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Oleg Safir - Skills Lab Update

The D.H. Gales U of T Surgical Skills Centre new director Oleg Safir plans to continue and extend the outstanding work of his predecessors and colleagues. New activities of the lab include the Competency Based Orthopaedic Curriculum for which Oleg serves as leader of two of the 21 modules. A typical example is the skills module that teaches casting, plating and sterile techniques before the residents enter the operating room. This was originally offered only to the initial 3 CBC residents; it has been expanded to all 12 entering orthopaedic residents in the surgical boot camp (1)(2).


All orthopaedic surgery CBC residents have to pass the final bootcamp exam to ensure they are skilled in basic surgical skills before they reach the operating room. He would eventually like all surgical residents to go through this program, though the logistics of this challenging project remain to be solved. He plans to work with all of the other skills centres in the city to bring them together as one program. In addition to the Mount Sinai Lab, there are skills labs at St. Michael’s in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Centre, Toronto Western Hospital, Sunnybrook, the Hospital for Sick Children and Women’s College Hospital.

Oleg’s thesis research was on self-directed learning compared with other modes of learning. He then applied this information to the boot camp, comparing boot camp candidates on the self-directed path with those on a directed path of learning (3).

Oleg received his MD degree in the Ukraine, completed surgical residency in Israel and served in the military there. He was a fellow with Allan Gross and David Backstein, before joining the staff at Mount Sinai. He enjoys working "with these world leaders in complex lower extremity reconstruction and revision arthroplasty operations."

Oleg’s wife Maria was an orthopedic surgeon in the Ukraine. She completed a family practice residency in London, Ontario while the family commuted by train to be together. They are now reunited and have two children Max and their youngest 4 months old Denis.


(1) Sonnadara R, Rittenhouse N, Khan A, Mihailidis A, Drozdzal G, Safir O, Leung SO. A novel multimodal platform for assessing surgical skills. Am J Surg. 2012 Jan; 203(1):32-6. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

(2) Sonnadara RR, Garbedian S, Safir O, Nousiainen M, Alman B, Ferguson P, Kraemer W, Reznick R. Orthopaedic Boot Camp II: examining the retention rates of an intensive skills course. Surgery. 2012 Jun; 151(6):803-7.

(3) Safir O, Dubrowski A, Hui Y, Backstein D, Carnahan D.-Social and Behavioral Sciences. Self-directed Practice Scheduling is Equivalent to Instructor Guided Practice when Learning a Complex Surgical Skill. Procedia: 2010: 2(2):792-6

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