RCSI collaborates with 3M to advance initiatives in global surgery

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RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences has partnered with science-based technology company 3M to provide support for two projects run by the RCSI Institute of Global Surgery.

3M Impact is an international programme that gives employees from the science-based technology company the opportunity to work overseas on a two-week volunteering project.

As part of the 3M Impact programme, six 3M employees from the US, Costa Rica, Mexico, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates supported the development of an e-learning strategy to improve and expand training programmes for young healthcare professionals in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lack of access to safe surgical care is a silent killer in this area, and many minor injuries and conditions, which are dealt with through routine treatment in high income countries, often end in severe and sometimes catastrophic outcomes. To address this, RCSI supports a network of postgraduate training Colleges in the East, Central and Southern Africa region to train surgeons, anaesthesiologists, obstetrician/gynaecologists and peri-operative nurses. The College of Anaesthesiologists of Ireland and the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland also contribute to this work, which is funded by Irish Aid.

Delivering a standardised training experience across such a vast and varied region is challenging, so e-learning has played a vital role, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 3M consultants developed a strategy and roadmap which will help RCSI and partners deliver a coordinated e-learning training programme for the 1,500 doctors and nurses currently enrolled in training programmes.

A second project was to develop a student engagement plan for the RCSI Institute of Global Surgery (IGS). The Institute works primarily with partners in sub-Saharan Africa to improve surgical services for many communities lacking access to essential surgical care.

Every year, RCSI students with a passion for global health and surgery volunteer to support its work through a range of short- or medium-term research assignments. Until now, IGS lacked a formal programme of student engagement, with no standardised approach to supporting and training the volunteers, or for communicating about their valuable work internally and externally.

The brief set for the project was to develop a plan for community engagement. communication and organisational strategies to benefit both the academic community at RCSI as well as current and future students. The work will also contribute to the university’s wider efforts to increase engagement with students, improve their learning experience and help to secure internal funding.

Commenting on the work of the 3M pro bono consultants, Eric O'Flynn, Programme Director (Education, Training and Advocacy) for the Institute of Global Surgery at RCSI, said: “The RCSI Institute of Global Surgery was delighted to be chosen to host two project teams through 3M’s Impact programme. Supporting the development of an e-learning strategy for four partner postgraduate medical training programmes in Africa will allow these colleges to better support trainees across the vast East, Central and Southern Africa region.

“The student engagement project will help us to strengthen the way we engage with students and early career researchers to enhance their learning experience and research skills, as well as to maximise their valuable support for the work of our Institute.

“RCSI is delighted to continue collaborating with 3M across education and research.”

June Ryan, Country Leader for 3M, which has its Ireland operations in Dublin and Athlone, Co. Westmeath, said: “3M Impact has been running since 2017 and we are delighted that the programme has come to Ireland this year to support organisations working on the ground to help disadvantaged communities and advance equality.

“RCSI was chosen as a recipient of the programme for the valuable role it plays supporting healthcare professionals around the globe and its pioneering research in the health sciences. In 2020, the 3M Foundation awarded RCSI a philanthropic grant of $480,000 to support Covid-19 research, so the 3M Impact project has strengthened our relationship and ongoing collaboration.

“As well as providing a tangible benefit for RCSI, the pro bono support provided by the 3M consultants has advanced their knowledge and expertise and helped meet their personal development goals.”

Joy, a 3M project manager based in the USA and one of the pro-bono consultants, said: “Working with RCSI was rewarding on so many levels. We felt honoured to contribute, even in a small way, to their goal of adequately training surgeons in areas of Africa where there is little to no access to surgical care. Our team worked together so well, each of us contributing to a plan and roadmap for success. We were amazed at what we were able to accomplish in a short time and hope our recommendations will provide guidance for the future growth of RCSI’s e-learning programme.

“Never having travelled internationally before, this opportunity with 3M Impact provided a refreshing new perspective. Many of my team members came from other countries and we shared our stories and backgrounds which gave all of us a new way of looking at global cultures. I will never forget the wonderful people I met in Dublin; the lovely culture and beauty of Ireland has won my heart.”