OTTAWA -- It may seem a stretch to call the medical director of a hospital's skills and simulation centre a video star, but that's essentially what Dr. Glenn Posner has become. Star director at any rate. The centre at the Ottawa hospital typically trains medical students, residents and nurses from the University of Ottawa in a variety of skills. In March, the centre pivoted its training to focus on preparedness for a pandemic. That in person training lasted a few weeks, until the need to physically distance sparked the idea to put some of that training on video

"It became obvious by late March that it wasn't even appropriate to have these training sessions." The Centre's medical director Dr. Posner says without being able to bring people to the simulation centre any longer, the best way to train was with virtual reality videos.

Dr. Posner says they put together about 22 patient care videos

"What's the best way to intubate a patient in the operating room, what's the best way to transfer a patient to the OR for a cesarean section…?"

But then another pivot.

"I was talking about what I was doing at the simulation centre with one of my own patients. And she said, 'hey, you should make a virtual reality video for us,. And I said 'absolutely, you know how anxiety-inducing it must be to be a pregnant woman at the heart of the pandemic'."

Dr. Posner said he realized those patients had all kinds of questions, "What's everybody going to be looking like, are they wearing face masks or visors? Can my partner come with me into the operating room if I have C-section?"

Virtual reality videos again proved to be a very useful tool.

"It gave patients a sense of what it's going to look like for me to walk in the front door of the General or the Civic, this is the bank of elevators I need to take, this is what happens when I get up to labour and delivery, this is when my partner gets to come in with me. This is what the nurses and doctors are going to be wearing.

That "What to expect when you're expecting" style videos have proved a huge hit. Catering only to patients at the General and Civic campuses, they have garnered 9000 views on YouTube.

But creating all those additional patient care and patient guideline videos took its' toll on Dr. Posner. He says the whole team put in extra house to coordinate on the videos, shooting them themselves, or arranging for technicians to go into the hospital. He says everything was harder during a pandemic. In fact in the middle of it all, he was forced to start on blood pressure medication. "I can feel the stress levels rising just talking about it". He says now that things have started to calm down again, he is now starting to wean off of that medication.

But he says in addition to educating medical staff and patients with his videos, he's educated himself as well. The one big takeaway – get set for electronic and online learning.

"Nobody thought there was going to be a pandemic like this. We need to pandemic proof our medical education system". He says right now many medical students are doing almost nothing right now.

"The next time this comes around, or if there's a second wave, we will have a bank of videos and a bank of techniques to teach at a distance that we didn't have before."