The Society for Education in Anesthesia (SEA)-HVO Traveling Fellowship is an opportunity awarded annually to a handful of senior anesthesia residents interested in furthering their own education while supporting their colleagues in resource-scarce countries. Recipients of the fellowship spend four weeks teaching at one of HVO’s numerous anesthesia project sites.
Prior to departure, fellows are expected to familiarize themselves with common surgical pathologies and anesthesia techniques used at the project site where they will work. The HVO KnowNET is an essential resource during this stage of trip planning. This members-only website houses trip reports from previous SEA-HVO Traveling Fellows, which often contain detailed information on the types of cases they encountered and the training they provided.
SEA-HVO Fellow Jon-Rene Suffern, MD, described one difference he encountered during his January 2017 assignment in Blantyre, Malawi:
“The trainees treat extreme cases of uncontrolled chronic disease, i.e., pre-eclampsia is rarely encountered … Often times, (patients) present in eclampsia which entails unique management rarely administered in developed countries. This being the case, the trainees are not exposed to pre-eclampsia presentation and management.”
These types of differences are opportunities for a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge. Fellows may share their familiarity with the pre-stages of a disease, while local staff provide guidance on managing more advanced cases. Preparation on the part of the fellow is necessary in order for such an exchange to occur.
While abroad, fellows not only gain teaching experience, they also learn to adapt to unfamiliar clinical environments, and to engage in creative problem solving to better meet the needs of local providers and patients. Dr. Suffern wrote of how he adapted his teaching style in his 2017 trip report:
“After the first day of their short lectures I realized that the students were eager to not only receive my lessons but always very willing to take leadership roles. Their willingness to put forth great efforts illustrated that I must maintain a high standard of didactics as they expected very much from me.”
Completion of the SEA-HVO Traveling Fellowship broadens residents’ global health perspective by increasing their understanding of how health systems operate in diverse local contexts. The impact of this shift in perspective may be lifelong, as it influences the way fellows teach and practice after they have returned home. As Fatemah Mamdani, MD, explained in her report summarizing her February 2017 Fellowship assignment in Blantyre:
“I always thought I wanted to ‘improve global health’ or even know what that statement meant. But, after this experience I look at ‘improving global health’ in a completely different light. The issues with global health are many and nuanced. I didn’t realize how much education has an impact in this effort, but after this experience I have a deeper respect for people who take time to educate and empower. I hope I have accomplished a small part of that this past month, but there is so much more to do. This experience has re-kindled my passion for ‘improving global health,’ but more importantly, has helped me gain more insight into what that statement really means.”
If you are a senior anesthesia resident interested in joining Drs. Suffern and Mamdani, and the many others who have gained insight into the global practice of anesthesia while transforming lives through education, you can apply now for the 2018 SEA-HVO Traveling Fellowship. Applications are being accepted through close of business January 9, 2018.