Sunnybrook's training fellowships attract some of the world's brightest young medical talent, creating a global reservoir of state-of-the-art knowledge
Adventure. Experience. Change. Love.
It may be the opportunity to learn from our experts that draws fellows to Sunnybrook from around the world, but there are plenty of fringe benefits once they get here.
And whatever leads them here, there are things that unite them when they leave: high-tech training from health-care's brightest minds, a love of learning, and a worldwide network of physicians filled with Sunnybrook spirit.
"Education is a global force in improving health care and we are proud of our ability to work with University of Toronto to offer medical training fellowships to doctors from around the world," says Dr. Joshua Tepper, Sunnybrook's vice-president of education.
"These doctors could choose to train anywhere, but they come to Sunnybrook because we can teach them life-saving techniques they often can't learn anywhere else. In turn, our patients, staff and students gain from having these exceptional physicians providing care and teaching during their stay."
Indeed, they leave as much here as they take home with them; they fill our floors with passion, expertise and different ways of looking at problems.
Dr. Barto Nascimento: Lifelong learner
Dr. Barto Nascimento traded in his surfboard for a snowboard when he came to Sunnybrook. Nearly a decade later, he's embarking on a new journey in Toronto and sharing the knowledge he's gained with students here and in Brazil.
A surgeon in the Brazilian beach-town of Recife, Dr. Nascimento had read about Sunnybrook's trauma centre in many journal articles, and he knew the research done at Sunnybrook was well respected. Then in 2006, he learned about the innovative bleeding research being conducted here by Dr. Sandro Rizoli. He met Dr. Rizoli and was offered a volunteer position to work with him in Toronto.
"It was challenging – there was a huge adjustment," he recalls. "The winter was hard and the language was difficult. I had studied English my whole life. But still, the language is structured differently and the acronyms are all backwards. It was very fast-paced, and I had to learn all the terminology."
And the health-care system was different than at home. "At Sunnybrook, it's very patient- and family-focused," Dr. Nascimento says. "All care decisions involve a large team – the patient, the family, the nursing staff. There's more collaboration and shared decision making."
It was a busy time: he worked with the critical care, transfusion medicine, and rapid response teams as well as trauma. He took on-call shifts. He enrolled himself in a masters of clinical epidemiology at University of Toronto. Along with the trauma and transfusion medicine research groups, Dr. Nascimento has designed a world-first study looking at blood transfusions. He's hopeful it will be published soon.
Dr. Nascimento shares his critical thinking skills with students and other physicians at Sunnybrook and beyond.
"I realized that much of the research published daily in the medical literature is far from optimal," he said. "New researchers and physicians, as well as more established ones, often lack the expertise to critically appraise other people's research. You shouldn't just trust the research and change your practice each time you read something."
So together with Dr. Rizoli, he started the "Evidence-based Telemedicine Journal Club," which meets bi-monthly via video link to discuss journal articles and teach critical appraisal of the medical literature. Several universities in Brazil participate and he's looking to expand the club to the United States, United Kingdom and Portugal this year.
For Dr. Nascimento, learning is ongoing. He recently started a new role at Sunnybrook as trauma team leader and hospitalist. Believed to be a role unique to the Trauma Program at Sunnybrook, the trauma hospitalist manages inpatients on the trauma units.
"For example, a trauma patient may first be seen by an orthopedic surgeon. But when the surgery is all done, that patient still requires care and consistency," he explains. "The hospitalist assists in the management of these patients."
Sunnybrook strives for excellence in education, patient-centred care and safety, Dr. Nascimento says. There's an opportunity to collaborate with others on many projects and conduct cutting-edge research.
"I can see my progression when I look back through these fellowships," he says. "I learned the research skills and the clinical skills."
Arriving in a new place as a fellow can be challenging, he says, because most are already established professionals in their home city.
"But there's always something new you can learn," he says. "Always."
Dr. Patrick Roberts: Jamaica's first and only surgical oncologist
Jamaica's Dr. Patrick Roberts admits he didn't choose to come to Toronto the first time – but he did choose to come back after that first trip.
Dr Patrick Roberts (right) takes his new surgery
skills back home to heal Jamaicans
Dr. Roberts was offered an opportunity to travel to Toronto for a six-month elective in 2008.
"Being a free-spirited child, I accepted," Dr. Roberts laughs. "I don't know why: I had no relatives there, I didn't know anyone. I had just my credit card in my pocket. But I filled in the paperwork and I was on my way."
He says – perhaps too modestly – his placement at a downtown Toronto hospital wasn't easy at first.
"I didn't know even where the hospital was. I was thrown in and I had to swim," he says. "This wasn't a walk-on-the-water, got-here-and-started-to-take-charge kind of story. It was so different: the health-care system is different. There were electronic patient records. The hospital was doing numerous transplants and procedures I hadn't even seen before."
By the end of his six-month stay, Dr. Roberts received the University of Toronto's Paddy Lewis Teaching Award for excellence in teaching by a senior resident, and the Sopman Humanitarian Award for patient care.
He learned a lot on that first trip to Toronto, developed a keen interest in liver surgery – and fell in love with Jamaican-born Canadian nurse Morissa McCreavy. He returned for a two-year Sunnybrook fellowship in 2009.
This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's advertising department, in consultation with Sunnybrook. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.