NOTE: This WFHSS web archive site is not maintained anymore. Please visit for current WFHSS affairs.

WFHSS - World Forum for Hospital Sterile Supply

WFHSS - World Forum for Hospital Sterile Supply


WFHSS - World Forum for Hospital Sterile Supply / Communications / Member Society Reports / Organisation of the sterilization courses: the Flemish experience

Organisation of the sterilization courses: the Flemish experience

Currently in lots of jobs more and more attention is paid to the qualifications, the training and the in-service training of the members of staff. This is also the case in the central sterilization department.

The fast evolution in medicine and especially in surgery means that qualified members of staff are needed to adequately process the medical devices.

In a lot of countries the conviction that well qualified members of staff are needed has long been accepted. They have well functioning educational centres providing training to the members of staff who are involved in the reprocessing of medical devices. Other countries have already undertaken timid attempts to set up adequate training courses. Some have to start from scratch. Besides the practical organisation the drawing up of a specific training programme is often an almost insurmountable hurdle.

For this reason the EFHSS has set up a working group which aims to set up a European training programme for sterilization employees. The first part (level 1), which has technicians as its focus group, is ready. It is mainly based on what was previously set up by the ESH. You can consult this part on our website (, Communications). In the meantime the two other levels - level 2 and level 3 - have also come under close scrutiny. Shortly, they will be posted on our website.

The drafting of such a programme is only a small part of the work that needs to be carried out and is perhaps not even the most difficult aspect of it.

A large number of practical matters have to be taken care of. The search for experienced lecturers, who moreover are available at the right time, is very often a bigger bottleneck. A suitable setting has to be found and an agenda drawn up. As soon as this is finished, a mountain of red tape is waiting: promotional activities, enrolments, the collecting and disseminating of the course material etc. In short: a not to be underestimated load of work is awaiting the organisers which is difficult to combine with a full time job in a hospital. Fortunately, there are more than adequate alternatives. Let me summarily describe how the problem was tackled and solved in Flanders.

For more than 10 years the Flemish Society "Sterilization in the Hospital" (VSZ) has organized training sessions for technicians (level 1) and senior members of staff (level 2). We have organized these courses in Flanders (6 million inhabitants) in collaboration with two institutes for higher education that provide training for nurses. In each institute annually 1 training session at level 1 is set up and in every alternating year 1 training course for senior members of staff (level 2). The institute itself is responsible for the logistical support - classrooms, promotional activities etc. - and provides the teachers of the general courses such as microbiology, hospital hygiene, management etc. - The sterilization society provides teachers for the specific sterilization linked topics such indicators, packaging materials and methods, norms etc.

One of the most important concerns was the good accessibility of these locations. For this reason we decided to collaborate with the KATHO in Roeselare and with the PHL in Limburg. The former covers the western part of Flanders and the latter the eastern part. Both sites can easily be reached both by public transport and by car. In this way no participant will have to make a trip of more than 100 km in order to take part in the course.

The main advantage for the VSZ is that all administrative and regulatory worries are outsourced: they are handed over to the institutes of higher education. The result is that our role is limited to providing good teachers for the specific sterilization courses. This in itself is already a challenge because in a small region like Flanders sterilization experts are not easy to find.

Organizing training courses in this way is definitely a workable option in a lot of other countries as it offers the possibility to the sterilization departments to get the best results with a minimal effort. It is a win-win situation as our educational partner also gains from being able to provide new training courses, which is beneficial to its image in the region. The VSZ is able to offer the members of staff of the CSA a training course of a high standard. This is definitely an example you should consider following.

Walter Accoe