More From Cambodia: Teaching, and Learning

Editor’s note: Nandini Bakshi, MD, is a neurologist at Kaiser Permanente Antioch and Walnut Creek (Calif. ) Medical Centers. She has now returned from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she was serving with the Kaiser Global Health Program on behalf of the Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope in Phnom Penh. This is her second and final dispatch.

Cambodia, Day 12

I have been busy teaching Neurology to the medical students at Preah Kossamak Hospital and the staff (mostly primary care physicians) at Sihanouk Hope Hospital. My routine has been 7:30 – 8 a.m.  rounds/ informal case presentations and teaching at Sihanouk. There are usually about 20 physicians that attend the morning session. Then I head off to Kossamak Hospital to teach medical students – I have covered most of the essential Neurology topics with the medical students in the form of lectures and have managed to cover basic neuroanatomy. Medical students spend 6 years in training after which they do an internship of 1-2 years. The Thursday lecture is especially well attended- one thing they share in common with students and residents in the United States is that free food improves attendance! Thursday lectures have the added attraction of lunch provided by a pharmaceutical drug rep- and so yesterday I had about 100 medical students attend  with standing room only. In the afternoons I go back to Sihanouk Hospital and teach from 1:30 to 3 pm.

In between all this I have had time to read, swim in the afternoons
and relax before I head back home.

Cambodians are very gentle, hospitable people. They are very appreciative of the help they get from Japan and the United States. The hot-button issue in the local news these past few days has been the trial of the Khmer Rouge regime leaders- most of them in their late 70’s. It is hard to imagine that people from such a peaceful culture were capable of such atrocities. I have not visited the
Killing Fields- I spared myself from that tourist “attraction”. Visiting the Tuol Sleng prison and genocide museum was was more than I could stomach. The prison was a school building that was used to torture an estimated 17,000 innocent people including men, women and children from 1975 to 1979.

My overall impression of Cambodian health care is that the country has
a long way to go in order to catch up with the rest of Asia, but the medical professionals are young, hopeful and hard-working.

I have attached some pictures- with the medical students and Dr Hok at
Preah Kossamak and with the local vendors. The girls with the hats said they do attend school – they sell their wares after school and on holidays.

Nandini Bakshi, M.D.
Kaiser Permanente Antioch and Walnut Creek Medical Centers

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s