June 15, 2001
Volume XXXIV, No. 24


Newly Granted


Teleconference Network of Texas to celebrate 30th anniversary


The Teleconference Network of Texas (TNT), the university's distance education network designed to bring current clinical and managerial information to health care providers in their work settings, has reached a milestone in service. Dr. Francisco G. Cigarroa, president, will join faculty, staff and students at an upcoming celebration in honor of the 30th anniversary of TNT. Dr. Cigarroa will present tokens of appreciation on behalf of TNT to faculty and other health professionals who have served as course advisers and assisted the TNT staff in the development of programs.

Dr. Ken Andrews, director of TNT, attributes the network's success to the involvement of a dedicated staff.

"The accomplishments of TNT are the result of a team approach by the entire TNT staff to ensure the delivery of current, high-quality programming to sites throughout the United States," Andrews said.

Dr. John Littlefield, director of academic informatics services (AIS), agrees. "A critical component of TNT's success is the contribution of the faculty advisers who serve as content specialists for the wide range of programs offered," he said.

TNT, a component of AIS in the division of information management and services, began in 1971 as a series of nine, two-hour therapeutic seminars for junior and senior students, housestaff, faculty and practicing physicians. These seminars, presented by a panel of three to four experts, focused on subjects including diabetes, hypertension, angina, arthritis, asthma, backache and urinary tract infections. These were covered on a practical, patient-care level. As an experiment, the seminars were transmitted simultaneously to five community hospitals within a 60-mile radius: Fredericksburg, Seguin, New Braunfels, Kerrville and San Marcos. Fifteen hospitals were added during that year and the program continued to grow rapidly.

By 1973, 18 therapeutic seminars were being offered in 57 participating hospitals. Hospital networks expanded to a five-state area: 50 hospitals in Texas, three in New Mexico, two in Arkansas, one in Louisiana and one in Oklahoma.

The rapid success of TNT prompted positive changes in the way TNT was operated and transmitted. By 1992 TNT had acquired its own teleconference bridging equipment capable of handling up to 40 telephone lines. The U.S. Distance Learning Association named TNT "Most Outstanding Distance Education Network for 1992." By Fiscal Year 1995, TNT was offering a record-setting 307 sessions resulting in 42,000 registrant contact hours of distance education.

Jerry York, vice president and chief information officer, said TNT is successful because it provides educational opportunities in a no-nonsense format to countless people all over the world.

"TNT employs a practical model as a self-sustaining entity to provide continuing education programs far beyond the walls of the Health Science Center," he said.

During Fiscal Year 2000, TNT conducted 331 programs totaling 24,494 contact hours to 959 registered sites across the United States and Canada.

Dr. Andrews said TNT will continue to provide quality, ongoing continuing education programs for years to come.

"TNT is committed to building on the success of the past 30 years, while looking to the future by pursuing other avenues of content delivery, such as Web-based and videoconferencing," he said.