High-tech partnership with leading US medical school

Published 30 March 2011

irvineUNE and the University of California Irvine (UC Irvine) School of Medicine today formalised an agreement to work together on initiatives that will transform medical and health education using technologies supported by the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The agreement will see UNE access UC Irvine’s advanced medical simulation technology and high-tech applications over the broadband network, boosting medical education for students in the Joint Medical Program (a collaboration between UNE and the University of Newcastle together with Hunter New England Area Health Service and Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service) and in nursing and allied health courses at UNE.

UC Irvine is a leading institution in education, research and clinical care in the United States. It advances medical knowledge and clinical practice through scholarly research, physician education and high-quality care. It educates more than 400 medical students and trains more than 600 residents and fellows at the UC Irvine Medical Center and affiliated institutions. The UC Irvine School of Medicine is the first in the United States to offer its entire first-year curriculum on the iPad tablet computer platform and train students with portable, hand-held ultrasound units.

Dr Gerald Maguire, the Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education at UC Irvine, is visiting UNE with three of his colleagues. “We will be working together to train today’s students to meet the medical needs of tomorrow,” Dr Maguire said. “In addition to formal student exchanges, we will use medical simulation technologies and applications, bedside ultrasound, and mobile devices to enhance medical education and achieve economies of scale.”

He said that the collaboration would enable some “unique educational advances” through the “pooling of resources” – including UNE’s expertise in distance education.

“This is an exciting collaboration for UNE with one of the world’s leading medical schools,” said Professor Jim Barber, Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England. “It allows us to tangibly demonstrate the use of the National Broadband Network to enhance student learning, and ultimately to deliver better health care in our regions. We have some very strong partnerships now with UC Irvine, the University of Newcastle, and Area Health Services that do great credit to our medical, nursing and allied education programs.”

“Things that we could not conceive of doing by distance education in the past are now within our grasp,” he added.

Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, said: “This exciting collaboration will show the practical benefits of using the NBN for medical and health education, including using the NBN’s capacity to transfer audio, video and large data sets simultaneously for medical simulation.  This partnership is another big step in innovating in the field of health, and in giving our health and medical students access to the world’s best.”

Dr Maguire and his three colleagues from UC Irvine presented a public seminar at UNE today as part of the current UNE-NBN Seminar Series. Dr Maguire gave an introduction to the UC Irvine School of Medicine; Dr Harry Haigler, Associate Dean of Medical Education, spoke about the use of digital technology  in the delivery of the School’s first-year medical program; Dr Shahram Lotfipour, Associate Dean for Clinical Science Education, introduced a live Internet link to the Medical School’s Simulation Centre, where the Director of the Centre, Dr Sharon Lin, demonstrated the use of sophisticated manikins for the interactive simulation of a patient undergoing medical procedures; Dr Chris Fox, Associate Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, spoke about the School’s innovative use of portable, bedside ultrasound equipment.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed above shows Dr Gerald Maguire (left) and Professor Jim Barber shaking hands after signing the agreement, with (behind them) UC Irvine’s Dr Harry Haigler (left) and Dr Shahram Lotfipour.