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Surgical Skills Lab Expansion

Helen MacRae, Richard Reznick and Lisa Satterthwaite, with SimMan (right to left)

In February 2007 the University of Toronto Surgical Skills Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital celebrated the official opening of its new expansion area. The event was well attended by members of the University, Faculty, and Industry Partners. Working in collaboration with the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation and the University of Toronto, full funding for the project was achieved. During the opening ceremonies, attainment of accreditation status for surgical skills labs from the American College of Surgeons was also celebrated. The lab received this most prestigious honour in December 2006.

The newly developed area has doubled the total square footage of the lab adding to it a forty-seat didactic area, virtual operating room, monitor room, practice room, research lab, kitchenette, disabled washroom and shower, and enhanced change room facilities. The area has been fully integrated with state of the art telecommunications and presentation technologies including connectivity to operating rooms for live and interactive surgical demonstrations from both internal and external sources. Double LCD projection, variable lighting and sound, independent climate control, sound proofing blocks, mounted wall cameras and a state of the art document camera bring us to an advanced level of presentation and demonstration capacity.

Since the opening of the skills lab in September 1998 there had been a steep and steady up hill climb in usage of the lab from a wide variety of groups in both the surgical and medical genres. Independent practice sessions for surgical residents had more than trebled and requests for external program bookings from both industry and allied health groups had more than doubled.

One impetus for the expansion came via the 3-year Medical Student Surgical Rotation Program. Two years ago, the surgical curriculum for the three academies was revamped to create a more cohesive learning opportunity. Within this curriculum a combined one week hands-on and Didactic Program was developed. In order to maintain fluidity in learning, a separate, but immediately nearby didactic area was required to complement the already successful hands-on technical skills component held in the original lab space. Currently, the lab plays host to 210 third year medical students for six one week sessions over the academic year.

Industry has also played a surprising role in the user group category which further energized the need for the expanded space. A great number of weekends throughout the year are filled with a wide variety of industry based programs. The increase in the complexity and attendance level of the events was becoming a strain on the ability of the lab to deliver quality programs. In fact, usage had plateaued to the point that the lab could no longer provide adequate space for the type and size of events that were being requested. The new expansion area and change room facilities are now better able to accommodate the growing needs of industry training programs. The success of these events are very important to the financial status of the lab as they help garner funding for the purchase of models, equipment, and up-to-date training simulators for utilization by the surgical and medical programs currently in place.

Of course, funding for this project would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors, namely The Royal Bank of Canada, Tyco Healthcare Canada, Zimmer Incorporated and the D.H. Gales Family Foundation. Funding from the groups was encouraged by the Surgical Skills Centre exhibition of strong leadership as demonstrated by Richard Reznick and Helen MacRae, a dedicated enthusiastic staff and most importantly the sense of pride established by faculty, residents and students in achieving a world recognized centre of excellence in both surgical education and research.

Lisa Satterthwaite, Manager, Surgical Skills Centre Mount Sinai Hospital

Please see related article on page 7 of the Winter 2005-06 edition of the Spotlight http://www.surg.med.utoronto.ca/newsletter/Winter06.pdf

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