Off the Beaten Track: It's Not About You!
Steve Charles, who has operated in 25 different countries over 42 years, shares his guidelines for ophthalmologists traveling to remote locations
Steve Charles | | Quick Read
- Skill transfer and sharing the knowledge with colleagues is vital; they are your partners, so you need to be operating and seeing patients together, using equipment that local ophthalmologists will be using day to day
- Don’t just show local ophthalmologists how to perform procedures – tell them when to operate and, often more importantly, when not to operate. The focus should be on mainstream cases, not extreme surgery and overly complicated procedures
- Sustainable development is key – teach those colleagues who will be able to pass the knowledge on, and who can operate on large numbers of patients
- Learn how to set up and operate all equipment, including microscopes and video systems – it will expedite surgery, teach optimal use, and send a non-elitist message
- Put an emphasis on medical ethics and evidence-based medicine
- Use reliable equipment – cheap machines are a false economy
- Use disposables – they save money, provide consistent performance, and prevent infection and inflammation
- Make sure post-operative care is not being neglected
- Don’t use the trip as an opportunity to take pictures for building the image of your own practice
- Use appropriate terms: avoid talking about a “mission” or “mentoring” – you are sharing information with equals.
- Keep all political and religious views to yourself
- It’s best to avoid mixing holidays, sightseeing opportunities or shopping trips with outreach projects
- Avoid exchanging gifts – your money is better spent on equipment or supplies
- If possible, don’t bring your team with you – work with local healthcare professionals and share your knowledge with all the OR staff
- Bring books, handouts, copies of your talks on USB drives
- Try to introduce local ophthalmologists to your industry contacts to facilitate acquisition of the necessary equipment
- Organize further visits to the facility and invite your colleagues to visit your practice back home. Keep in touch via email and build long-lasting relationships
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