Thanks to the generous support of the Mid-Atlantic Section of the American Urological Association, Dr. Fornati Bedell had an incredible experience in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia at State Central Hospital #1.

Dr. Bedell shares her experience:

“Unforgettable. Rewarding. Educational. These are just a few of the words that sum up my experience in Mongolia with the IVUmed Resident Scholar Program. Not only did I learn a great deal about reconstructive surgery, I was also inspired by the tireless work of my fellow IVUmed volunteers and our Mongolian counterparts. My fellow Resident Scholar, Tristan Juvet, and I started our week in Mongolia when we arrived at 1:00 AM in the morning. We were warmly greeted by one of the local urologists who, during the car ride, began to talk about his training and all the various countries he had travelled to in order to gain further experience in an effort to help his fellow Mongolians. He spoke of instruments they do not currently possess- instruments that we take for granted as urologists here in the US, such as lasers, flexible cystoscopies, and ureteroscopes.

“We arrived to a very nice hotel and went to sleep to get ready for a hard day of work the next day. Unfortunately, we woke up to news that the rest of the IVUmed volunteers were delayed and would not arrive in Mongolia until the evening. This presented Tristan and I with the opportunity to use this day to explore the amazing city of Ulaanbaatar. When the rest of the team arrived, we learned that their luggage did not arrive with them, including all the necessary instruments needed for the week. Undeterred, on Monday we hit the ground running. With two rooms running, we were able to complete four cases that day and triage and select all the patients we would be operating on for the week. Over the next four days, we completed 25 cases, averaging about six to seven cases a day, saving the last day for two cases and lectures. We operated on patients from the ages of seven to 71. The level of complexity was extensive. We performed more than six posterior urethroplasties, including one that required a pubectomy; a perineal urethrostomy; primary resection of urethral cancer with vaginal reconstruction; and multiple pediatric cases. Our days went until 9:00 PM sometimes, but I appreciated that everyone always kept a great attitude and motivated each other.

“The urologists and the staff in Mongolia were exceptional! They were very nice and welcoming from the moment we arrived in their country until the day we departed. Moreover, they were always willing to help and seemed genuinely grateful and excited to have us. There were days when we would operate into the evening, and they would perform cases well after we left the hospital. The nurses were equally outstanding and dedicated. The language barrier did not hinder us from completing great and successful cases together. They were highly adaptable and devoted to their duties. For example, they never took breaks for lunch, kept turnover extremely efficient, and stayed until we were done. I even picked up some of the local dialect to use when asking for instruments in the operating room.

“The IVUmed volunteers that I had the honor of working with were utterly amazing. Throughout the entire week, Dr. Metro, Dr. Gor, and Dr. Jun imparted me with a large amount of knowledge; as a result, I returned to my home institution with a lot more confidence in my abilities in reconstructive surgery.  Every time we had a case, the attendings would review the films with us, teaching us how to read various pathologies appropriately. They were very patient during the procedures and made sure we felt comfortable with every part of the case.  Furthermore, after the cases, they would sit down to answer any questions and took the time to draw out the procedure for us to make sure we understood.

“What made this trip even better was the camaraderie. I enjoyed every meal we had together, every outing we embarked on, and even the late evenings in the operating room. It appeared that everyone sincerely enjoyed being around each other and that made for an amazing trip. Overall, this trip was a treasured experience. I am truly grateful to the IVUmed team for this opportunity, and I am very excited about partaking in future endeavors with this wonderful organization.”