Forum attracts global leaders in applying remote presence technology in rural and remote communities

The Remote Presence Forum, a three day workshop on the application of remote presence technology in rural, remote and northern communities, wrapped up today with a public session about using the technology to address healthcare gaps. This event, an initiative of the university's International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD) and College of Nursing, attracted global leaders in remote presence technology for training and clinical purposes.

"The University of Saskatchewan is honoured to welcome this outstanding delegation of global leaders in remote presence technology," said Forum Chair Lorna Butler. "Four countries (Canada, United States, Philippines and Russia) are coming together and sharing their expertise. The innovative thinking that each person contributes to this new and emerging area of health technology is revolutionary. Individually and collectively we are changing peoples' lives."

"Our centre is focused on working with northerners to build strong communities," said ICNGD Director, Ken Coates. "One of the first steps in accomplishing this is ensuring healthcare needs are met including the availability of services and advancing health research. Northerners want and need to be involved in shaping their own training and service delivery systems and this forum is one way we're helping them do that."

The College of Nursing has been using remote presence technology to deliver its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to students in La Ronge and ÃŽle-Ã -la-Crosse since September 2012. The use of this technology for health education in northern communities addresses two major challenges to the system - the acute shortage of Aboriginal health professionals in Northern Saskatchewan and enabling students to use the technology in clinical practice after graduation because of their experience with it during their studies; the latter being explored in depth during the forum.

"Saskatchewan is well situated to be a global leader in using remote presence technology, both in health sciences education and in rural and remote clinical practice," said Butler. "By bringing together researchers, educators, technology experts and northern stakeholders, we hope to create a global network of innovation leaders who are willing to advance an interprofessional application of remote presence technology in the health sciences."

The ICNGD and College of Nursing have been working together for over three years on various projects designed to address healthcare challenges in northern and remote communities. Some of their other joint initiatives include:

  • The Summer Institute - A field school that matches students in the ICNGD's Master of Northern Governance and Development program with northern nursing students for the purposes of: building a better understanding of northern health issues and discovering new approaches that overcome challenges posed by remoteness.

  • Distributed Learning - Through the use of technological innovations such as videoconferencing and robotics, the ICNGD and College of Nursing are working to overcome the obstacles presented by remoteness and to extend high quality training and service delivery in northern and other rural/remote communities.


For more information:

Colleen CameronICNGD
University of Saskatchewan306-966-1609 |
Kylie DietrickCollege of Nursing
University of Saskatchewan306-966-1323 |

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