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Patient Care … Why We Are Here

One of our principal goals at Pegasus Lectures is to improve patient care. We take the idea of conceptual teaching related to clinical application very seriously, and believe that rote memorization and gimmicks to pass exams do a disservice to both you, as a thinking, caring, health care professional, and to your patients. In the reality of everyday life, however, it is easy to overlook the core aspect of patient care as our primary responsibility, because the logistics can be so draining.

Sarkis_workIn a previous blog, I referenced Dr. Vrej Sarkis because of the inspiration generated by his humility and perseverance. Dr. Sarkis, in addition to being displaced by the Syrian civil war, conducts his practice carrying around a heavy, older-model portable ultrasound scanner… often traveling by public transportation to and from rural hamlets. Certainly not the glamorous life you see on television medical dramas.

Today, I want to share the first part of a journal from Ms. Darla Matthew BAS, RT, RDMS. Darla embraced an opportunity to bring ultrasound technology education and interpretation skills to small villages in Vietnam. Many of you who followed my earlier blogging will remember, I took multiple journeys into Uganda working with Imaging the World to introduce ultrasound medical assessment to rural African populations. So you can imagine why I feel a special connection to Darla’s story and her commitment to ultrasound education beyond our shores.



Ultrasound Training in Ho Chi Minh City

(Part 1 of 2)

There are no formal ultrasound training programs in Vietnam. When I learned of an opportunity to teach Level II OB ultrasound to a group of OB physicians in Vietnam I was eager for what I thought would be a two week adventure. There were three instructors: myself, another instructor from New Mexico, and a physician from Bangladesh. The schedule was to lecture for four hours in the morning and scan patients in the afternoon. The medical mission training had been initiated by Dr. Phuc in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in collaboration with the Project Vietnam Foundation. They are a nonprofit humanitarian organization working to create sustainable pediatric healthcare in Vietnam, while providing free medical care and aid to impoverished rural areas across the country.

I recommended that the schedule begin with a lecture on basic ultrasound physics since most of the attendees had little to no previous experience. Over the summer we prepared lecture notes and sent them in advance for translation. I was surprised how much interest and enthusiasm the lecture on basic ultrasound physics received from Dr. Phuc.

Vietnam_StudentsUpon our arrival and during our stay, the hospitality of the medical staff and physicians was outstanding. However my personal emotions swung wildly in an attempt to reconcile the depth of gratitude for the learned knowledge that we had to offer against the desperate needs of the population. “Teach me more, please” was the overriding spirit. The fervor for learning sonography among the attendees was stirring. Beyond just the concepts of OB ultrasound, there was a tangible hunger to learn more about how the system operates and how to apply the physics concepts to improve their image! For some, physics was like magic. It unlocked the secrets of the ultrasound machine.

Observing Dr. Phuc in his laboratory, it was obvious that his training in Japan combined with five years of experience had given him expert scanning skills. Combined with his new-found infatuation with ultrasound physics he was a great candidate to challenge the ARDMS OB and SPI exams.

After two weeks, we provided a summary of our training mission’s strengths and challenges to administrators and to Project Vietnam Foundation. It was decided that we would return in one year to assess the skills of the physicians. During that year the hospital agreed to purchase additional ultrasound equipment and have weekly meetings with Dr. Phuc to review cases with them. We delivered objectives for the physicians to meet during that year and promised to directly observe their skills when we returned. The larger goal was to reduce the dependency on foreign training by establishing a core group of experts who could become ARDMS registered and in time create the first formal ultrasound training program in Vietnam.

To Be Continued …

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