Obstetrics and gynecology (Ob/Gyn) residents at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will soon be able to receive extra training abroad, thanks to a new international health elective that will be available in early 2021.
Participants will spend a month in Guyana alongside Ohio State attending physicians who have prior experience training Guyanese Ob/Gyn residents at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
A growing network of global health providers
Ohio State’s involvement with the largest hospital in Guyana springs from a unique effort started in Pittsburgh.
“During my residency at Magee-Womens Hospital, I met a gynecologist named Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, who was in charge of global health efforts at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center,” says Megan Quimper, MD, assistant professor in Ohio State’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “She created an international program called WONDOOR that aims to reduce maternal mortality rates in low-resource communities by training the physicians who live and work there.”
Dr. Quimper, who is an assistant professor – clinical at the College of Medicine, completed a monthlong rotation in Guyana as a third-year resident and found the experience so rewarding, she’s continued participating annually on behalf of Ohio State. Now, she and her colleague Emily Rosen, MD, an assistant professor – clinical at the College of Medicine, are leading the efforts to implement a formal global health rotation for their department’s residency program.
Physicians teaching physicians
During the team’s most recent trip to Guyana in October 2019, Drs. Quimper and Rosen spent 10 days training Ob/Gyn residents from GPHC. They spent their time giving lectures, teaching gynecologic surgery techniques, rounding on patients in the antepartum and labor and delivery units, and helping residents perform C-sections.
“As attendings, we get to train and supervise young physicians who have a special interest in women’s health,” Dr. Quimper says. “Our goal is for Ohio State residents to become part of the Georgetown Public Hospital residency team during their international rotation.”
Dr. Rosen notes that this format will facilitate an important exchange of knowledge and skills.
“Just as we can help teach surgical skills that Guyanese residents may not be familiar with, they teach us how to safely and creatively provide care in a resource-limited environment,” she says.
A strong, sustainable program
WONDOOR aims to provide hands-on training to new physicians while simultaneously addressing maternal morbidity and mortality in Guyana. Dr. Quimper says maternal mortality at GPHC has decreased significantly — and should continue to do so as this program and partnership continues to grow.
Just as Dr. Quimper helped expand the program to Ohio State, residents who participate in the new elective may someday inspire their own residents or colleagues to become involved in global health. Meanwhile, WONDOOR founder Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew continues to recruit even more participants. Among her new roles at Case Western School of Medicine and University Hospitals in Cleveland, she is now director of the global health program at MacDonald Women’s Hospital.
“I have no doubt this experience will help our participating residents to become more compassionate and skilled clinicians,” Dr. Rosen says. “And with the advent of technology and social media, we can connect with our peers anywhere in the world to share skills or ideas. Ultimately, these types of collaborations lead to better patient care.”