Upcoming Free Online Course from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Dear Friends,
It is our great pleasure to invite you to join us for Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster, the third offering of our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) created by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and HarvardX. This self-paced course launches on Tuesday, May 15th and aims to prepare global learners to recognize and analyze emerging challenges in the humanitarian field.
From the Syrian refugee crisis to natural disasters throughout the world such as recent hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes, humanitarian emergencies have reached unprecedented dimensions and proportions. As the need for humanitarian aid evolves, we must explore how our efforts to alleviate human suffering should evolve as well.
Accordingly, the demand for high quality education and training in our sector increases with each day. The third year of our partnership with HarvardX gives us the opportunity to instantaneously reach a global audience and engage them in our sector’s most important discussions.
Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster explores the ethical and professional principles that guide our work and the realities we face in the field. The course is based on extensive practitioner experiences that both inform and stimulate discussions concerning humanitarian best practice. Thoughtfully engaging with this material will create better, more professional humanitarian practitioners, scholars, policy-makers, and global citizens. It also serves as an excellent point of entry for newcomers to humanitarian response, as well as a platform for experienced professionals to explore some of the most difficult dilemmas we currently face.

We hope you will click here to register for the course.

We also invite you to share the trailer with your colleagues and friends via email or social media, and we look forward to seeing you on May 15th!
Thank you,

Posts about Rwanda on Marriage-Motherhood-Medicine Blog

Due to the NOTSS course, the academic day for anesthesia residents was moved from Monday to Tuesday morning. We spent another fantastic morning with the residents teaching each other and engaging in passionate discussions over the best way to do difficult cases. After the half day was finished, Margaret and I were picked up for our drive to Butare.

Butare (now named Huye) is in the Southern province and it takes about 2.5 hours to get there. It was the original intellectual seat of Rwanda – the university was founded there and the other main University Teaching Hospital (CHUB) is located there. While in Butare we stayed with the wonderful family of one of the anesthesiologists (who happened to be in Halifax of all places, so I did not get to meet him). It was lovely to stay in a home with children and puppies and gardens and a wonderful host. It was a short trip to Butare due to the NOTSS course and the Good Friday holiday. But it was very worthwhile.

Read more about Sally’s time in Rwanda on the Marriage-Motherhood-Medicine blog.

Congratulations to Dr. Gaston Nyirigara

We would like to congratulate Dr. Gaston Nyirigara a Rwanda colleague with the 2018 IASP (international Association for the Study of Pain) award of excellence in pain research and management in developing countries. Dr. Nyirigara has always been close with CASIEF and Queen’s pain research and management program. Once again congratulations.

I would like to summarize and describe key features for why Gaston received this award. “Intensely involved in clinical pain management in Rwanda, as well as a devoted teacher across the country. Committed to developing a network of pain management services across the country. Received one scholarship for training in Canada. Strong clinical care, patient advocacy and mentoring/education during clinical shifts. Very strong letter of support (mentioned by 2 reviewers). Established and leads Acute Pain Management Team, and this pain care program is the first of its kind in Rwanda. Hard-working and with a clear mission. Obtained support/funding to establish a Quality Improvement Strategy for pain care suggesting a plan to monitor the quality of care provided.”

Dr. Nyirigara also gave a Grand Rounds presentation for the Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine at Dalhousie University, March 21, 2018. That talk is available below.

CASIEF 2018 Fundraising Gala Dinner

2018 CASIEF Gala Dinner

Sunday, June 17, 2018.
Auberge Saint-Gabriel, 426 Rue Saint-Gabriel, Montreal
Reception 18:30, Dinner & Speaker 19:00 – 22:00

Tickets are now available online. View our dinner venue in English / French. View the Gala Brochure for more information.

Dr. Dan Poenaru – Guest Speaker

Dr. Poenaru is a Canadian pediatric surgeon who has dedicated his life to treating needy children throughout eastern Africa. Motivated “by the enormous needs of African children,” not only those of Kenya, but also the numerous Somali refugees entering the country, Dr Poenaru opened a surgical practice in Kijabe, Kenya. Throughout his career, he has treated patients through civil war and in refugee camps, exposing himself to tremendous personal risk. Dr Poenaru is the recipient of the 2014 Teasdale-Corti Humanitarian Award of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the 2015 ACS/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarianism Award of the American College of Surgeons.

To learn more about our speaker:

Adam on VAST (from the Sim Centre Opening blog)

It’s alive…It’s alive!

Victor Frankenstein recounts how he “infused a spark of being into the lifeless thing at his feet”. The idea for the VAST Course sprouted in July 2017 and for months, it existed only on my hard drive. Without the enthusiasm and support of the team around me, there is no doubt that VAST would still be a lifeless entity. With the financial support of CASIEF and Dalhousie University, we were able to commit to piloting the course in Rwanda in January. In late December, the series of subfolders and files materialised into a set of tangible printed materials, resources and VAST paraphernalia. The great unknown was how all of this would transform into a 3-day simulation course.

