RCSI - Reflecting on our COVID-19 experience

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12 MARCH 2020 - 12 MARCH 2021

ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS IN IRELAND

RCSI - REFLECTING ON OUR COVID-19 EXPERIENCE


On 12 March 2020, the Irish Government announced the closure of all education settings as part of the national response to the emerging threat of a novel coronavirus. In the year that followed, the staff and students of RCSI united as a community, working tirelessly in the face of incredible challenges. We brought our students one year closer to graduation, advanced critical healthcare research, continued to train our surgical professionals, supported the national response to the pandemic and used our knowledge to inform the public discourse. We came together even though we were apart and put our students at the very heart of our response. The RCSI community came forward as volunteers, leveraging their healthcare expertise, to take on challenging roles on the frontline. And when our teammates and classmates struggled, felt anxious or mourned, we rallied to support each other. The pandemic has shown how strong and committed to its mission this institution is, because of its people. This reflection is dedicated to the staff, students and trainees of RCSI, March 2020-March 2021.

#RCSITOGETHER

1,426 NEW RCSI GRADUATES ON THE FRONTLINE


RCSI - REFLECTING ON OUR COVID-19 EXPERIENCE

SUPPORTING THE NATIONAL EFFORT > RCSI supported the HSE to deliver its national contact tracing training programme > 3,461 users registered on our Contact Management Programme resource > We developed a new system to provide up-to-date information on the availability of critical care beds in ICU > RCSI experts provided training on prone positioning and the use of ventilation equipment to frontline workers > RCSI researchers produced essential reagents and buffers in RCSI labs to support national testing > Our academics provided expert advice to government officials > Pharmacy students remained on frontline clinical placements throughout the COVID pandemic as keyworkers

NUMEROUS RCSI STUDENTS VOLUNTEERED THEIR SERVICES AS KEYWORKERS IN HOSPITALS

STRENGTHENING THE HEALTHCARE WORKFORCE > The 2020 final medicine exams were brought forward enabling 312 future doctors from 32 countries to join the frontline > Final year Physician Associates (PAs) completed their progamme, bringing the number of RCSI-trained PAs to 34 > In response to the Government's request, 1,378 overseas applicants completed the Aptitude Test to register as a general nurse in Ireland, a 53% capacity increase of applicants > 180 newly inducted medical interns were trained at our RCSI simulation centre > Our final year physio students completed exams early to take up critical healthcare roles > We led the first national online professional registration examination with APPEL, allowing the first cohort of students on our 5 year integrated MPharm across RCSI, TCD and UCC to graduate and enter the workforce > Our postgraduate faculties conducted examinations and provided CPD activities online, enabling candidates to progress in their specialty


CONTINUITY FOR OUR STAFF AND STUDENTS

PROVIDING AN ENGAGING EXPERIENCE FOR OUR STUDENTS

RCSI - REFLECTING ON OUR COVID-19 EXPERIENCE

We provided VOLUNTEERING and skill-building opportunities for 70 STUDENTS as COVID-19 CONTACT Tracers with the Health Service Executive, many volunteering over the Christmas holidays > Our Students’ Union launched a ‘Student Life HQ’ website to promote a range of online Clubs and Societies events

> RCSI's Winter Holiday programme in partnership with the Student Unions supported international students staying in Dublin over the festive break > Our staff and alumni funded 1,500 RCSI Christmas stockings for a festive night in including favourite alumni memories of things to do and see in Dublin at Christmastime > We provided Christmas Eve takeaway dinners, end of semester lunches and festive cakes baked by staff with handwritten greetings to students

> Our business continuity planning group and IT super users supported the transition to remote working

> We maintained in-person access to academic staff and fellow students to foster essential professional and communication skills

> We maximised students’ access to face-to-face teaching and clinical experience by redesigning our 2020 curriculum

> RCSI's Library services were maintained with new virtual services and physical spaces expanded for safe individual study spaces

WE REDESIGNED OUR CAMPUS TO ENSURE IN-PERSON EDUCATION IS PRIORITISED WITHIN THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF SAFETY

> We maintained frontline services to students including confidential one-to-one support and advice for students from our CoMPPAS Student Welfare team

> We rapidly accelerated our digitally engaged learning to allow hybrid delivery of an engaging educational programme > We launched a new TeleSim programme to simulate clinical training

> Postgraduate researchers and scholars progressed important studies, and professional postgraduate students continued studies off-site, despite the many constraints

> We invested in a new satellite campus at Croke Park to allow face-to-face teaching for 2nd and 3rd year medical students

