CRNAs Share Their Volunteering Experience

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Wonedwossen Goshu, CRNA, DNP

Mission Location:  Ethiopia

It was a labor of love but also one of intention and purpose. A team comprised of doctors, educators, CRNA’s and students from across the globe gathered at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this September to teach and learn about pain management in an unprecedented environment of hands on demonstration and cutting edge technology executed by pain management volunteer doctors, CRNA's, RN from the US and Australia. The Ultrasound Guided Regional Anesthesia & Acute Pain Workshop focused primarily on the pain management use of anesthesia and other types of pain management. Thus far an underutilized area of pain management in Ethiopia on the whole, anesthesia was a major draw for medical students and faculty alike.

If you were to ask me before we embarked on this adventure for which I was personally dedicated to help facilitate, I would have said that this mission-based endeavor to educate my fellow Ethiopians in the areas of modern medical practices has been a dream of mine for many years.  After attending the workshop by a leader in the industry, Dr. Krishna Boddu, during a pain management workshop I attended two years ago, I was immediately impressed with the team environment and the use of actual equipment such as ultrasound machines along with genuine cadavers, and live animals. Even more so, I was inspired to extend the same opportunity to my homeland of Ethiopia, where I left decades ago. As I have had the good fortune to work with Dr.  Boddu as an attendee of his program, I did not hesitate to set the wheels in motion for a collaborative effort to continue this type of education in other areas of need.  Together, we brought the workshop in Ethiopia and are thrilled with the outcome.

One of the major inspirations of the trip was to see and participate in the camaraderie of our team.  To witness everyone from different levels of experience and education collaborate on an even playing field for the benefit of others was awe inspiring.  Gone were the egos, the predispositions, the hierarchy of today’s US medical institutions – this was a gathering of humans for the benefit of humans and if I take nothing else away from our endeavor, I will carry that feeling of basic brotherhood, empathy and the meeting of minds to meet the needs of others. Sometimes this gets lost in big business, even though the medical field is one built upon helping others.  So my dream became a dream come true and it feels great to share it with my peers, the CRNA community, other educators, students and the public at large.

One topics covered in the workshop included primarily pain management. Classroom and a visually stimulating simulation environment offered the students the opportunity to practice what they were learning.  Short of being present at a surgery, this value of this type of training is immeasurable to the students in a way that is akin to physically walking through a house vs. taking a virtual tour. With the instruments, educators, and present and interacting with the students, the education level rises to a level that is uncommon in underdeveloped countries.  Thus, interest and attendance of the workshop was very good and the feedback has been equally positive.

Programs like Professor Boddu’s did not exist when I was a young man in Ethiopia searching for a future.  Seeing his passion and commitment to doing this right or not doing it at all, inspired me to make a personal commitment to this mission. I see how valuable such a program is to the healthcare providers and their patients. I am that much more vested in bringing the opportunity to other areas in Africa and beyond.  


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