There’s a logical explanation for the fact that the Canadian province of New Brunswick is suffering a doctor shortage: New Brunswick has no medical schools. How do you keep your most promising medical students close to home when they have to leave to fulfill their education? For its part, New Brunswick officials approached Dalhousie University Medical School in neighboring Nova Scotia about creating a new distance-learning program.
Here’s how the resulting Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick program works. Students attend the University of New Brunswick’s Saint John campus, where from one of two lecture halls they’re able to participate in medical classes held in a much larger lecture hall at Dalhousie Medical School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Sony high-definition cameras capture the action at each end, and video is transmitted between the two campuses using Tandberg C60 videoconferencing systems. The Dalhousie hall can hold almost 70 students, with a push-to-talk ClockAudio microphone at each seat. When students push to talk, a Sony camera pans in their direction so that the students in New Brunswick can see the person from the other campus speaking on a trio of 85-inch Panasonic plasma displays. To maintain audio fidelity at Saint John, AV integrator Westbury National Show Systems tied together a series of BSS Audio Soundweb London digital signal processors. And to ensure these long-distance classes are never interrupted and always “live,” the design team specified an inordinate number of Crestron DigitalMedia audio/video ports—11 switchers in all, seven of the 32x32-port variety—overseen by a dedicated control room.
Now that the first class of medical students is enjoying the benefits of distance learning, the program’s operators have extended their reach into four regional hospitals in New Brunswick.