It’s a tragedy when a child needs surgery and is unable to get it. Fortunately, there are people who are working hard to help these children. Pediatric surgeon Dr. Mark Holterman is one of those people. He supports the amazing work done by the International Pediatric Specialists Alliance for the Children of Vietnam (IPSAC Vietnam). This charitable organization is dedicated to making excellent pediatric surgery available to all the children in Vietnam who need it. The organization has already accomplished a great deal, and it plans to do even more in the future.
IPSAC Vietnam relies on donors and volunteers to help make its vision a reality. Volunteers work with hospitals and medical schools in Vietnam. Dr. Mark Holterman is a long-time volunteer with the organization, and he has been a team member on all of the organization’s service trips, which provide training, patient care, and collaborative surgery with Vietnamese medical professionals. Dr. Holterman urges anyone who is interested in the group’s mission to consider getting involved.
There are several roles that volunteers may play. They may work directly with patients. They may share their knowledge with professionals in pediatric hospitals and with students attending medical schools and nursing schools by giving lectures, leading interactive sessions, or providing other forms of training. They may help hospitals acquire needed equipment. Some volunteers work with Vietnamese professionals to help identify children who don’t have access to surgery and to find ways to bring those children to medical centers where they can be properly evaluated and treated. Some work on finding new ways to provide access for children who are underserved.
If you are interested in volunteering, IPSAC Vietnam can help you apply for a visa. You will need a passport that is valid for at least six months after the end of your volunteer trip. You will also need a copy of your professional license and your resume if you plan to do volunteer work as a medical professional working directly with patients. The organization recommends that you purchase medical travel insurance.
Plan to arrive no later than two days before your volunteer term starts. The day before you start and the day after you end, IPSAC Vietnam will have a debriefing session for your team.
Does this interest you? Great! To get started, send an email to [email protected] to request more information.
Past volunteers have come from different backgrounds. They included a pediatric surgery nurse, several pediatric anesthesiologists, several pediatric urologists, a general surgery resident, a pediatric ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician, and a journalist. Many, but not all, were medical school professors (OSFHealthcare).
For Dr. Mark Holterman, supporting IPSAC Vietnam is a natural outgrowth of his professional and philanthropic interests. He is a pediatric surgeon and an associate professor of surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria. He has a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and both a medical degree and a doctoral degree from the University of Virginia. His current research focuses on the frontiers of medicine. He researches new treatments for cancer, stem cell treatments, regenerative medicine, and treatments for childhood obesity.
He is passionate about improving children’s access to surgery. He was a team member on all six of IPSAC Vietnam’s service trips. His wife, Ai-Xuan Holterman, MD, who is also a pediatric surgeon, was a member of the service trips as well. On the most recent trip, she was the group leader.
These service trips were very productive. The teams’ accomplishments include —
- Streamlining patient management protocols in a pediatric oncology hospital,
- Teaching courses on ENT to local doctors,
- Working with Vietnamese surgeons to perform complex surgery, and
- Meeting with hospital, academic, and religious leaders to discuss future collaborations.
That is just a small sampling of the work that the volunteer teams do in Vietnam. Medical volunteers from a variety of disciplines performed collaborative surgery with their Vietnamese counterparts and gave guest lectures to their colleagues. The disciplines involved included general pediatric surgery, urology, ENT, pharmacy, nursing, and anesthesia. If you are interested in becoming a medical member of a future volunteer team, keep in mind that all pediatric specialties are useful and appreciated.
IPSAC Vietnam volunteer teams have also provided hospital libraries with textbooks and professional journals. They have presented equipment donated by American surgical supply companies. They have gone on surgical rounds. They have conducted workshops for nurses. They have provided continuity by following up on surgery and meetings conducted on prior service trips.
How You Can Help
If you want to help and are unable to volunteer, IPSAC Vietnam gratefully accepts financial donations. These are used to buy equipment for hospitals and for other expenses.
The next service team will go to Vietnam in March 2018. They will work on enhancing current programs as well as launching new ones. Medical volunteers will go to several hospitals in different areas of the country. If you think you might want to participate, please get in touch with IPSAC Vietnam to find out more.
Teams travel throughout the country. The training, equipment, and other help the teams provide is especially needed in medical centers that are in isolated areas. The experience can also be life-changing for the volunteers, as Dr. Holterman and the other team members have discovered. Volunteering with IPSAC Vietnam provides a rare opportunity to provide direct service that has a significant impact on the lives of children. It’s no wonder that Dr. Holterman keeps on returning to Vietnam on service team trips. The experience is uniquely rewarding.
The work done by IPSAC Vietnam is saving lives. The organization and its volunteers have made it possible for more children to get the surgical care they need. They believe that no child should suffer or die because of lack of access to health care. They have accomplished much, but more still needs to be done. This is a worthy organization that needs your help. Consider joining Dr. Mark Holterman in making the future brighter for the children of Vietnam. There are several ways that you can help support the work of this worthy organization. If you get in touch with them, they will be glad to tell you more.
For more information on Dr. Mark Holterman, visit our other article.