Building critical care workforce capacity in Timor Leste

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May 2010

A multidisciplinary team of University of Sydney affiliated doctors and nurses from Sydney Medical School, Northern Clinical School, Sydney Nursing School and ICU at Royal North Shore Hospital is working with partners in Timor Leste to develop crucial critical care skills.

The project commenced in 2009 when the University of Sydney team ran workshops and a train-the-trainer session in the National Hospital Guido Valadares in Dili. They returned to Timor Leste in May 2010 to extend the program to include a skills workshop in Maliana District Referral Hospital.

"The May workshop is the third of these to be run in Timor Leste and is part of a larger Critical Care capacity building education program," says Associate Professor Lyndal Trevena, Director of the Office for Global Health. The Critical Care Education Program is a collaborative effort between Timor Leste's Ministry of Health and the University of Sydney to improve the capacity of the critical care workforce in Timor Leste.

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"The workshops use a systematic, practical and hands-on approach to teaching and learning and cover basic patient assessment skills as well as the need for teamwork and documentation", says Dr Kirsty Foster, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education, Northern Clinical School. "This approach to teaching has proven to be highly successful because it enables participants to practice the skills they are learning."

A combined tutoring team of Australian and Timor Leste tutors (mix of doctor and nurse clinical educators) ran the specially designed two-day practical workshop at Maliana Referral Hospital for 15 doctors and nurses from the Hospital. The Timorese tutors were selected from a cohort of tutors who had been previously trained by the Australian team in 2009 and it is envisaged that training Timorese tutors to run practical workshops similar to this will make this a more sustainable program.

In addition to the workshop, some of the University of Sydney team did follow up 'on-the-job' training and practical clinical scenario sessions with Emergency and ICU doctors and nurses at the National Hospital Guido Valadares in Dili who had participated in previous workshops. This helped reinforce practical skills and techniques they had previously been taught and also helped identify other areas of need.

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"A sign of high-level support from the program has been discussions with the Timor Leste Ministry of Health, the National Hospital, the Institute of Health Sciences, district referral hospitals, community health services and other relevant organisations in Timor Leste to roll out the critical care workshop to other district referral hospitals and also collaboratively formulate a sustainable education plan for nationwide critical care skills training", says Manager of International Relations with Timor Leste, Dr Dilhani Bandaranayake.

Depending on additional funding support, the team intends to continue the critical care clinical workshops in other district hospitals in Timor Leste as well as develop an ICU practical education program in the future.

AusAID's Public Sector Linkages Program (PSLP), Sydney Medical School, Sydney Nursing School and the University's International Program Development Fund (IPDF) fund the Critical Care Capacity Building initiative.

The multidisciplinary Australian training team is made up of staff from the University of Sydney and the Intensive Care Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital:

  • Associate Professor Lyndal Trevena – Associate Dean (International) and Director Office for Global Health
  • Dr Dilhani Bandaranayake – Manager, International Relations, Office for Global Health, Sydney Medical School
  • Dr Kirsty Foster – Sub Dean (Education and International) and Senior Lecturer in Medical Education, Northern Clinical School
  • Dr Roger Harris – Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine Specialist (RNSH) and Lecturer, Sydney Medical School
  • Dr Andrea Marshall - Sesqui Senior Lecturer Critical Care Nursing and Director Postgraduate Advanced Studies, Sydney Nursing School
  • Dr Anthony Delaney – Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine Specialist (RNSH) and Senior Lecturer, Sydney Medical School
  • Ms Rebecca Riordan – Nursing Unit Manager, Intensive Care Unit at Royal North Shore Hospital
  • Ms Leila Kuzmiuk – Nurse Educator, Intensive Care Unit, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle (formerly Clinical Nurse Educator, ICU, Royal North Shore Hospital.)


For more information contact Dr Dilhani Bandaranayake.