> 60 final year research higher degree scholars adjusted their thesis in light of reduced laboratory access and carried out their viva-voce defense online, facilitated by external examiners in locations across the world

> We developed learning communities for students to allow small-group teaching

> We established BeRCSI and #ThankAColleague initiatives to support positive culture in the university

> We delivered greater levels of personal tutoring for students both in-person and online


> RCSI's Lifestyle Medicine taster course encouraged students to incorporate exercise, nutrition and mindfulness into their own lifestyles > Our student community volunteering provided Christmas hampers, cards and decorations for older people in the community and care home residents > Our students worked with REACH RCSI to form a virtual choir with members of the local community

PROTECTING OUR STUDENTS’ HEALTH RCSI'S SCREENING CENTRES CARRIED OUT 9,338 SWAB TESTS

> We provided precautionary ongoing COVID-19 screening tests for students > We established an on-site diagnostics laboratory to provide qPCR testing and rapid turnaround of test results > RCSI's rapid contact tracing system enabled us to quickly identify and control close contacts within the RCSI community > Our dedicated Student Health Management team managed health and academic needs of students impacted by COVID-19

> RCSI's Mercers Medical Centre managed the clinical care of students with suspected or positive COVID-19 > Our COVID Control Administration team managed COVID compliance and the academic needs of our students affected by COVID-19 > Our Student Health Clinic provided COVID testing for our students > Our Student Welfare team provided support calls for all students affected by a positive COVID-19 diagnosis > We developed health and safety campaigns in partnership with the Student Unions to encourage responsible behaviour

> RCSI developed 19 new national guidelines for surgeons in COVID-19

> We kept our professional surgeons informed by weekly webinars and updates from our President > We delivered 102 CPD courses in surgery and emergency medicine

WE APPOINTED 311 SURGERY AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE SPECIALITY TRAINEES FOLLOWING INTERVIEWS BROUGHT FORWARD BY THREE WEEKS > We shared online skills kits with 60 surgical bootcamp trainees > RCSI provided simulation facilities for research on new techniques including PPE breathing apparatus during surgery > We updated surgical professionals from across the world on the latest innovations through our virtual Charter meeting 2021 with 3,000 global delegates registered over 5 days

SUPPORT FOR SURGICAL TRAINING AND PRACTICE

> Our curated COVID-19 surgery web resource was accessed by 62,200 people


RCSI - REFLECTING ON OUR COVID-19 EXPERIENCE

BRINGING EXPERT-DRIVEN INFORMATION TO THE PUBLIC

7,097

IMPACTFUL RESEARCH FOR PATIENTS AND FRONTLINE WORKERS

2020 MEDIA MENTIONS

> RCSI academics contributed to expert media commentary and public understanding > Expert commentary and COVID-19 research reached international media including New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, Australia’s Nine News Radio > We created free online resources to help manage COVID-19 anxiety

> We discovered a blood test to predict which COVID-19 patients will develop severe infection > Our nursing teams developed a treatment to prevent facial pressure ulcers in healthcare staff

> Our RCSI MyHealth public lecture series moved online offering advice on key wellbeing issues > 8,602 people enrolled on ‘The Science of Health and Happiness’ ree online course launched by RCSI’s Centre for Positive Psychology and Health

> RCSI academics and IT specialists created a digital clinical support tool for COVID-19 that enables hospitals to optimise and scale acute respiratory care > Researchers at RCSI are investigating blood clotting abnormalities in COVID-19 patients to improve treatments

RESOURCES FOR FRONTLINE HEALTHCARE WORKERS > RCSI hosted “Conversations that matter” weekly webinars with the HSE in Ireland and RCSI healthcare experts > We launched the GP-Surgeons Connect service, with Irish College of General Practioners for rapid connection of GPs with surgeon advisors > Free positive mental health training and resources developed by RCSI academics were provided free through our dedicated website > We delivered personal leadership and self-care podcasts to support front-line workers in challenging times > Our Comfort for Carers campaign provided care packs to ICU staff to help alleviate the occurrence of face mask skin injuries

> We have led clinical trials of a therapy for critically ill COVID-19 patients in intensive care > We developed a programme for facial PPE sterilization > Our researchers are conducting trials to detect COVID-19 infection in saliva and exhaled breath condensate > An RCSI-led study is investigating pathogenesis of COVID-19 > Our clinical staff are developing new treatment regimens to reduce the severity of infection > We maintained access to labs throughout the pandemic to ensure vital research continued and the progression of our postgraduate healthcare students Information correct at time of print (3 March 2021)