Guyana’s Dr. Alan Tinnie is going home. Dr. Tinnie is a general surgeon who, after graduating from the University of Guyana, came to Canada to further gain skills as a “fellow.” A fellow is a physician specialist, such as a surgeon, who does additional training within their specialty. This was the first fellowship opportunity offered by the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) to a surgeon. In this case, the fellowship was offered in the surgical specialty of endoscopy. Endoscopy is a procedure where the upper and lower bowels are examined using flexible cameras.
As a result of this milestone collaboration between the Thunder Bay Regional Heath Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and NOSM, Dr. Tinnie has completed his fellowship training in Endoscopy at TBRHSC, and will be going home to Guyana to train others. Under the supervising preceptorship of Dr. William Harris, Dr. Allan Tinnie was brought to Canada for three months as the first fellow of NOSM’s Surgical Program. Dr. Tinnie says, “This has been an extremely rewarding exchange, both personally and professionally. It has been an opportunity to make a fundamental difference.”
Many countries are facing dire health-care challenges. Guyana is such a nation. Situated in the northeast corner of South America, Guyana is a complex nation with immense medical care needs. In addition, there is a very serious lack of opportunity for medical graduates in Guyana to further specialty training in their own country.
Canada assisted Guyana in 2005. The Canadian Association of General Surgeons, in collaboration with the University of Guyana, began the process of providing postgraduate surgical training to Guyanese doctors. With the mentorship of visiting Canadian surgeons, Guyanese surgical trainees undertook a two-year course of intensive surgical training. Following the course, the graduates of the program then provided two years of service at regional hospitals, where their services were desperately needed. While this program provided a strong grounding in basic surgical skills, it was identified that more advanced skills could not be taught. Endoscopy, in particular, was identified as a priority requirement. While the basic tools of endoscopy were available in Guyana, a new endoscopic champion was required to further the program, and provide the benefits of this safe, minimally invasive technology to patients of Guyana. A focused fellowship training program in Canada was created to solve this problem, ensuring the training of surgeons to practice advanced endoscopy competently. This new collaboration between NOSM and TBRHSC assists with this goal.
Not only has Dr. Tinnie now acquired the skills to be a very talented and competent endoscopist, the nurses and physicians who have mentored him have come to know him as a friend and colleague. Innovation in teaching and learning has been a rewarding experience, and will now improve the quality of care received by the Guyanese patients. Dr. Gordon Porter, VP, Medical and Academic Affairs says, “This is a very exciting time for both Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine as we expand opportunities in surgical training beyond the core surgical residency program requirements, with the first surgical fellowship. We applaud the contribution of many partners, in Canada and abroad, for their efforts to improve global health care. This initiative will provide the people of Guyana with advanced care and access to minimally invasive procedures such as endoscopic surgery.”
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