Matching gift creates international centre for telesimulation and innovation in medical education

With a generous commitment from the Temerty Family Foundation and a matching gift from the Chang Family, UHN has created the world's first international telesimulation centre in medical education.

The telesimulation program was developed in 2007 by Dr. Allan Okrainec, Deputy Head, Division of General Surgery at UHN, in response to the need to expand laparoscopic surgery training opportunities for surgeons in developing countries. Telesimulation uses surgical simulators in the trainee's location connected through the internet to Dr. Okrainec's lab in Toronto.

"We are grateful to the Temerty Family Foundation and to Ray Chang and his family for their generosity and support of our goal to make a significant contribution towards improving global health," says Dr. Okrainec. "We are now positioned to expand our laparoscopic surgery telesimulation sessions and broaden our training programs to include other essential medical skills."

For patients, laparoscopic surgery is a desirable alternative to open surgery: it has a lower risk for infection and bleeding and recovery is much faster. Unfortunately, many surgeons in resource-poor countries cannot offer this treatment option because training in laparoscopic procedures is unavailable or limited locally. Telesimulation addresses this challenge by enabling surgeons to access one-on-one instruction and coaching from UHN using telecommunication technology. The program has to-date been successful in training over 100 surgeons in laparoscopic surgery in countries such as Botswana, Rwanda, Ghana, Colombia, Peru, Guyana, Jamaica and Ukraine.

The Temerty Family Foundation's $2.5 million gift, which was matched by the Chang Family, will enable the Centre to offer training sessions in more countries and develop training curriculum in high priority areas such as maternal and newborn health.