We were off to an auspicious start. The first thing our eyes were drawn to at the Rwanda Military Hospital (RMH) Simulation Centre was an expansive banner heralding the piloting of the VAST Course. The months of meticulous preparation, testing, refinement and co-ordination were over and it was time to launch the first of three pilot courses. Throughout VAST, we focus a lot of attention on anaesthetists’ non-technical skills. Our team had to draw heavily on these same set of skills to effectively launch this project.

Team working
In the months leading up to the VAST Course, Patty had on several occasions referred to us (Michelle, Christian, Patty and I) as the ‘dream team’. My initial concern was to wonder I if had to settle for the role of the “Hick from French Lick” aka Larry Bird. Come game time, despite having never worked before together in this capacity, we functioned like a well-oiled machine. The first pilot course was underway and we were running two parallel groups through the various components of the course. Michelle behind the scenes, setting up rooms, Patty and Christian riffing off each other in debriefing sessions and I taking the helm of facilitating and debriefing the other group. It wasn’t long however before the line-up of the dream team was to get some fresh faces.

Stewart was certainly a prized recruit to the team. After a quick ‘pre-season’, namely the VAST Facilitator Course, Stew held a firm place in the starting five. In fact, by pilot week three, he was the front runner for MVP, having to step his responsibilities when other key players were out due to illness and a late season trade to the Butare Black Mambas. Rotating strongly off the bench we also had an injection of talent from our trainee facilitators. With some on-going coaching from the side-lines, these ‘trainee’ members of the team were soon more than pulling their weight, running and debriefing sessions following the VAST playbook. More on the surprise recruit, Laurence, later.

No team can function without an extensive support network. Daily buffets at both RMH and CHUK hospitals kept our energy levels high. The team transport was dutifully and punctually conducted by Alphonse. Christophe at the CASIEF apartment was working overtime ensuring our team uniforms (scrubs) were cleaned and pressed ready for game time each day. In all of this, like in any well-functioning team, there was a real sense of camaraderie and common understanding that developed amongst the team members.

Task management
There is a lot of focus in VAST on managing complex tasks, particularly on how to assess and organise available resources. Day 1 of the first week of the VAST Course is now a bit of a blur. The unknown of the mechanics of the running the course were playing out in front of us. Fortunately, we had the invaluable resource of Michelle to draw on. With Michelle at the helm co-ordinating set up and changeover between scenarios, the rest of us were able to focus on the other tasks of session delivery and mentorship of the trainee facilitators.

Decision making
Many of the decisions regarding course logistics and design had been set in stone months in advance. There was opportunity however for some on the fly experimentation with order of sessions, timings of breaks and finer details of how some sessions were to be conducted. This helped to maximise our short period of time with participants and to promote a favourable learning environment.

One key decision that was suggested to us early on by Dr Paulin was the inclusion of Laurence, the sim centre co-ordinator from CHUK hospital. Laurence joined Michelle from the beginning of the first week of pilot courses, shadowing her every move and learning from the best. By the start of the second week of courses, Laurence was setting up stations and preparing the rooms for subsequent scenarios. Come week 3, Michelle was back in Canada and Laurence stepped up to the plate to independently run the ‘back of house’. An unexpected highlight was to watch Laurence spring to action on academic following the completion of the VAST Course pilots. Patty had tasked the residents with designing their own simulation scenario and within moments Laurence had the equipment set up in the same systematic manner in which we organise the gear for the VAST Course. This is just one example of what we have now seen as some of the ripple effect of the VAST Course…positive implications that are extend beyond our initial set of objectives.

Situational awareness
Language posed one of the key challenges to conducting these pilot courses. Whilst English is the official language in Rwanda, there is a transition from French and ubiquitous use of Kinyarwanda. Our participant group was also not uniform in their level of English. Being aware of this dilemma was of crucial importance. As much as possible, we encouraged Christian to deliver his sessions in French/Kinyarwanda. For the rest of us, it was important to take the time to meter our pace of speech, allow for translation and explanation amongst the group. It will be important that once the course materials are finalised post pilot, that we make the effort to translate resources and as much as is feasible, deliver of the program in a more ‘comfortable’ language.

It is still a little hard to come to terms with what has been achieved over months leading up to the piloting the VAST Course and subsequent course delivery. Certainly, there have been lots of lessons learned. Components of the course can be tweaked, elements that we should dedicate more attention to and some less effective components that can be pared back. In essence however, we are chalking down the previous few weeks as a great success. There is an encouraging amount of local support and endorsement of the project moving forward from both official channels and from participant feedback. The next exciting steps will involve refinement of the course and conducting formal evaluation of future courses delivered. I wholeheartedly thank everyone that has been involved to date with this project and I certainly look forward to the future of VAST in Rwanda and beyond.

There are also a number of photos in the original post at https://simcentreopening.blogspot.ca/2018/01/adam-on-vast-worth-wait.html.