REI-Vietnam News

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!

Our ENT & Mixed Specialty medical team of Sept-Oct found a good balance between professional contribution and personal development. Dr. David Parsons, Clinical Professor at the Universities of North and South Carolina, led this team on his 16th trip to Vietnam.

After so many trips you can bet that Dr. David has many close friends in Vietnam. Some of those friends have even been in his home in South Carolina…and have gotten to know his whole family. When David returns to Vietnam it’s like coming home again…to his Vietnamese family! REI has come to realize that there’s much value in these personal relationships.

Why? Relaxed time with friends creates comfort in the relationship and builds trust. Discussion with good friends is one way we gain perspective and shape values. On this trip David had a chance to share his personal story with many of his medical colleagues and they were very responsive to him sharing lessons from life. Some who heard him tell this were ever so warm to him afterwards, lingering on and not wanting to take their leave. David says, “We’re touching people—touching lives, not just medicine.”

David and others would arrange meals with some of their doctor friends. Conversations were rich! Sometimes they were invited to a friend’s home. Those were great times of going deeper as friends.

Finding out that David is an avid golfer, one hospital director took David and Mike Disher (another ENT surgeon and a golfer) to his favorite breakfast place on Saturday, followed by a round of golf at one of Vietnam’s best golf courses. Here are David and Mike on the golf course with two of their hospital colleagues.

David says, “Since I love golf it’s exciting to me to mix golf and the people I love in Vietnam!”

Dr. Bob Attorri is a pediatric surgeon from Charlotte. He and his wife, Debi, were on their first trip to Vietnam. Bob feels like he couldn’t offer much at the leading edge of pediatric surgery in Vietnam because they’re already pretty advanced—and extremely busy. His best times were with the young pediatric surgeons, who were eager to learn and had more time to relate. Bob says, “In my specialty it might be best to focus on regional hospitals and provincial hospitals, helping them to handle more and thereby help to relieve the overcrowding at the main centers.”

Dr. Jim Sandlin, DDS, and his wife Paula, from Atlanta, were also on their first trip to Vietnam. They explored possibilities and were able to link well with dental centers in two cities where they know they can make a good contribution. At these places Jim found dental professionals ready and eager to learn from him, but adds, “Many responded to me wanting to know more about the practical side of developing a dental practice and how to keep a good balance between work and their family. Young Vietnamese professionals are entrepreneurs also.” Jim has been staying in touch with several of his contacts via email since returning from Vietnam.

They won’t be very successful in any part without being successful as a whole person—an integrated, balanced whole. From such will come the builders of Vietnam.

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