Dear Colleagues,

This will be the last #BeRCSI bulletin before we break for the end of the year, and what a year it has been. Time and again we have been amazed by how each and every staff member has stepped up to the challenges 2020 has thrown at us. Taking time to reflect on the successes RCSI has had in spite, or indeed, in response, to the pandemic, the thing we are most humbled by, is how the RCSI community has adapted, innovated, connected and supported each other in a truly unique year in RCSI history. From the whole of the HR team, and in the true essence of the #thankacolleague initiative, we thank you for your amazing efforts this year and your unwavering spirit.

On the topic of spirit, we hope you have been getting involved with the #RCSIFestiveFun events our Events, Inspire, REACH and Sports and Social teams have been busy planning or indeed your own department fun. One thing we are really missing is the buzz and excitement of the December chats, endless boxes of office ‘celebrations’ and seeing everyone’s (well Cathal’s anyway… J!!) hilarious Christmas jumpers! So to add to the festive cheer, we are hoping you will join us for a Festive Coffee Roulette morning on Friday 18th December at 10am, and wear your Christmas Jumper! For those of you who haven’t joined before, Coffee Roulette works on the basis, where, if you sign up, you will be randomly assigned to groups of three or four with colleagues from across the university, for a virtual informal chat and coffee. It is a great way to meet with colleagues from different departments, put faces to names or get to know new starters to RCSI. The beauty of Coffee Roulette is you do not know who you will end up talking to! So…. come and take a spin on the Festive Coffee Roulette wheel and join us for our last Coffee Roulette morning of 2020.  If you are interested please register through this link. Prior to this, we have the end of year December Townhall on Wednesday next 16th December at 10am.   We encourage all staff to tune in using the attendee link December Townhall Attendee Link .

You will hopefully have seen the RCSI announcement yesterday welcoming Professor Walter Eppich as the new RCSI Chair of Simulation. It is fitting that for this week’s Team Spotlight we feature the RCSI SIM team and hear of the innovative ways they have stayed connected over the last few months and some of their exciting plans for 2021! This is Michelle Scott on behalf of the Simulation Team.

For those of you not familiar with RCSI SIM – We’re an expanding team of 11 (at present) – Dr Claire Condron (Director of Simulation Education), Michelle Scott (Simulation Manager) our talented technicians and operations coordinator – Adam Roche, Clare Sullivan, Rebecca Kirrane, Miroslav Voborsky, Caoimhin O Conghaile, Tim Lawler and Simon Horne, Claire Mulhall (Research Programme Manager) and our most recent eminent addition to the team – Professor Walter Eppich (inaugural Chair in Simulation Education & Research).

Much like all of our colleagues and friends across RCSI, closure of our workplace and an immediate shift to home working on that fateful Friday 13th March came as a shock to us all! The very nature of our role on the RCSI Simulation Team involves dedicated, hands on, in person training and participation and the shift from this to remote working was an initial challenge for us all. However, being a team that constantly strives to adapt, innovate, step up and step forward, it didn’t take us long to find our groove “together-apart” and to pivot our day-to-day roles to continue to contribute to the overarching strategic mission of RCSI.

Some key aspects to ensuring team cohesiveness and readiness for this shift in working style included regular, consistent wellbeing check-ins with one another, our families and friends, team virtual coffees (no work chat permitted!) and weekly team meetings to review work priorities and progress. We found alternative ways to celebrate birthdays and special occasions – organising team quizzes about the special individual and a Big Bank Holiday Team Quiz with a rewarding prize for all involved. Thanks to the Trojan work of the IT Team, MS Teams enabled us to ‘see’ one another and stay connected through our virtual meetings and regular chats and updates for one another. Miro began a wonderful cookery blog – sharing delicious easy weekly lockdown recipes (I highly recommend the lemon chicken!) and Simon shared regular “On this day….” Facts which prompted some interesting unknowns and discussions! We came together as a team to ensure that we had consistent RCSI SIM representation as part of the RCSI INSPIRE Bake Off challenge and had a few star bakers along the way with mouth-watering creations appearing from the team each week.

We took time to ensure that everyone had opportunity to expand on personal development opportunities – completing programmes via RCSI LinkedIn Learning Platform and other relevant simulation associated online education programmes. We also established monthly SimEd sessions where members of the team shared insights from what they had learned and how it might adapt to supporting our strategic initiatives. Eager to continue our proactive and innovative approach to teaching and learning at RCSI, we held an interactive, virtual brainstorming session using a platform called StormBoard to share our ideas and thoughts for how we could take this remote working opportunity to develop work streams that we had in mind but were challenged to find the time to do in the past, and to identify new ways to support our colleagues and students across RCSI.

You can see some of the great work we were involved with in response to Covid in the poster below.  Since the return of students in August, the team have been on site every single day and even some weekends to support the essential skills-based training required to ensure that our students and trainees develop the best in skills, knowledge and experience critical in order to progress to caring for patients safely in the future. Our simulated patients remain a core part of what we do and we underwent a significant recruitment and training drive to support the first ever remote Pharmacist Registration Exam coordinated by APPEL. To ensure that students continue to experience transformational learning opportunities we developed the first interactive, hybrid surgical ward round with pharmacy students joining us remotely from across the world (from Texas to Korea) to participate in ward rounds with on-site patients and surgical trainees.

The dedication and can-do approach of the team is a constant source of pride and so rewarding and inspiring to be a part of. We are now entering exciting territory with the recent arrival of our renowned new Chair in Simulation – Professor Walter Eppich alongside a new research team due to eagerly get started in January next year. All of this activity accompanies our exciting new name RCSI SIM which you’ll hear more about from us and the communications team in the coming weeks. To celebrate all of this and the forthcoming Christmas break, today (our one quiet day since return to site back in July!) we will be having a virtual team event to get together and hone our artistic talents as part of a canvas painting session. We thank all of you for your collaboration and collegiality and wish you a wonderful, peaceful Christmas. We look forward to hopefully seeing you in person at some point during 2021!

Festive best wishes,