REI-Vietnam News

Category  –  Medicine

Ten Years Well Invested

by Randy Vernon |

Image: Ten Years Well Invested
Judy Fenlason with OT/PT team, biking to conduct a therapy workshop (2005)

Twenty years, actually, adding Cliff and Judy Fenlason’s REI tenures together. This month REI-Vietnam celebrates the many years of service of Cliff and Judy, who will be ending their formal contribution to REI the end of May 2014. Their professional and personal investment in the lives of the Vietnamese people has made a profound and permanent impact. Read more about their legacy…

Cardiology/Family Medicine Team Offers Education to over 400 Doctors

by Lily Lauer |

Image: Cardiology/Family Medicine Team Offers Education to over 400 Doctors
Dr. Dan & Carol Mitchell, Madame Lien, Dr. Jesse Jorgensen, Dr. Mark & Carol Duster, Dr. Austin Raunikar

It was a busy and productive trip to Vietnam for the Fall 2013 Cardiology/Family Medicine team led by Dr. Austin Raunikar. The team worked in Da Nang, Hanoi, and Hue and offered education and assistance to over 400 doctors in various locations over a two week period. The team was able to reconnect with old friends and establish new relationships that they are confident will foster advancement for the program in the coming years.

Nursing Program Growing

by Lily Lauer |

Image: Nursing Program Growing
Attendees of the 2013 Patient Safety Seminar in Hanoi

This past September in Hanoi, REI’s Nursing Education Team, led by Dr. Elaine Goehner, conducted a seminar on patient safety. Roughly 100 nurses, doctors, pharmacists, staff, and leadership from eight different hospitals were in attendance. REI’s friend, Dr. Thu, was also involved with the seminar serving as both an interpreter and as a lecturer speaking about how to measure organizational readiness for change. (Read more about Dr. Thu here: The feedback received was very favorable, and the nursing team was asked to come back to offer a second seminar in 2014. To capitalize on what will be taught during the seminar, the nursing team plans to conduct one day of workshops, and then work with each hospital on issues specific to their situation and needs.

Nurses Bring Heart, Skill, and Vision to Vietnam

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: Nurses Bring Heart, Skill, and Vision to Vietnam
Kathie Cowie and Dr. Elaine Goehner present materials to faculty

A recent Gallup Poll showed that nursing is the most trusted profession in the US. Perhaps one reason is that nurses are not only well trained but that those drawn to the profession are compassionate people who have a heart to help others. REI is privileged to have two women with large hearts of compassion who are helping to advance nursing education and nursing practice in Vietnam.

ENT Surgeons in Vietnamese Exchange

by Lily Lauer with Jeff Stebbins |

Image: ENT Surgeons in Vietnamese Exchange
ENT medical team relaxing on a free day
It was a busy week for the team of seven otorhinolaryngologists (Ear, Nose & Throat doctors, or “ENTs”) who served in Vietnam this past March—and an adventure for Jeff Stebbins, who facilitated the trip. Jeff has a “Dr.” before his name, but he has a PhD in linguistics, not medicine. This was his first medical trip, so—besides offering his valuable skills in language, culture, logistical coordination, and ordering noodles—he was able to observe our very talented team of ENTs as they performed patient consultations, lectures, and surgeries.

Family Members Relish Teamwork

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Family Members Relish Teamwork
Dr. Morgan and daughter with E Hospital friends

What joy for family members to serve together in meaningful work! REI's February-March ENT specialty medical team had several prime examples.

Attending Physicians Bring Resident Physicians

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Attending Physicians Bring Resident Physicians
ENT residents performing surgery
Vietnamese physicians are eager to learn the latest knowledge and skills from our REI medical teams. Increasingly, they want to learn about how we in America train our specialists too. Attending physicians who bring resident physicians with them provide a valuable model of how we teach and train.

Between patient, scope, camera and microphone

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Between patient, scope, camera and microphone
Live demonstration underway in GI workshop

Three REI gastroenterologists conducted a major workshop for about sixty like specialists from the southern region last October. It was well organized and hosted by the University Medical Center (UMC) in Ho Chi Minh City and fabulously supported by the FujiFilm company. Much more ceremony and hoopla than we're used to, but it was well done and very effective!

