Surgical Skills Centre 25th Anniversary

By Surgical Skills Team


For 25 years, the University of Toronto Surgical Skills Centre (SSC) at Mount Sinai Hospital has been a crucial stepping stone for more than 225,000 learners entering various health-care professions. The SSC provides a safe environment for learners to acquire and refine essential skills before direct patient care, using simulation models to enhance manual dexterity, critical thinking and technical abilities.

Dr. Richard Reznick, our founding member, aptly quotes Vince Lombardi: “Practice does not make perfect.  Only perfect practice makes perfect.” This continues to be our goal.

Notably, the SSC's high school co-op program has supported over 65 students, many of whom now pursue careers in fields such as nursing, medicine, surgery, teaching, research and paramedicine. Read just a few of their testimonials at the bottom of this page.

While the SSC has served us well over the past 25 years, our facility is aging and new simulation technology opportunities are increasing.

As we mark this anniversary milestone, our goal is to raise $125,000 to secure the next quarter century of excellence at the SSC. Your donation will help modernize and enhance the facilities that will train the next generation of medical professionals, ensuring the highest standard of surgical care for patients. Join us in shaping the future of health-care education!

How you can help:

  1. Donate to help invest in the future of the SSC
  2. Share the campaign with your colleagues and through your networks
  3. Organize a fundraising event in your workplace to support the SSC
  4. Get in Touch: If you have any questions, please reach out to Lisa Satterthwaite, or visit our website:

Our Progress

50% of Fundraising Target

Reached Fundraising Goal

About Us

Dr. Oleg Safir D.H. Gales Director Surgical Skills Centre

Wednesday 1st May

It is my immense pleasure and honour to congratulate the Surgical Skills Centre with this remarkable milestone. Twenty-five years of impeccable service, and many more to come!

I first met the SSC staff nearly 20 years ago when I was an international fellow trying to verify my qualifications in a new country while starting my life anew. The lab provided me with a safe, welcoming space to practice, to work together with my new colleagues, and to develop a successful trajectory for my career. Today, as an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, a practicing orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital, and the D.H. Gales Director of the Surgical Skills lab, I am certain that my life was forever changed by this extraordinary place and its people.

 I have the privilege to not only work with some of the best team members in Toronto, but also to regularly participate in hands-on teaching at the lab. It gives me great joy to be able to meet the new generation of surgeons when they are just learning the ropes. And from talking with my faculty colleagues, I know that I am not alone in this sentiment – all the teaching staff treat the SSC sessions as a special delight. 

 The past 12 years as the Director at the Surgical Skills Centre have been years of pioneering breakthrough in educational approaches, building and improving courses, including more trainees each year, and working with an incredible team of professionals. Our commitment to excellence is reflected in everything we do, and we hope that you will become a part of our community. By contributing to the SSC fundraising campaign, you can help us expand our impact even further.

Here’s to the first 25 years of the Surgical Skills Centre……. Let this just be the beginning!

Oleg Safir

D.H. Gales Director

Surgical Skills Centre

C. Jennifer Chou, MSc, MD, CCFP

Wednesday 1st May

I owe where I am right now to the SSC, there’s just no other way to put it. I entered the SSC as a summer student and a research aide in the early 2000’s. Thanks to this amazing place, the wonderful staff who work here and the team that made it all possible, I learned so much and was so inspired that I decided to pursue my post-graduate degree and eventually medical school. This is place of innovation, of cutting-edge technology devoted to discovery and the ongoing translation of knowledge. There’s a real “do it to it”-ness that permeates everything about this place, an atmosphere that encourages one to strive for personal excellence no matter where your paths may lead you. For me, the experiences at the SSC still motivates me to this day, even if my paths led me down to some interesting places (eastern-most tip of Canada, b’ys! Cape Speer!)
So, it’s my absolute honour to congratulate the SSC on its 25th anniversary. There is simply no other place like this.

Congratulations to you and the SSC on this very special occasion! 

I will always be proud to have been part of the team once. 


Dr. Wayne Chou MD Family Medicine

Tuesday 30th Apr

My experiences in the Surgical Skills Centre were the most formative part of my journey in this life long career in medicine. It is from this place that I got my first introduction to so many different branches of medicine through the application of procedural treatments and it served as a drive to help me achieve my dreams of becoming a physician. However, I learned so much more than just medicine there, I learned many valuable skills such as networking, project management, as well as audiovisual skills that would serve me to this day. Under the auspices of my wonderful team leaders and managers, I learned how to be both a member and a leader of a great team. I wouldn't be where I am today without my time in the SSC. Thank you,


Dr. Curtis Foong Family Physician, CCFP

Wednesday 24th Apr

"I had a wonderful opportunity to volunteer and conduct research at the Surgical Skills Centre (SSC) during my undergraduate and medical school journey. Working alongside the warm and welcoming team at the SSC was a pleasure. My time there played a pivotal role in shaping my medical career - they even offered support for my endeavours in digital health. This experience enabled me to continue pursuing digital health initiatives throughout my residency and into my current technology-driven family practice.


Moreover, the ongoing support from the SSC team helped develop my surgical skills, enabling me to incorporate becoming a surgical assistant into my career. I am thankful for the chance to collaborate with such an inspiring group of professionals.

Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary, Surgical Skills Centre!"

Sophia Nunes Year 3 Medical Student U of T

Friday 19th Apr

I look back fondly on my time as a high school co op student and surgical technician assistant at the SSC. My time in the lab gave me an opportunity to gain insight into the medical field and catalyzed my future career. The  innovative teaching, high-tech facilities, and collaborative environment all motivated me to purse this intriguing and challenging field. Moreover the passion amongst students, residents and staff was infectious. My favourite experiences included assisting with an aortic valve replacement on a cow heart and a below-knee amputation for an orthopedic exam. I am thankful for the opportunities provided by the SSC, both as a co-op student and now as a learner. 

Jesse Wolfstadt MD MSc FRCSC FAAOS Division of Orthopaedics Sinai Health, University of Toronto

Friday 19th Apr

“The Sinai Skills Centre has been critical to my development as both a learner and an educator. It is the place that I first learned how to scrub my hands like a surgeon and tie suture knots, and where I now teach international students how to perform revision knee replacement. I owe a huge part of my career achievements to the teaching, friendship, and kindness of the SSC and its staff.”

Kyle R Wanzel MD MEd FRCSC Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Division Head - St. Joseph’s Health Centre Program Director & Associate Professor University of Toronto

Friday 19th Apr

Happy 25th Anniversary to the Surgical Skills Centre! It’s been an amazing place - from its infancy until now. I was fortunate to be a part of it in the very beginning as a Plastic Surgery resident and Master of Education researcher when it was the first of its kind in Canada until now whereby I organize multiple sessions per year (as Program Director) for our current Plastic Surgery trainees. 


A heartfelt thank you to all of those who helped out enormously along the way (including but certainly not limited to) Lisa, Shunne, Dezan, Marina, Finch and Jason and Alexander. 

Adam Dubrowski Professor and Canada Research Chair in Health Care Simulation - Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University

Friday 19th Apr
"Just as a river is a dynamic entity, ever-changing with its passing currents, waves, and whirlpools, so too is the essence of the Surgical Skills Centre. It is bound by its trajectory, banks, bottom, and surface, but it is the people who lead it, manage it, and volunteer within it that give it the meaning.

I vividly recall, as an NSERC-funded postdoctoral trainee, a moment when my academic aspirations wavered. Serendipitously, an email from Glenn Regehr and Richard Reznick crossed my desk, seeking a researcher in a new and exciting area. Without hesitation, I plunged headfirst into this opportunity. Now, after opportunities to work with countless trainees, publishing many papers, and receiving numerous awards, I consider that moment in 2001 as the most important decision in my professional life. Despite exploring other bodies of water, I still find myself frequently returning to the riverbanks of the Surgical Skills Centre to quench my thirst for knowledge and collaboration."

April Joy Lisanin RN, BScN Operating Room, Patient Care Coordinator Thoracic, Urology and Gyneoncology UHN - Toronto General Hospital

Friday 19th Apr

My career journey truly began in the SSC. I was a Gr. 11 co-op student at the SSC back in 2008. Healthcare has always been an interest from the start. The SSC exposed me to an avenue of healthcare that was unique to a 17-year-old. Being around surgical instruments, equipment, and surgeons-in-training was a very eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about surgeries and was very interested in learning more, which lead me to go back to volunteer during the summer a couple years after. In the end, this solidified my passion to become an OR nurse. 


16 years later, I am now a Patient Care Coordinator for the Operating Room at Toronto General Hospital. Prior to this role I was an OR nurse for about 8.5 years. To accomplish what you dreamed of since high school, and now working your dream job is nothing short of amazing. I’d like to thank the SSC for being part of that pinnacle moment in my life. Without your centre, team and support, I would not be where I am today. Throughout my nursing school and nursing career, I’ve been asked the question: “Why the OR, or what made you choose to be an OR nurse?” My answer has always been: “My high school co-op placement was at The Surgical Skills Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital and my experience there influenced me to be an OR nurse. I’ve loved the OR ever since.” 


Congratulations SSC on your 25 years! I feel very honored to be part of the SSC family. To many more years to come, and to starting more career journeys like mine.

Thank you to our supporters


Todd Finlayson

THE TRAGIC HIP.....In appreciation for the wonderful work and compassionate approach of Dr. Oleg Safir and his team. I was referred to Dr Safir after 4 unsuccessful attempts to revise the initial hip replacement made necessary due to infection. Dr. Safir performed the 'two step' revision to eradicate the infection and put in the final prothesis. Without this fine work, I would not be back to skiiing, riding horses, golfing, hiking and being just generally active. Changed my life... For this, I will be forever grateful. Thanks Dr. Safir


Jeremiah Groen

You guys have me a lot. Continued pursing medicine after my time there! Thank you!


Sam Agueci

Congratulations on such an achievement of 25 years in Surgical and Medical Education!


Katie Dorman

Thank you to the SSC for your incredible contribution to my education and early career!


Erin Satterthwaite & Jeff Woodlock

Happy 125!




Maria Cifuentes


Jack Sheen

My very best to the SSC! Lisa and the rest of the staff made it a most memorable learning experience!


Gillian Gravely


Portia Mohlmann


Shirley Mcveigh