Over the past two weeks I attended several medical conventions as an exhibitor.
First was a meeting for laparoscopic surgeons. Last week was a combined meeting of surgical program directors and coordinators, held in Toronto. The unique aspect of the exhibits at this meeting were the uses of multimedia technology aimed at surgical education.
First, of course, the Cine-Med display featured our latest books and our online video libraries, and a demo of our forthcoming Multimedia Atlas of Surgery. At this meeting, the most popular items were the books. Particularly a book about improving communication techniques for surgeons. The ACGME has mandated that surgical education serve one or more of six core competencies, including communication and professionalism. This book covers these two competencies. Click here if you want to see more:
Other interesting displays included virtual reality for surgical skills training. Cine-Med incidentally was one of the pioneers in medical VR, back in the early to mid 1990s. Our simulations required SGI computers costing more than your average family SUV of today. One memorable experience had me at a pay phone at the Atlanta Convention Center talking to our engineer, writing UNIX commands on the back of a cocktail napkin, then running back to our booth, climbing inside the wooden enclosure, typing the commands into the UNIX shell, jiggling some wires and then repeating until things were working. Cell phones in 1995 were not quite something your average person carried around, so payphones and running shoes fit the bill.
Today obviously the simulations run off laptops or similarly equipped desktop computers, sometimes cleverly hidden inside streamlined plastic enclosures. Input devices take the shape of actual or simulated surgical instruments, attached to any number of sensors, force feedback mechanisms or simply viewed with a video camera, as in actual surgery
Perhaps the most impressive use of multimedia and computers is the virtual patient simulator, known as Stan, seen in the lower left. This 200 pound android, developed for the military, has all the vital signs of a real person. You can listen to his breathing and heartbeat with a stethoscope, listen to bowel sounds, feel for a pulse in the neck and wrist, intubate his airway and even administer drugs and fluids. Wirelessly controlled by a Mac, and attached to a DVR with 5000 hours of recording time, the setup is used to train medical students in dealing with a variety of medical scenarios, and then review the exercises in real time. Very cool.
As usual, I spent my off hours exploring the city and seeking out new dining experiences. Unfortuantely I was also dealing with either Spring allergies, a head cold, or both. The first night I went to the Pickle Barrel, an odd restaurant serving deli food, Asian dishes, steaks and everything in between. The next night, exhausted from 8+ hours of standing and sneezing and coughing, I ate at the supposedly well regarded Chinese Dim Sum restaurant at my hotel, Lai Wah Heen. The Duck soup was very good, the roasted walnut beef dish was ok except for the walnuts and the beef, and the service was extremely slow. However watching the parade of roasted ducks (beaks included) and other unique presentations passed the time. The final night I went to the Irish Embassy Pub for a much deserved Irish Stew and a pint of Guiness. You can't go wrong with this combination. Finally Friday's events included a complimentary sit-down lunch at the hotel, then a quick break down and load out, cab to the airport, US customs while still in Canada (?) and an earlier flight back to New York for a drive home.
Thanks for reading.
Once in a while, we get a post on the Business and Marketing forum here on the COW asking advice for education. For example, should I go to college, film school, Full Sail, or just buy some gear when I graduate high school and start working.
Each of these options has its merits and pitfalls, and everyone's experience is unique. And there have been successes and disappointments all around.
Here is a snippet of my experience.
In the Spring of my Sophomore year at the University of Hartford, a graduate student named Chuck called a meeting for interested students. He was proposing that for the first time, a weekly newscast be broadcast on campus. This was 1992. Prior to 1992, there was no cable tv on campus, but a system had just been installed and the campus tv studio received a modulator for campus channel 2.
We came up with the clever name STN - Student Television Network, producing the weekly Channel 2 News.
But this was April, so school would soon be out for the summer. My Summer internship in 1992, amazingly enough, was news intern for the Midday News at WCVB in Boston. Serendipity strikes again!
My daily responsibilties at CVB were to be the producer's assistant. When I arrived at 8:30am, the rundown for the noon show was complete. I was to gather the tapes for stories which would be reused from an earlier broadcast, either the morning news or the previous evening's news. I was to write a cue sheet and order Chyrons for each story, and get these documents to the director, audio engineer and CG operator.
My next task was to cut new VO and VO/SOT pieces, either based upon stock footage, older stories or occasionally unused raw footage from the previous day. The editor actually did the cutting, but I was to make the editing decisions. I was a bit slow to get the hang of it, but it was excellent training. And it is quite impressive that the producer of a newscast in such a big market gives an intern such responsibility.
Again, cue sheets, CG, put tape in VTR room.
With stories cut, around 11am the scripts for the anchors began printing. I don't know if they still use these, but they had a 5 ply dot matrix form feed script. Each ply was a different color, one for each anchor, the producer, director and audio guy. I also had to make 8 copies or so of the final rundown and get this to various people.
One weekend I was lucky enough to hang out with a senior reporter for the day, helping him cover an apartment fire and a speech by George Bush the First - I logged the speech as it came down from the satellite, then we interviewed a retired general, I found stock footage from the Gulf War #1 and helped him cut the story in the online bay.
At the end of the Summer, I actually had a pretty decent idea of how to produce a newscast.
Good thing, because in September 1992, our group began rehearsals for our first live show in Spring 1993. At the same time, my second internship at WFSB sent me out in the field every week with a different reporter. I have blogged in more detail about this previously.
Today it the 15 year reunion for STN, so I have been thinking about the great experiences, and the lack of sleep. Here are a few memories:
A weekly newscast doesn't sound so difficult. After all, some colleges have a daily newscast, and of course broadcast stations, even in small markets, do this several times a day. Well we were just starting out, everyone had classes, jobs, internships and girlfriends (well, not everyone), and we only had one editing bay, so stories would be cut whenever time was available, often at 3am the night before the show. We had an old ratty sofa bed in the editing room, and this was used many times (for sleeping of course!).
As News Director, I took on some of the more serious stories. One such story was faculty layoffs. The night before our show, I had to get an interview for my story. Knowing that the University President Tonkin was teaching nearby, I staked out the auditorium with a camera crew and got in his face as he came out fo the room. "Oh, it's you," was his first response, but he gave me the sound bite I needed.
When the Student Government gave us our initial funding, $15,000 bought us 2 S-VHS camcorders, tripods, microphones, an SVHS player for editing stories to U-Matic tape, an IFB system and some tapes. We relied upon the generous tv studio director for all of our other gear.
Since I left upon graduation in 1994, the university has realized what an asset STN had become, and funding has never ceased. In 1995 they upgraded to better SVHS cameras, and a few years later DVCPRO cameras and decks replaced the lower end gear. They now do remotes on campus, broadcast sporting events and get press credentials for major events such as the Presidentialinaguration, political conventions and the World Series.
Equipment aside, which is always changing, what I really took away from this experience is the ability to think on my feet, work against a deadline, work as part of a team, be a leader and manager, learn new skills and have fun doing it. Indeed, the same skills needed for any job in this industry.
If you are a prospective college student, current one, parent or someone who chose not to go to college, you will have your own approach to learning and honing your craft. This was my experience, and it was a good one.
Thanks for reading.