Award-winning surgeon, Professor Andrew Renaut, has been providing medical students with an innovative way of learning new surgical techniques — by broadcasting his surgical procedures online. Now he's encouraging his colleagues to do the same.
After becoming a leading expert in his field, Renaut wanted to share his knowledge, and feels that video content and the added knowledge of other specialists would give students a better look into different procedures.
"People who control decisions about whether this should become mainstream are from the older generation ... I understand the technology and its applications and benefits. Most of my colleagues don't, however. It's frustrating that they don't see it."
Renaut's speciality is gut surgery, meaning that only students who are interested in that area will benefit. He said that if more and more surgical specialities came to the fold, the benefit to students would increase exponentially.
"I think people are quite keen on the concept and I'm trying to get my colleagues involved in it."
If Renaut had his way, students and doctors alike could go online at the start of a week and view the scheduled procedures and when they will be broadcast.
"Like 'the surgical channel', if you will," said Renaut.
The professor has been webcasting his surgeries over the last four years through the Australian Institute for Medical Education.
"Students, nurses, physiotherapists, etc aren't the sort of people who would be at the sharp end — excuse the pun — of surgery, and these are the sorts of people who need to know how it's done," Renaut said.
While video-surgery isn't the same as being there and being hands on, Renaut acknowledges that it's the next best thing for students who want to see cutting-edge procedures up close and personal.
Those viewing the surgical webcast need an ADSL2+ connection or higher to see it in adequate detail. Renaut has previously expressed frustration that he isn't able to webcast at a higher picture quality due to local bandwidth constraints.
He plans to broadcast surgeries in high definition to give students the ultimate front-row seat in the operating theatre.
The professor supports both the plans of both the Coalition and Labor for faster broadband.
Renaut's main focus is on collaborative endeavours within the medical community. He is also currently working toward a social-networking platform for surgeons where they can come together and share techniques to expand their knowledge base.