Emre Acaroglu's design narrative: designing a surgery course for use in Subsaharan Africa

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Emre Acaroglu
28 March 2017

Title designing a surgery course for use in Subsaharan Africa

Narrator

My name is Emre Acaroglu. I am a spine surgeon by training but also have been involved in surgical training through several academic societies and NGOs. This is my experience on planning and executing a course to be used in SubSaharan Africa (SSA).

Situation

Most organisation that I have been involved in have their own templates of these training courses that have been developed for use in relatively well served regiions of the world. They are aimed at surgeons who want to learn new techniques and/or increase their competencies on already established ones. In SSA however, any given country hosts only a few of these "surgeons" and for purposes of budgeting, these people are rather used as faculty than participants in the course.

Task

I wanted to;

  1. to create faculty members from surgeons who were not likely to have had any such experiences before.
  2. to plan a course that would attarct and address the needs of people who probably had no idea on the technical aspects of surgery but nevertheless wanted to increased their levels of knowledge and skills.

Actions

  • We started by adapting one of the faculty training courses to the situation. These courses were originally planned for 2 days but had to be compacted to half a day (due to, again, budgetary constraints). We named them mini (or even micro) T4f sessions.
  • I ran one of these courses for the first time @Windhoek, Namibia. At this course we not only discussed the basics of "how to give a lecture, how to run a practical, how to moderate a group discussion session" but also the estimated knowledge and skill levels of the participants so that all faculty members could titer their presentations accordingly.

Results

We had all faculty members participating in the T4F session and actually modifying their presentations according to the discussions we had. On the morning of the following day, we were met by 50 participants (for 25 slots and 8 pre-registrations) which appears to be the norm in these regions as people usually do not have the means to pre-register using the internet and/or make wire transfers to pay the fee. The majority of the participants were either medical officers or nurses.

That course was completed without any mishaps and received very high evaluation marks at the end. Most importantly, the surgeons who practice there attest to an improved quality in referrals, which is very important in these areas which have very short resources.

Reflections

This course have taught me::

  1. to be flexible in my design and expectations.
  2. the importance of using local educational resources in regions that I am not familiar with at all.
  3. the thirst for knowledge in those areas of the world. This and others over the following years were the most gratifying training experiences I've ever had.

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