REI-Vietnam News

Something Old, Something New

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: Something Old, Something New
ENT and Urology Training

REI has been blessed with many high-quality medical professionals over the years. Certainly Dr. Craig is one of those, and also holds our current record for the number of trips with REI to Vietnam at 23 and counting. This April he served in E-Hospital and the National ENT Hospital in Hanoi for a week, and then in Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen Tri Phuong (NTP) hospital and Army Hospital 175 for a second week. His preferred method of service is to sit in on consultations, discuss possible approaches with his Vietnamese counterparts, and then join them in the operating room to advise or perform the decided-upon surgery (increasingly rarely, as the skills of the Vietnamese surgeons increase).

One highlight of this last trip for Dr. Craig was watching a young staff doctor at the ENT Hospital perform a surgical operation. As Dr. Craig tells it, “I commented that the young doctor approached the procedure much like I would have. His response was that he had learned from Dr. Truong Phong. Dr. Phong is a doctor who has visited our home in the States, and followed and observed me in my work. He told me that he tried to emulate how I did things, and then pass on what he has learned to his students. It was a very poignant example to me of how what we do impacts many more than those with whom we actually meet and work. And this was just one doctor treating one patient. I found it very encouraging.”

Having made one and sometimes two trips to Vietnam every year for more than 20 years, Dr. Craig has developed an extensive network of friendships. After a day’s work in the hospital, evenings often find him dining with old (and new) friends, sharing his life professionally, sharing his life personally. This is the heart of what we do.

Some months back Dr. Craig (4th from right above) asked his friend and colleague from South Dakota, Dr. Darlys (3rd from left above) to accompany him on the April trip. Dr. Darlys agreed to come. His specialty, Urology, was a new area for REI in Vietnam. Dr. Craig and our indefatigable Administrative Head in Hanoi, Mme. Lien, contacted friends at E-Hospital and Bach Mai, and also at NTP and Army Hospital 175, to investigate the possibilities of training in Urology. Launching a new discipline can be a challenge, requiring an understanding of the current professional level, identifying the institutions that are open to visitors, which have sufficient English speaking skills to make interactions beneficial, and finally, what their interests are.

Happily, the above hospitals were all eager to welcome Dr. Darlys, who, upon arrival, immediately settled into a comfortable working relationship with his new colleagues. He did an exceptional job of coaching with insight and tact, encouraging what he saw being done well, asking questions, sharing his own experiences in the operating room. He quickly won a hearing and laid the foundations of friendship. All in all it was a remarkably smooth and effective launch of a new specialty. We at REI are most appreciative of all the hard work done ahead of time by Mme. Lien and her team, our hospital friends, Dr. Craig, and of course Dr. Darlys’ sacrificial service on the ground.

So, something old, and something new, to further the building of the people of Vietnam to build their nation!

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