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Got Questions? The Students Have Answers

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

By Patsy Kent, Associate Country Leader, Laos

Surgeons and residents interact discussing patients’ cases

“Listen to what happened today,” Craig said to Patsy when he came home for lunch that day. “We talked about chest trauma. One of the residents gave an excellent presentation of a patient with a chest injury. The surgeons and residents talked about it for a while and then I started asking them questions. Remember when I was a resident? Those years came back to me, being on call and seeing so much trauma every third night for five years in the ER. We just had so many thoracic patients.

“It was really fun to bring out these different scenarios for these guys to think about. I asked them questions like ‘How can you tell whether it’s blood or air that is outside the lung in the chest?’ Then I tapped on a half empty water bottle – over the water the sound was dull; over the air it was like a drum. I told them this is how you can know what size of chest tube to put in.

“And then, remember when we were in college meeting in small groups? The leader asked questions, good questions that made us think. Since we had to really think about the information, we remembered it. You know, it was like that in medical school and residency too. The professors asked questions, putting the focus on the learner. But medicine isn’t taught that way everywhere. As much as possible, we really want to do that here, for our students to answer questions, using the knowledge they have to try to figure things out.

“I really enjoyed listening to the residents talk so excitedly among themselves in their own language. I already knew they were smart; they have to be to get into this program in the capital city. You know, it seems like the more Lao language I learn, the smarter they get!”

Sometimes outings are just the thing to add some variety to language learning. Some months ago, ladies in Patsy’s English class at the Children’s Hospital went on an excursion for lunch and to an organic farmer’s market, practicing English conversation along the way.

Dr. Craig with Dr. Touy presenting the newly translated pediatric anesthesiology book

Periodically Lao physicians go abroad for advanced training. Dr. Touy, the only pediatric anesthesiologist at the National Children’s Hospital, recently returned from South Korea. While there he and two colleagues translated a book on pediatric anesthesiology from English into Lao. He teaches other anesthesiologists from around Laos, and now he has an excellent resource that they can read and understand in their own language. Dr. Craig and Dr. Touy have been meeting together to study English for many years - the translation of this important medical book is a significant achievement for Dr. Touy.

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