2020 Report on Education
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Learner experience & culture

Dr. Eugenia Piliotis, Director, Peters-Boyd Academy; Elizabeth McLaney, Director, Interprofessional & Academic Education, and Sinthujah Santhirasiri, Manager, Postgraduate Medical Education & Educational Observers
Dr. Eugenia Piliotis, Director, Peters-Boyd Academy; Elizabeth McLaney, Director, Interprofessional & Academic Education, and Sinthujah Santhirasiri, Manager, Postgraduate Medical Education & Educational Observers

The goal for the Learner Experience & Culture priority is to optimize learner experience and engagement by exploring the student and teacher experience, advancing infrastructure and building partnerships.

This year, we developed and launched our first-ever teacher experience survey. We heard back from preceptors and supervisors in more than 25 different professions! We are still in the process of analyzing our results, but we now know that 96 per cent of our teachers supervise students for the joy of seeing them progress/ succeed, that their biggest challenge is time (not a surprise), and that the most desired support from our Education portfolio is a series of tip sheets for busy teachers on the go.

For students, we held three fantastic events reaching a total of over 400 students. Our “Spring into Wellness” event featured tips for students on areas such as physical and mental health using music therapy. Our Learner Appreciation Day brought together students and trainees from across professions to celebrate Education Week and recognize learners who made research and leadership contributions to our organization. And our ice cream event brought together our students and teachers to take a moment out of their busy day to appreciate one another.

As part of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Joy in the Work program, three members of our student experience committee took a deep dive into interviewing students and teachers to better understand how students can be welcomed as part of our Sunnybrook teams. Based on what they told us, we are in the process of testing out some cool ideas – everything from student tip sheets to special buttons to help make our students recognizable across professions.

To enhance preceptor – or faculty development – we have taken some bold steps! We have expanded our longstanding nursing preceptor workshop to become interprofessional. We have introduced a “Master Class” series for experienced teachers to stay up to date on “hot topics” in education. And we have partnered with the Centre for Faculty Development at the University of Toronto to integrate the content of their Teaching for Learning & Collaboration workshops with our inhouse Educator Development Program.

Working with our communications team, we revamped our web pages for students to create a fabulous, user-friendly format. We also launched our new student assistance process whereby students can report concerns if they arise.

We understand that life as a student, resident or fellow can be overwhelming. It can be easy to deprioritize personal health and wellness. To support our students, residents and, fellows we set up a confidential hotline with the help of the Sunnybrook Department of Psychiatry.

To improve the resident experience, we invested $3M in on-call room renovation. The scope of the project involved redesigning and renovating the existing 10 call rooms into 20 call rooms to improve safety, proximity to shower/ washroom and Emergency Department. The project was successfully completed in September 2019.

We also continue to stay connected with and contribute to our Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network (TAHSN) by participating as members on various key committees such as TAHSN Learner Engagement Working Group, and HUEC Streamlined Hospital Onboarding Working Group.

We have continued to enhance and refine our student registration system by establishing an automatic transfer of student information to our internal and external ancillaries. To ensure seamless onboarding on the students’ first day, information regarding their pager, parking and badge is sent to the service providers before the student arrives. We have also introduced online payments for student deposit making their face-to-face registration efficient. This is a pilot launched to selected professions.

Right now we are planning our second Student Experience Best Practices Sharing Forum. This year’s event will bring together the leads for each of our health professions to share their most effective practices for creating the best possible orientation and start at Sunnybrook for our students. We learn so much when we share across professions!

We are also in the process of writing up the results from our study entitled “Developing a Tool for Patients to Contribute to the Evaluation of Non-Medical Expert Skills of Health Professional Students in Training.”

Future initiative

Education Department Consolidation and Renovation Project will start construction in November 2019. The scope of the project is to centralize and enhance resources for all health professional students such as common student lounge, computer lab, seminar rooms, locker room, and a student registration centre. In addition to enhancing student space, the scope of the project will include a renovated simulation centre and library.

Emilie Dudman.
Emilie Dudman,
MSW Intern

“I am a Masters of Social Work student, completing my practicum here at Sunnybrook. My first rotation of the year has been with Monica Cassin in the trauma unit. As a student, you walk into a new experience with hundreds of questions about the processes, the type of work, the legislations, and the list goes on. It is common to feel fearful at a practicum where you may not know about the population you are serving and need the support of a supervisor to guide you in this new learning experience.

