How Some of Children’s HeartLink Partners Spend Fridays

Published March 2, 2022

For a few months, every Friday for Bruna Cury Borim, a nurse leader from our partner hospital in Brazil, has been the same. She opens her laptop and spends the day in interactive lectures on advanced pediatric cardiology led by her colleagues in Canada. Then she puts what she’s learned into practice at Hospital da Criança e Maternidade and shares her gained knowledge in Portuguese with her team of pediatric cardiac nurses and even doctors.

Bruna is attending a one-year online course offered by SickKids, our medical volunteer institution. The program is providing nurses and young budding cardiologists with hands-on experience that’s been missing since the pandemic began.

Bruna Cury Borim, RN, (on the right) and a long-term volunteer Dr. Grace Arteaga from Mayo Clinic (at the center). The photo was taken during one of the training visits of the Mayo pediatric cardiac team to Brazil before the pandemic.


Our global partners shared with us that the cardiology fellows don’t have as many interactions with patients as before the pandemic due to a decrease in patient volume. This advanced training is a learning tool that can supplement this. The online format allows the training of medical professionals from around the world simultaneously.

“This course has become a valuable learning tool for cardiology fellows and nurses at our partner sites in India, Vietnam, Brazil and China,” says Adriana Dobrzycka, our country director. “This course is an example of our new blended learning model in action—it’s thorough, extensive and in-depth! And, while it doesn’t replace our traditional in-person medical volunteer hands-on training, it does offer one more way for cardiology fellows and nurses to learn in the new reality.”

During the pandemic, Children’s HeartLink has implemented alternative learning methods, in addition to medical training visits to our partner hospitals. The SickKids course is an example of finding available resources that help our partners to advance their cardiac programs even without in-person training.

“Since May 2020, we’ve been building a new blended learning model. We incorporate the principles of adult learning, improve how we provide education and focus on how we can use in-person and remote methods to help our partners advance more quickly,” says Anne Betzner, Children’s HeartLink vice president of programs and evaluation.

Last year, junior surgeons from our partner hospitals in India and Vietnam performed heart surgery on 3D printed heart models during an online surgical training organized by SickKids. Trainees called this course “a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience before getting to perform such surgeries in the operation room.” The SickKids team will lead a similar workshop for other Children’s HeartLink partners in March 2022.

Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. Founded in 1969, we currently support 18 partner hospitals in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam. In 2021, our medical volunteers trained over 5,400 professionals and helped more than 122,000 children worldwide. In the last 53 years, we have helped over one million children with heart disease.  Read more about our work