In addition to going on a medical mission trip, another excellent way to share your knowledge and experience is to host a foreign medical doctor for an educational rotation. Due to state and national regulations, this usually means an observational experience but if you do this in an interactive manner, it can provide an outstanding training opportunity.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting Francel Alexis, MD, for two weeks. For this blog, I asked him to reflect on the six weeks he spent in the United States on his two different rotations. Here are his thoughts.
A Haitian Orthopedic Resident Shares His Recent Training Experience In The U.S.
I am Francel Alexis, a fourth-year orthopedic resident at the State University Hospital (HUEH) in Haiti. It is a pleasure for me to share my recent educational experience in the U.S.
After being taught the Ponseti method for clubfoot in Haiti by Kaye Wilkins, MD, and Patrick DeHeer, DPM, and realizing how great the Haitian needs were with limited resources, I approached these doctors in order to help me improve my orthopedic knowledge. They both agreed to have me participate in observational rotations in their hospitals. During the months of May and June 2009 I had the opportunity and privilege to train with these physicians.
This was one of the best medical experiences a resident could have. I feel that I improved my knowledge in different areas such as pediatric orthopedics, foot surgery, wound care, joint arthroplasty, knee arthroscopy, clubfoot management, scoliosis, etc. I learned a lot from this experience and I really enjoyed my time in the U.S.
As doctors in Haiti, we always struggle to give better care to our patients because there are so many obstacles to overcome. It was an opportunity for me to have a better idea of the new technologies.
During my stay in San Antonio, Dr. Wilkins tried to teach me everything possible in pediatric orthopedics. I was able to attend all the orthopedic conferences and surgeries at the Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and the University Health System Hospital in San Antonio. The people there were very kind to me and were always available. It was a pleasure for me to meet David Green, MD, and Charles Rockwood, MD, the authors of Rockwood and Green’s Fractures in Adults (Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins), one of my favorite orthopedic books.
I also enjoyed the city, which has such nice historic places and tourist attractions (The Alamo, the Riverwalk, Tour of America, etc.).
After spending a beautiful month spent in Texas, another exciting training experience was waiting for me in Indiana. On May 31, 2009, I met Dr. DeHeer and received a warm welcome from his family.
I realized how exciting “foot surgery” was and how much there is to know about the foot. I was taught a lot of pearls in the management of the foot. I was shown the wound care center and I really liked that part of foot care. I also had the opportunity to work with a lot of nice orthopedic surgeons who were doing hip and knee arthroplasty, knee and shoulder arthroscopy, acromioplasty, etc.
I also liked the ambiance in the hospitals. In both Texas and Indiana, the hospitals were clean and neat, and had all the necessary equipment and personnel to ensure the well being of the patients. This experience helped me see things differently. The methodology was very simple and was explicitly used by the doctors. Some things that were a bit of a mystery initially were explained in the simplest terms. It was an experience of immeasurable magnitude.
Dr. DeHeer has been a wonderful teacher, mentor, guide and friend. He was always available for me and did everything to help me in my training experience. I would just like to thank him and his wife for their kindness and welcoming me into their home.
This was an outstanding rotation and I wish it could be expanded so all orthopedic residents from Haiti could benefit. I hope that such a program will become the rule and continue indefinitely to help the residents in Haiti.
Finally, I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity, my whole family for the support, and Dr. Wilkins and Dr. DeHeer for being my mentors.
Francel Alexis, MD
4th Year Orthopedic Resident at State University Hospital in HAITI
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org