As one of those students who had hundreds of questions, didn’t know much about the trauma population, and hadn’t practiced in an urban hospital setting, my supervisor went above and beyond to ensure I felt informed and confident. Monica made me feel comfortable in the environment and learning process, and that I was capable of being an independent trauma social worker. At the beginning of my rotation we talked about the areas where I didn’t have the experience or knowledge and where there was room to grow. Monica gave me those opportunities, and I felt that my learning was of value to her.

It is important to me that I am pushed to excel and to do better. I feel like my instructor understood me and my goals, which made it easier to succeed when I was challenged. To have an instructor that believes in you, believes in your passion, and will do their part to help you reach your goals, that is a true instructor.”

“I am incredibly grateful to have had Monica as my instructor and for giving me this learning opportunity that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”


Trish MacAulay.
Trish MacAulay,
Music Therapist

“It is an honour to be part of one of Canada’s premier academic health sciences centre. Not only do I get to do clinical music therapy work with an incredible diverse group of clients in the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre, but I also get to contribute to the continuing education of future healthcare providers. A constant question I always ask my students is, “are you getting enough from this internship?” I like to challenge them every day in discovering new, innovative, interprofessional approaches to the music therapy field in a hospital setting. The icing on the cake is I also get to learn from every student; observing new approaches, styles and interventions that can expand my teaching and practice.”

“My philosophy is students and teachers learn from each other to create the most innovative approaches to healthcare.”


Sally Bean.
Sally Bean,
Director, Health Ethics Alliance & Policy

“Working at an academic health centre affords me the great privilege of interacting with learners at various stages of their career development. I welcome the opportunity to collaborate with students and take pride in providing an enriching learning experience that is both fun and supports their career objectives. Working with learners is an integral part of reflective practice in part because learners ask insightful questions and offer a fresh perspective on routine practices that I may take for granted.”

“I am grateful for the generosity of time and mentorship I received early in my career and teaching is a small way to pay it forward.”

Simulation in Learner Experience & Culture

  1. Sunnybrook’s corporate Take Our Kids to Work program

    Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre has partnered with Human Resources and the Injury Prevention Program to organize Take Our Kids to Work Day. This is an annual program at Sunnybrook for grade 9 students. This day is filled with real-life experiences, interactive interdepartmental education booths and presentations that help students make better, healthier and more responsible choices. This program helps students connect school, the world of work and their own futures while exploring careers in health care.

    Through simulation, students gain hands-on experience to explore situations, such as managing a sick patient with asthma, practising skills for minimally invasive surgery, improving CPR skills, or using ultrasound to assess the function of the heart.
  2. Fifth graders in the Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre: Sunnybrook Research Institute 407 ETR Summer Student Research Day

    Grade 5 students visited the Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre during their Sunnybrook visit as judges for Sunnybrook’s “Tell It to a 5th Grader Research Day”. The grade 5 students judged Sunnybrook’s summer student research projects.

    Students were excited to learn about how we educate Sunnybrook staff in the simulation centre. The Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre’s very own summer student, Miles Johnson, was awarded first prize for his summer research project entitled “Can 3D Video Games Help Detect Alzheimer’s Disease?”
  3. Transition to clerkship

    Every year, a new group of extremely eager and passionate second year medical students from the Peters-Boyd Academy at Sunnybrook transition to their third year of medical school and enter into clerkship. Students who have spent the last two years in a classroom mastering theory are now immersed in the clinical environment of a hospital. To prepare students for this transition, Peters-Boyd Academy hosts a Transition to Clerkship skills day. The Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre collaborates with Peters-Boyd Academy to develop and teach content for this educational event. This year, the simulation centre staff developed and taught a CPR station where the students received hands on, experiential practice to introduce them to the concept of managing a cardiac arrest patient. Through the generous loan of electronically-monitored task trainers from Sunnybrook’s Advanced Life Support program, students were taught and able to practice the competencies required for CPR and bag mask ventilation. Students were able to see in real-time the effects of their interventions and receive realtime feedback on areas that need to be improved. Repetitive practice and fun-filled skills competitions kept the students engaged and motivated to succeed!

  4. Plastic surgery procedural skills training

    Plastics residents and staff at Sunnybrook are now fortunate enough to be training on Canada’s very first breathing simulator. This simulator was developed by Agnes Ryzynski (Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre Manager), Drs. Laura Snell and Joan Lipa (Surgeons, Department of Plastic Surgery) to help surgeons master breast reconstruction surgery. This custom-developed microsurgery training chest simulator actually “breathes” and allows surgeons the opportunity to practice repeatedly the extremely delicate work of recreating a breast post-mastectomy using a procedure called the DIEP flap

    Innovations like these are making certain that Sunnybrook staff and learners have access to surgical skills training, so that when patients come to Sunnybrook, they are receiving the highest levels of care and safest surgical procedures.

