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Chair's Column


James Rutka
James Rutka

Recent events in the field of medical simulation at the University of Toronto have prompted me to devote this issue’s column to a review of the Department of Surgery’s efforts in the “Simulation Summit” that was hosted by the Faculty of Medicine at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at Sick Kids Hospital on Wednesday February 26th, 2014. Dean Catharine Whiteside had tasked Dimtri Anastakis, Vice-Dean Continuing Professional Development, and me to bring together key stakeholders across several Departments to participate in a high level “think tank” on coordinating simulation efforts across the campus. You may recall that both the Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) and Postgraduate Medical Education (PGME) Programs were identified as requiring a concerted approach to enhancing simulation infrastructure and curriculum development following their most recent reviews by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS), Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Thankfully, in the Department of Surgery, we are quite well endowed with numerous simulation offerings at multiple institutions for medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty. In fact, in advance of the “Simulation Summit” meeting, we had held two prior meetings in the Department of Surgery in efforts to take stock of our holdings and curriculum development in simulation. Many of you are aware of the recent establishment of the Department of Surgery “Prep Camp” which delivers core surgical skills to all PGY1’s over an intense two week period at the beginning of July in the Surgical Skills Centre (SSC). This Prep Camp has proven to be a remarkable success, and is built on the premise that surgical simulation can be used to advance residents’ knowledge and performance of basic surgical skills.

At the Simulation Summit meeting, following the Dean’s welcome, presentations were given by Jackie James, VP Education at Mt Sinai; Oleg Safir, Director, SSC Mt Sinai; Walid Farhat, Urology, Sick Kids; Agnes Ryzynski, Simulation Centre Sunnybrook; Sal Spadafora, Vice Dean, PGME; Jay Rosenfield, Vice Dean UME; Trevor Young, Chair, Department of Psychiatry; and Paolo Campisi, Otolaryngology, Sick Kids. These presentations clearly demonstrated the strength and depth of simulation efforts in the Faculty of Medicine. The presentations were followed by group discussions on potential next steps to build a cohesive model of simulation curricula and opportunities for learners at the University of Toronto.

Some of the key discussion points included developing an appropriate governance structure for simulation efforts across the University; establishing a centralized “Office of Simulation” within the Faculty of Medicine; fostering research in simulation across all sites; defining a robust business plan centrally which would enable all sites to grow programs, educate learners at all levels, and recover costs for all offerings.

From here, it is clear that a Simulation Network Task Force will be formed. We will work with SIMOne provincially to create an inventory of all activities within the University of Toronto in the field of medical simulation. It will be the role of the Task Force in the near future to operationalize the opportunities to build a Network of Excellence for Simulation activities in the Faculty of Medicine. It is my strong hope and belief that the Department of Surgery will continue to play a major role in these efforts in the months and years to come.

James T Rutka,
RS McLaughlin Professor and Chair,
Department of Surgery, University of Toronto

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