College of Nursing Receives International Award for Distributed Learning Innovation

The College of Nursing was recognized internationally for its distributed learning program as the only Canadian recipient of the InTouch Health Outstanding Acute Care Telemedicine Achievement Award at the recent Remote Presence Clinical Innovations Forum in Santa Barbara, California. The award was in recognition of the college’s oral health program in northern Saskatchewan, which provides oral health screenings and care to northern children.

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(l to r) Robin Thurmeier, Dr. Carol Bullin, Mark Tomtene, Dr. Lorna Butler, Dr. Jill Bally and Dr. Heather Exner-Pirot. Missing: Dr. Shelley Spurr and Dr. Alyssa Hayes (College of Dentistry)

"In the North, many Aboriginal children have limited access to preventative oral care, develop early childhood dental issues and as a result, often require dental surgery," said Dr. Lorna Butler, Dean of the College of Nursing. "The Federal Government recently invested a million dollars to fly over hundred Inuit children under the age of seven to urban centres in Manitoba for dental surgery. We believe people living in northern communities should have access to oral health care, the same way individuals living in urban centres do, so the college developed a way to bring dental care to the north."

The College of Nursing has experience using robotics to deliver our undergraduate program to students in the north; the oral health program builds on this using more portable equipment called the RP-Xpress. Faculty from the Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry instruct northern nursing students using the RP-Xpress USB powered oral health camera equipped with a light to perform oral health screenings for children in northern schools as part of their pediatric practicum. Team members present at the forum to receive the award included project lead Dr. Jill Bally, Dr. Lorna Butler, Dr. Carol Bullin and Mark Tomtene.

InTouch Health, an American-based company, created the Outstanding Acute Care Telemedicine Achievement Award to recognize the top hospitals and clinical innovators in healthcare. The College of Nursing received one of three awards; the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina were the other winners.

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