Dr. Dennis’s role as the Regional Pacific Anaesthetic Fellow will be based in Suva, Fiji from May to August 2017 for three months of medical volunteering to train the next generation of Anaesthetists in the Pacific region.
Sharing his skill set between the Colonial War Memorial Hospital – the largest hospital in Fiji built in 1923 – and the Fiji National University, where Dr. Dennis will complete his non-clinical work, primarily educating junior doctors.
“I will be training the local Fijian Anaesthetic Doctors, in order to educate and improve their scientific knowledge and clinical skill,” says Dr. Millard. “The aim is to up-skill these doctors, and assist them in becoming Anaesthetic Specialists servicing the Pacific Region.”
This is a volunteer position organised through the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) offering an opportunity for Anaesthesia trainees to join a cross-cultural training experience that aims to promote Anaesthetic development in under developed regions.
ASA has identified our Pacific neighbours as a priority for educational assistance and collegial support. Over 75% of the substantial Overseas Development and Education Committee budget goes towards Pacific Anaesthesia and this support has seen significant achievements in their health care system.
The quality of health services varies significantly in Fiji. In the outer islands health care is not easily accessible and the nearest clinics often involve an expensive sea journey. With natural disasters rife in the region, poor sanitation systems and a lack of fresh water supplies can be a cause of severe sickness. There needs to be a very practical approach to their training to ensure they can cope in a range of situations and scenarios.
Every Anaesthetic registrar from Timor to Tahiti (including Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, PNG, Solomon islands) completes their Anaesthetic training through this program, helping train the next generation of Anaesthetists, who previously would have limited access to resources and mentors.
“One of the frustrations from volunteer work is the cessation of aid as soon as the team leaves the region. With this type of work educating fellow doctors I hope to perpetuate skills and medical training for the future. Feed a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for ever,” says Dr. Millard.
This is not the first time Dr. Dennis has explored the Pacific. He is an avid surfer and founding member and secretary to the group “Surfing Doctors”, a not-for-profit organisation aimed at providing emergency relief and educating other doctors in the field of Remote Emergency Aquatic Medicine. The group also dedicates itself to raising funds to help developing communities in places such as Java and the Solomon Islands with the provision of medical supplies and the establishment of medical centres to service local communities. www.surfingdoctors.com
“I anticipate visiting volunteer outreach clinics, such as the Namuga Hospital in the Solomon Islands, which is a hospital supported by The Surfing Doctors charity, a side passion of mine,” says Dr. Dennis.