The past two weeks we joined over 250 missionary doctors, dentists, nurses, and community health workers from all over the globe at Brankenhurst Conference center for the 2010 Christian Medical & Dental Association African Conference. Joining us were over 60 lecturers from Mayo, Hopkins, Brown, Cleveland Clinic and other institutions throughout the West.
The conference serves three purposes. The first is to provide Continuing Education such that missionary doctors can retain their current licenses and remain up-to-date in the ever changing fields of medicine in their particular specialities without having to leave Africa. Throughout the two weeks Sara and I received combined nearly 90 CE hours (more than enough to retain our current State License) and we completed ACLS certification (of which Sara beat me on the test 96 to 88...I'm humbled once again by my wife). Sixty percent of the lectures are geared toward Western standard of care.
The second purpose is to provide educational topics that are relevant to doctors often working in high need and resource poor areas. Just a sample of the lectures included were sustainability in mission hospitals, dental extractions for the non-dentist, management of snakebites, effects of mobility on missionary kids, Help! my patient has a syndrome, culture shock; coming and going, traveling with infants and children, prevention of maternal to child HIV infection, and mandibular fractures workshop. Forty percent of the lectures are geared toward care in a resource poor area.
The third purpose is to provide professional and spiritual encouragement by gathering together and sharing our common challenges we face as medical missionaries.
The dental missionary community is small group and not well connected. I met a Bush dentist in the Horn of Africa who works with portable equipment in 130 degree heat. I met a dentist in Senegal who in 3 years has developed a full dental curriculum and fully trained nurses to operate a dental clinic. Sara and I ate lunch with an Oral Surgeon and his wife who served as a missionary in the first Dental School in India and is now coordinates heavily with CMDA and Project Med Send. I was able to pepper Oral Surgeons from the UK and Ohio State who serve on Mercy Ships in East Africa with questions regarding treatment of mandibular tumors and fractures. Our lectures (who donate their time, and travel costs) included OMFS, endodontist, and prosthodontist.
Sara gathered with other OB/GYN post-residents Sharon and Christina to find a cardiologist to help with treatment of cardiac disease in the pregnant patient. They had a long lunch with an MFM doctor to talk about treating high-risk perinatal patients in the maternity ward. They were able to talk about the ethics and management of treating infertility with a REI doctor.
We were encouraged and challenged by our lecturers and missionary colleagues around the world. Thanks CMDA for an excellent conference.