Dr. Beatrice Im - Weill Bugando
Dr. Beatrice Im, an Assistant Professor at WCMC, is worked in Mwanza, Tanzania, at Weill Bugando between 2007 and 2009. Dr. Im worked with students, residents, and interns in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Bugando Medical Centre and played an important role in the mission to treat obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition that causes incontinence in women.
Dr. Im always wanted to work and live abroad at some point in her life. “One of the reasons I became a doctor was because medicine is a skill that can be used anywhere in the world.” As WCMC has well established international programs, Dr. Im, who wanted to use all of the skills she had acquired during residency, inquired around her department. “I was willing to go anywhere but I especially wanted to work in an underserved part of the world—I was led to Dr. Warren Johnson who was just in the beginning stages of establishing the Cornell - Bugando relationship.”
Dr. Im’s days were filled to the brim with clinical and teaching activities. Clinical activities included two days a week of major ward rounds, modeled after a British system, where attendings make teaching rounds with all of the residents and students. In addition, two full days are devoted each to operating and spending time seeing patients in the Ob/Gyn clinic. Teaching activities included weekly resident teaching sessions and regularly scheduled medical student lectures, as well as small group sessions for students who rotate through the Ob/Gyn department.
Dr. Im was not new to practicing and teaching medicine in conditions completely different from those in the United States, however. Her past experiences on a fistula repair team at the National Hospital in Niamey, Niger helped her develop a realistic perspective of limited-resource settings. A number of clinical and cultural adjustments had to be made for practicing medicine in Tanzania. “Some of the cases I encountered I’d only read about during my training: I saw one eclamptic patient during my residency and now I see at least 5 per week.” In addition, she had to adapt to new ways of thinking about patient-doctor relationships, and to be sensitive to patients' family relationships. Dr. Im also led the effort to build up the medical curriculum at Bugando. “At Bugando, one of my primary responsibilities…was to help build up the Ob/Gyn residency program and medical student curriculum...I am truly glad I had this unique opportunity to participate in starting a viable curriculum for a new medical school!”
As Dr. Im plans to continue with international medicine, her goals for Bugando were based in sustainability. “The purpose of our Cornell – Bugando relationship is…to help set good foundations for the education of local health care practitioners. Because in the end, outside help is just temporary and no matter how much good outside help brings in the short-term, those changes are not sustainable without well-trained, dedicated locals.”