Recently, Dr. Chileshe Mboni, pediatric ophthalmologist, from ORBIS’s partner Kitwe Eye Hospital had the opportunity to visit and work in Indiana with Dr. Daniel Neely, ORBIS Volunteer Faculty member and faculty at Riley Children’s Hospital and Indiana University. Dr. Mboni and Dr. Neely have formed a long-term mentoring relationship following their meeting during ORBIS’s Flying Eye Hospital program in Zambia last year. Dr. Neely will be returning to Kitwe early 2014.
Not to get too technical to the non-ophthalmologists reading this – but the best part for me was being able to observe a few very specific surgical techniques that I had not seen before and to consolidate on other techniques that I haven’t had much exposure to before. It’s exciting to me that I’m always learning, always improving. Outside of the hospital, I had a great time with Dr. Neely. He took me on his boat, which was a first time for me on the water and I really enjoyed it!
How was working with Dr. Dan Neely in his hospital rather than in yours?
Dr. Neely has spent time in my hospital in Kitwe so it was great to spend time with him in his backyard. It was interesting to me that most of the time with the patient is spent on talking to the patients and the parents about the condition they have and the progress they are making. As we have a much smaller staff my time is often diverted with other duties that are performed by the nurses and other staff in the Riley team. It was surprising to learn how much the parents seemed to know about the conditions of their children unlike the typical parent back in Zambia.
What have you gained from the observership?
A chance to learn from experienced specialists like Dr. Neely and others in their own hospital.
Most of the procedures were familiar. The techniques used may have slightly differed, but I learned different ways of carrying out the same procedures. Traveling to the States has given me many new skills and perspectives; it has been interesting to obverse how we are different but how we face many of the same challenges.
Do you foresee any challenges in implementing what you have observed?
Not many. Most of the instruments and consumables needed are available. We have been working with the ORBIS for 3 years now and we have much of the equipment. Improving the number and quality staff in the clinic and theatre is an ongoing process. This will help free my time to deal just with the patients and their parents and will greatly help the flow of the clinic. I’d really like us to improve our process for patient records. We will need to come up with the sheet which can be used for all the children, so that we can standardize patient information collection.
From your point of view, what is the value of these kinds of observership and would you encourage others to do them? The observership is very important in exposing us to a new way of doing things. It also helps to clarify, confirm and most of the time improve on what you have been practicing, giving you more confidence as you come back to your practice.