Movers and Shakers in Ultrasound - Associate Professor David Canty
Associate Professor David Canty MBBS, PhD, FANZCA, PGDipEcho is the Director of Ultrasound Simulation and a Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne. He also works as a Consultant Anaesthetist, working a mixture of cardiac and non-cardiac surgery, in both public and private healthcare.
Please describe your career in ultrasound
Ultrasound is my main passion, which I caught from Colin (Royse) back in 2004 as an anaesthesia trainee. I undertook a PhD degree in 2012 on focused cardiac ultrasound in non-cardiac anaesthesia. At the time, TTE in anaesthesia was almost unheard of. Colin and Alistair Royse helped me execute and publish 5 papers on the pioneering use of TTE in anaesthesia, and with the completion of my PhD. Since then, I've published about 50 papers and I now supervise 4 PhD students, most of whom are doing echocardiography-based projects, one of them in medical school. I have held an Academic position at the University of Melbourne, Mobile Learning Unit and Ultrasound Education Group since 2010.
My greatest achievement is probably using ultrasound simulators for practical courses in ultrasound and the development of the ultrasound simulator centre at UoM. 10 courses teaching a wide range of ultrasound skills, at over 15 sites. Last year we trained close to 1,000 students, making it one of the largest in the World. This is set to double as we move into the Medical School space.
What do you enjoy most about sharing your expertise?
I really enjoy seeing the enthusiasm with which people embrace it and ask questions. And the feedback; the good the bad and the ugly, as only bad or critical feedback can help you make the course better. The simulators make it most fun, everyone likes a sophisticated computer that gets you where you want to go. I also enjoy travelling to share the news and collaborate with other educators and researchers around Australia and overseas. The whole simulator training system depends on instructors and we are working on building a more structured strategy including more benefits for instructors.
Do you believe that it is important for healthcare professionals to learn about ultrasound? And why?
Ultrasound will end up being the most important thing to learn by healthcare professionals, on a par with basic sciences. It enables increased accuracy of diagnosis of many organ systems rapidly whenever you want it without exposure to ionising radiation. More powerful personal ultrasound (PersUS) devices linked to the cloud has ignited an explosion of ultrasound as it is now within reach of most clinicians who can have their images checked by supervisors at the bedside. This is also happening with ultrasound guided percutaneous invasive and semi-invasive procedures such as control of the airway, vascular access, nerve blocks, epidural and spinal, drainage of fluid from body cavities, and biopsy.
Will there be any new changes or additions to the Sim courses in 2020?
Yes, there are 3 new courses so far FCU TTE Certification course, 3D Echocardiography course and DVT course. The most exciting one is what many people have been asking and waiting for, and that’s a supervised and mentored course that helps you gain proficiency and experience in FCU scanning at least 30 patients at your hospital. The course is aimed at filling the gap of what to do after an initial FCU course or workshop, and it helps get people recognised for their competence and experience at their local hospital and is hence called the FCU TTE Certification course. Previously many people have taken 3-6 months off work to do a sabbatical attachment in an echo lab to achieve this, and travel to USA to sit the NBE exams. Now it can be done with high efficiency at your current workplace. Adapting the workshop to a self-directed series of videos is a key step forwards to expansion and penetration of medical school curricula.
What do you see as the future of ultrasound?
The future is now – soon every clinician and health care worker will carry a portable ultrasound probe, just like they do a phone, in fact the two will be joined together so the images can be shared with a supervisor who can give you advice and confirmation of the diagnosis or supervision of the percutaneous procedure.
When you are not teaching or working in the hospital, what do you do on your spare time?
Travelling takes up a large amount of time, usually associated with a conference, but when I’m not working at the hospital or in the university, I enjoy spending time with my wife, children and dogs, as well as working in the garden.
To view all of the courses and workshops in the Ultrasound Education Group, please visit