A first in Pakistan: AKU opens Centre for Innovation in Medical Education


Karachi: A wheezing two-year-old is brought to the emergency room. Attached to a monitor, his lips are beginning to turn blue and he is having difficulty breathing. Nursing students have just four minutes to correctly diagnose and resuscitate the child simulator. Across an observation window sits a faculty member who records her observations on managing a critical patient to share with the young students at the end of the one-hour session.

In a seemingly simple room a group of 12 medical students sit and discuss their latest case scenario on sepsis. As they work through the problem, one of them writes and saves notes on a 55-inch touch screen. An examiner, on the other side of an observation window makes a record – on teamwork, problem-solving and cognitive thinking – to share with the students.

“Welcome to the Centre for Innovation in Medical Education. Thirty years ago, when I was in medical college, my training was exclusively based on on-the-job exposure. We didn’t have simulators, we didn’t have clinical case discussions, we rarely ever received feedback on how we responded to a situation,” said Dr Farhat Abbas, Dean, Medical College, Aga Khan University. He was speaking during the inaugural ceremony of CIME.

“Knowledge, teaching methods and hence expectations of a professional’s competence and patient safety have changed dramatically since then,” he added. “Through this centre, we will provide high-tech education for current and future healthcare students and professionals, allow practice that reduces medical errors, improves patient safety and raises the quality of healthcare services even further.”

Indeed, CIME is a medical milestone for teaching and learning in the country. The new centre is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and ‘human’ patient simulation manikins, providing a safe, risk-free environment where medical, nursing and allied health students as well as healthcare professionals will be able to master clinical skills involved in routine procedures to complex new techniques before they move on to real patients.

For Firoz Rasul, President, AKU, who has seen the facility from its groundbreaking to completion, it is one of the most ambitious projects to have been conducted.

“CIME represents an investment in academic excellence at AKU. The Centre ensures that we are a model of innovation in the education we impart and the outstanding clinical training we offer to graduate doctors, nurses and allied health professionals that are world class.”

Spread over three floors, the centre offers eHealth clinics (telemedicine) and e-learning and teaching spaces, a variety of high fidelity manikins and multipurpose educational spaces.

The US$ 15 million centre has been entirely funded by generous donors. It will be utilised by AKU and be available to the wider health services community in the public and private sectors in Pakistan and the region.