoretical-practical modules, including the basics on prenatal cardiac imaging, advanced knowledge on CHD and arrhythmias, and understanding of fetal cardiac function and therapy.

It offers advanced training through an online interactive platform, combining theoretical and practice sessions based on clinical cases, together with interactive masterclasses with recognized experts of Fetal Cardiology.

Additionally, online practice training, one week onsite and a research project will help consolidate expertise acquired online.

Online theoretical modules and evaluation tests

Each online module includes theoretical lectures based on clinical cases, an interactive forum, and a live masterclass with an expert, that guarantees close interaction with teachers and resolution of questions. Each module will be complemented with preparation of a practical clinical case –including diagnosis, prognosis and parental counseling- and review of literature on that particular topic. Each module will be evaluated by an online test and by examination of selected images provided by the participants.

Masterclasses

Practical module: Advanced fetal echocardiography

The practice part of this postgraduate course is designed for students to acquire the necessary skills to perform an advanced fetal echocardiography, including a complete morphometric and functional evaluation of the fetal heart.

In order to achieve a high standard in acquisition of fetal cardiac ultrasound, more than 70 images and echocardiographic measurements have been carefully selected by the faculty.

Participants will receive a practice manual to guide them in acquisition of images and performance of measurements. In addition, during the onsite week at our center, students will have the opportunity to participate in two “hands-on” workshops with real patients, with close supervision by the postgraduate directors, enabling to learn tips and tricks, for optimal acquisition.

To complete the practice part, students will have to send the required images and measurements from three different real fetuses. These images will be evaluated and scored by the Academic Committee, and the students will receive personalized feedback that will allow them to improve their skills. This highly demanding practice module will allow participants to acquire sufficient skill to be able to perform an advanced fetal echocardiography in their daily clinical practice.

Resolution of clinical cases

This part of the course is designed for the student to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired in different modules. For this, in each module the student will need to solve clinical cases in different scenarios, including differential diagnoses, establishing a study protocol, and follow-up planning for each case, taking into consideration prognostic evaluation.

The high degree of expertise of the faculty team will guide participants through cases of different complexity. This novel and dynamic part of the course will allow to acquire the tools for performing an exhaustive and systematic evaluation of most congenital heart defects from a practical management point of view.

Interactive forum

The postgraduate course includes an online forum using a Moodle platform to enable interaction among attendees and faculty. The forum will be supervised by the scientific coordinator of the course, who will ensure that discussions are dynamic, and with ad hoc participation of the directors of each module, to clarify unresolved matters. It will be available to students at the beginning of each module, creating a space to share questions, and discuss specific topics.

Preparation of individual clinical cases

At the end of the postgraduate course, participants will be requested to submit 5 cases of congenital heart defects that they have diagnosed and managed in their respective workplaces.

Cases must be well documented and detailed. The diagnosis must be justified by showing specific key-points for the cardiac defect. In addition, complementary tests performed and a summary of antenatal counseling and recommendations regarding pregnancy, must be also described.

Onsite stay

The face-to-face period consists of one week in Barcelona. A visit to the Fetal Cardiology Unit of Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in BCNatal (Center for Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, Barcelona) will be included.

This week will be scheduled at the end of the postgraduate course, to expand and consolidate knowledge, improve skills on echocardiography, facilitate interaction with tutors, faculty members and colleagues, and improve understanding on novel or more advanced techniques.

During this period of time, participants will have the opportunity to meet the faculty, and their tutors. The onsite stay will include the following activities:

  • “Meet the professor”: sessions, that enable personal discussion on the most relevant aspects of each module, based on clinical cases, with faculty members.
  • Invited lectures from international experts on a specific topic of interest, including basis of fetal cardiac magnetic resonance, core aspects on biventricular assessment, electrocardiography, genetics in CHD, impact of CHD on neurodevelopment, fetal-neonatal transition, and fetal cardiac programming. This will enable interaction with postgraduate faculty members and also with invited professors from other universities, experts in a specific topic of interest.
  • Practical training: Dedicated sessions with volunteer patients, of hands-on fetal echocardiography, with reduced number of attendees, enabling to teach tips and tricks for both structural and functional echocardiography.
  • Workshops on 4D-STIC, strain quantification and 3D printed models of the heart to gain advanced knowledge for particular cases of CHD.
  • Specific meet with the tutor sessions in order to discuss any questions on specific topics, and for the defense of the research project, enabling discussion with colleagues and faculty members.

Research project

The postgraduate training includes completion of a research project that will be evaluated by the Academic Committee. The research project usually includes critical literature review on a specific topic, that can be complemented by original data from the student’s institution.