  5. Internal medicine resident Code Blue simulation

    A few times a year, a new block of Internal Medicine (IM) residents arrive at Sunnybrook. An important part of their role is to be team leader for our Sunnybrook Code Blue team. This role entails leading and coordinating our code blue team during the management of cardiac arrests at Sunnybrook. To help prepare residents for this role, the Department of IM teamed up with the simulation centre and the Department of Critical Care to design and deliver simulation education for the IM residents. Residents get the opportunity for repeated simulated practice of various Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) scenarios in the simulation centre followed by expert-led facilitator debriefs.

Student experience survey July 2018 – June 2019

  1. What campus did you spend the most time at:
    1. Bayview – 81.62%
    2. St. John's Rehab – 9.79%
    3. Other – 5.67%
    4. Holland centre – 2.92%

  2. Favourable responses
    • I felt welcome and accepted as a part of the team – 88%
    • I would recommend a placement here to my fellow student – 90%
    • My placement at Sunnybrook met my educational and professional expectations – 91%
    • My preceptor(s)/supervisor(s) modeled professional values in their behaviour and interactions with patients, staff and students – 92%

  3. What was great and what could Sunnybrook do to improve the learning environment?
    • "There was lots of support when needed; everyone was very friendly and willing to help! I also really enjoyed the interprofessional learning opportunities."
    • "Sunnybrook Holland Centre provided an excellent learning environment. I felt comfortable asking questions to any member of the health-care team."
    • "The staff so obviously wanted to teach and engage us. Loved it!"
    • "I’m very grateful that the Sunnybrook team is supportive of allowing students to shadow other therapist, departments, and practice settings during this placement."
    • "Supportive, encouraging, willing to listen and adapt."
    • "My preceptor was always willing to teach and was very patient when it came to tasks I was learning."

  4. What did Sunnybrook do well in providing your education experience?
    • A lot of opportunity to work with a team and various educational opportunities.
    • Welcoming environment, supportive preceptors, a variety of patient cases to see and learn from.
    • I got to perform and learn all the basic skills I wanted to, plus additional skills I was not expecting.
    • Sunnybrook provided a great orientation. I enjoyed the shadowing opportunities.

Sunnybrook Library Services activities

  1. Holland Centre virtual library

    The Holland Centre Library was transitioned to a fully virtual experience that allows for easy card swipe access and the installation of security cameras.

    All print collection materials were transferred to the Bayview location and shelves removed to increase seating capacity. By doing this, we were able to replace printed materials with e-books and e-journals to support the Holland Bone and Joint program. The library research support is currently being provided virtually by staff from the Bayview site.
  2. Bayview Macdonald Library renovations

    The Bayview Macdonald Library has gone through some renovations recently. With the removal of shelving, there is an increase in seating capacity. We also purchased and installed new communal tables to provide ability to collaborate and provide group study areas.

  3. Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) Library

    Sunnybrook Library Services has been in partnership with Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) to collaborate and support their library and information requirements.

    This partnership aims to support MGH with necessary library services and improve efficiency for their library and organization. Additionally, this partnership aims to provide MGH with support in their transition to a virtual model of library services.
  4. Trauma Information Portal (TIP)

    In 2019, we developed an online Trauma Information Portal that provides a resource for curated materials regarding trauma, emergency, critical care and patient education resources. These are carefully reviewed by the Sunnybrook Library Services and are designed to save Sunnybrook staff and learners time by consolidating useful, relevant and trusted evidencebased resources into one easy-to-use online tool.

    There are links provided from several different access points, including SunnyCare and Sunnybrook Education’s pages on the intranet.

    Since its inception in January 2019, we’ve had more than 6,000 hits to the Portal and staff are able to access the site remotely and seamlessly 24-hours a day, seven days a week. This is available on any computer or mobile device connected to the Sunnybrook network.
  5. Connecting with users online

    Library Services is in constant connection with all users either through existing in-person services, or virtually through Skype, WebEx, recorded educational videos, and other online tools to easily assist Sunnybrook staff and learners.

    Each month, Library Services features an important health topic in our Monthly Health Awareness displays. These displays highlight curated and reliable health information resources for staff, learners, and the community. Library Services has adapted these Monthly Health Awareness displays to be accessible not only in-person, but also virtually, as an online guide for the Sunnybrook community.