Building Professionally and Personally

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Building Professionally and Personally
A relaxed ENT & Mixed Specialty team at their hotel

You know our visiting and resident professionals are adding a lot to their Vietnamese counterparts’ professional knowledge, skill and other expertise. But that’s only half of the story!

Dr. Anh Completes REI Medical Fellowship

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Dr. Anh Completes REI Medical Fellowship
Observational Fellowships are a key part of the "exchange" concept in REI

Professional Experiences

Dr. Anh, REI-VN’s most recent fellow completed her observational fellowship with two gastroenterologists, Dr. Larry Kim from South Denver Gastroenterology, Denver, Colorado and Dr. Dick Baerg, Founder of the Tacoma Digestive Disease Center and the Tacoma Endoscopy Center. While with Dr. Kim and Dr. Baerg, Dr. Anh observed consults, follow up of patients, in-patient care, routine endoscopy procedures as well as advanced endoscopy such as ERCP (endoscopic cholangiography ) and EUS (endoscopic ultrasound). While in Washington state she and Dick Baerg also toured the UW Medicine GI facilities in Seattle. Dr. Anh is preparing for the addition of EUS capacity at her hospital in Vietnam.

REI-VN’s Vietnamese Ambassador

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: REI-VN’s Vietnamese Ambassador
Lien with friends of REI-VN in San Francisco

Lien Tran, REI's Representative for Vietnam Relations, may be small in stature, but in every other way she is big for REI-Vietnam. Her head, hands and heart are all engaged to meet the needs of anyone who is in need of her help. This may be expressed by getting medicine for a visiting professional who is sick, taking a visiting professional to the best shop for buying embroidery pictures, visiting a sick family member of a Vietnamese friend, helping one of REI-Vietnam’s resident professional with visa issues, or waiting at Noibai airport to greet an arriving team member’s midnight arrival. When asked for help if it is within her power to do so, her answer is always “yes”.

April ENT team sets the bar high

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: April ENT team sets the bar high
Dr. Brent Senior draws a surgical crowd

Based on his conversation with the neurosurgeon, Dr. Brent Senior knew the patient sitting before him suffered from a non-hormone-producing tumor lodged at the base of the skull. The man endured not only extreme headaches, but as the tumor continued to grow and press against the optic nerve his vision was also fading. Surgical removal of the mass was the only option.

Senior, Professor of Otolaryngology and Neurosurgery and Chief of the UNC School of Medicine Division of Rhinology, Allergy and Sinus Surgery, has successfully completed similar procedures in his operating room in Chapel Hill with a neurosurgeon at his side. But he wasn't in Chapel Hill. He was in Vietnam, and the local neurosurgeon wasn't going to scrub in.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery linkage formed

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Oral and maxillofacial surgery linkage formed
Dr. Eugene Keller examines a trauma patient
Some of our established medical teams in a specialty are open to doctors of other specialties also. That’s the way new things start! Such is the case with Dr. David Parsons and his fall ENT team. Last fall Dr. Eugene Keller of the Mayo Clinic joined this team and explored for good connections in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS).

Kathie Cowie (RN) Equipping Nurses in Vietnam

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: Kathie Cowie (RN) Equipping Nurses in Vietnam
Kathie giving a lecture to nurses

In November of 2010 Kathie Cowie co-led a small team of Nurses from the USA and Canada to Vietnam to train nurses in one of Hanoi’s prominent hospitals. She did rounds in the mornings and lectured in the afternoons, winning the hearts of both students and lecturers in the hospital.

Dick Baerg’s GI Team Adds Other Specialties

by Cliff Fenlason |

Image: Dick Baerg’s GI Team Adds Other Specialties
REI-Vietnam's visiting professionals return from another successful volunteer trip

REI sends two types of people overseas: resident professionals, who live and work in an emerging nation long-term, and visiting professionals, who spend a few weeks in a country volunteering their skills and knowledge in their various fields to local professionals.

Dr. Dick Baerg led a team of six medical doctors (two each in gastroenterology, cardiology and pulmonology/critical care) to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City Oct 15-28. They worked primarily in two hospitals in each city. The gastroenterologists were returning to GI departments well-connected. One cardiologist was returning too, but the others on the team were first-timers.

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