The research project is conducted personally by the student, under guidance and supervision of a tutor. The topic is chosen, and planning is carried out by means of online meetings with the tutor. The final research project defense will take place during the onsite week.

Pre-registration

The number of places for this course is limited. To apply, it is necessary to fill out the pre-registration form within the established period. This form will be available from December 1st,2021 to February 1st, 2022.

Pre-registration requirements:

  • * Be in possession of a medical doctor degree (M.D.)
  • * Fill in the form in the Pre-registration section, along with the required information, your Curriculum Vitae and a motivational letter.
  • * Receipt of your application will be confirmed within a maximum of one week from date of submission.

Warning: Note that incomplete applications will not be considered.

Scoring

CV (3/10): research and teaching experience, and professional achievements.

Motivational letter (2/10).

Country of origin (2/10): applications from countries with less than 3 other candidates will be awarded 2 extra points, for distributive purposes.

Publications in indexed journals with impact factor and communications at national or international congresses (1/10).

Certification

  • A diploma that certifies completion of the "Postgraduate Degree in Fetal Cardiology" will be issued by Maternal Fetal Medicine Barcelona, with a grades’ certificate. To obtain the course certificate, it is essential to pass all theoretical and practice parts of each module.
  • After satisfactory completion of all examinations required, participants will be provided with a University Diploma. It is a university-specific postgraduate degree* awarded by the Continuing Education Institute-IL3 at the University of Barcelona. The name of the diploma awarded by the University will be: “Postgraduate Degree in Fetal Cardiology” and it has 32 ECTS credits.

Information about the university diploma

* What is a university-specific degree?

According to regulations of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), most European universities offer university-specific degrees. In Spain, according to article 2(g) of the Organic Law on Universities [Ley Orgánica 6/2001, de 21 de diciembre, de Universidades], the government allows Spanish universities to independently issue university-specific diplomas and degrees. This enables the University to add to the official training it offers, these so-called university-specific degree.

University-specific degrees are specialized courses with various names (master's degree, postgraduate degree, etc.). They are designed to flexibly meet the needs that arise in the job market and society, so they are aimed at achieving objectives such as:

  1. Providing specialized training with an immediate impact in the professional world.
  2. Updating professional knowledge in order to encourage skill-building for professional practice.
  3. Making a connection between academic work and social reality (this objective is supported by the frequent organization of qualifications that are taught, through an agreement with public institutions and private companies).

Therefore, the Postgraduate Degree in Fetal Cardiology is an official University-specific degree, issued by the University of Barcelona through its institute for continuous education (IL3). This degree certifies that the participant has received specialized training in fetal cardiology.

What is the difference between university-specific degrees and official degrees from universities?

The main difference between the two is that official degrees require a series of procedures and assessments by different public bodies such as the National Agency for the Assessment of Quality and Accreditation (ANECA), which are necessary in order to grant a PhD, while University-specific degrees do not need to be validated by institutions such as ANECA.

What validity does a university-specific degree have outside of Spain?

A university-specific degree has the same validity inside or outside of Spain, since it is a curricular degree for unregulated studies, approved by university boards under the Organic Law on Universities, which credits the student's continuing education.

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) qualifies a program as a Postgraduate Degree when the required workload to achieve the learning objectives is >30 ECTS.

The ECTS credits are used and accepted effectively by all European universities, and also by many other institutions around the world.

What is not a university-specific degree?

  1. It is not a preliminary stage to access a PhD program. Under special circumstances this degree could be used for these purposes, according to each country’s legislation, but this is not its primary purpose. This degree requires completion of a research project, with the main aim of acquiring competences in interpretation of research literature. In some individual cases, this work may be original research, and even trigger a publication or continuation of a research career after the course is completed. However, this is not the main aim of the Postgraduate Degree in Fetal Cardiology, and therefore it should not be considered as formal training in research.
  2. This degree does not enable professional clinical practice irrespective of local regulations for each country. For this reason, only specialists in Fetal Medicine and Ultrasound professionals can be accepted as alumni. In some specific countries, this type of activity could be used later to credit or obtain an additional national degree in the field of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, but this will always depend on local regulations, and it is not an automatic feature of this degree whatsoever.

Things to take into account before pre-registration

In order to validate a degree certificate awarded by a university or center of higher education abroad, it is necessary to carry out specific procedures to verify the existence of the institution that issued the degree, and studies that have been completed, with legalization or apostille of foreign documents.

Information on legalization or apostille procedures should be obtained from the university at which previous studies were completed, consular services from the country of issue, or the competent authority in each case. For more information, also access the webpage of the University of Barcelona:

University of Barcelona Website