Reflections from Abroad: Transitioning from Trainees to Teachers

Editor’s Note: This is the third and final post in a series written by Victoria Elliot, MSPH, a public health professional and medical student who accompanied HVO staff member April Pinner on a recent trip to Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Victoria’s background in public health, coupled with the fact that she is in the midst of receiving her own medical training, enables her to bring a unique perspective to HVO’s long-standing and successful collaboration with AHC. We hope you enjoy this inside look from an outside perspective. Don’t miss Victoria’s first piece on HVO’s partnership with AHC, and her second piece on AHC’s interdisciplinary oncology team.

During my visit to the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I had the opportunity to see how, through positive continuing partnerships, Health Volunteers Overseas is succeeding in its mission to “[improve] the availability and quality of health care through the education, training and professional development of the health workforce in resource-scarce countries.”

One of HVO’s longstanding collaborations with AHC is its anesthesia training project. Since 2005, HVO volunteers have worked to provide education and training to the hospital’s anesthesia team. During our visit, April and I had the opportunity to spend several days meeting with and observing members of this team. We were joined by Dr. Richard Henker, a committed HVO volunteer who, until 2015, served as project director for the anesthesia training project at AHC. Dr. Henker’s presence enabled us to see first-hand the impact of the collaboration and knowledge-sharing that occurs between HVO volunteers and AHC staff. 

While the team is now highly skilled in providing anesthesia care to patients, all the team members have a keen interest in continuing to expand their knowledge and experience through working with HVO volunteers, attending conferences, and taking advantage of any other training opportunities available to them. 

In addition, anesthesia team members have begun to provide training in clinical anesthesia to other students and health care professionals. Nurses travel from hospitals throughout Cambodia to learn from the team. Students from the University of Pittsburgh, who come to AHC accompanied by Dr. Henker, also benefit from the AHC team’s experience and knowledge of how best to provide care in a resource-scarce setting.

Most recently, AHC anesthesia team members have become involved in training Laotian nurse anesthetists who travel from AHC’s sister hospital, the Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) in Luang Prabang, Laos. In July 2016, AHC’s lead nurse anesthetist, Mr. Bunrum Ly, also traveled to LFHC along with Dr. Henker to assist with the opening of LFHC’s Operating Theatre.

The dedication to teaching and learning that is shared by HVO volunteers and their counterparts in resource-scarce countries is exemplified by the members of AHC’s anesthesia team. Over the course of the last decade, the team members have maintained their desire to continue to expand their own knowledge of anesthesia, while transitioning from the role of trainees to that of teachers. It was a pleasure to witness how the members of the AHC anesthesia care team combined the joy of teaching with their love of learning—all in an effort to improve patient care.

Learn more about AHC by viewing the video below.

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