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An Incredible Learning Experience in Mongolia

Dr. Amy Lim shares her experience from Mongolia, which was sponsored by the Society of Urologic Oncology:

“I have always been interested in participating in a global health trip. However, unless your home institution has an established global health program, it is very difficult to find opportunities to volunteer and participate abroad as a resident. As a result of the generosity of the Society of Urologic Oncology’s sponsorship of an IVUmed resident scholar, I was able to fulfill a longtime aspiration of participating in a global health trip, which ultimately solidified my plans to make global health a part of my practice in the future.

“Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia with almost half of the entire population residing in the city. The host hospital was the First Central Hospital of Mongolia and was located within walking distance of our hotel. My mentor on the trip was Dr. John Colberg, a urologic oncologist who practices at Yale. This was the first time I had met Dr. Colberg and realized very quickly that I was lucky to have the opportunity to work with him.

“We started seeing patients in clinic the day after we landed. Prior to our arrival, a summary presentation of some of the patients we would be seeing that day was available for our review, which helped the day run efficiently. Every patient brought their paper medical record and their images for our review. By the end of the day we had scheduled 13 major oncology cases to be done over the next 4 days. The high yield learning cases for the local surgeons included partial nephrectomies and cystectomies with neobladders as these were rarely, if ever, done at this hospital.

“The next four days were spent operating all day. There were two first start rooms with Dr. Colberg starting in one room and a senior faculty member starting in the second room. The faculty crowded around Dr. Colberg as he took them through the cases. Once he finished in one room, he would check in on the next room to see how they were progressing and would scrub in and offer tips and suggestions. It was a very collaborative learning environment. I also had the opportunity to share what I have learned throughout residency with the staff and vice versa. In addition to our own scheduled cases, there were occasions where we were called to assist with other cases throughout the day. The days were long and physical, but very rewarding. Operating with their staff and Dr. Colberg is one of the highlights of my entire residency.

“The fifth day was used as an opportunity to explore Mongolia with a junior staff member. We saw the beautiful and vast countryside, an impressive 130ft tall status of Genghis Khan and were able to check out some famous Mongolian cashmere. Our farewell dinner was followed by karaoke and gave us the opportunity to really get to know the staff. Their generosity and kindness was overwhelming and left a lasting impression on me. They have continued to keep in touch keeping us updated on the pathology and post-operative course. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the SUO in supporting a resident scholar, the IVUmed program, the Department of Urology of the First Central Hospital of Mongolia and Dr. Colberg for making this incredible learning experience a possibility.”

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