JW: The department has been run by Dr. Yilkal Zemene for the last six years. He is a tireless and selfless leader who gives all the energy he has to make this department great. The hospital is run by a young, soft-spoken, and extremely insightful physician, Dr. Amanuel. He envisions Ayder Hospital to be the focal point for excellent subspecialty care for the country and has been an outspoken advocate for our goals. He understands the benefit of filling the educational/skill gaps of any program. The hospital is very large and is the finest healthcare option for a large area of northern Ethiopia. The pathology is broad and endless, creating a significant need for subspecialty surgery. Over the years, the otolaryngology department has gathered an impressive range of technology and equipment. Thus, there exist the means to treat the need.
Explore this issue:November 2018
After I met with the residents and understood better how otolaryngology was being taught, I identified some gaps that I thought I could help fill, even though I was fresh out of my pediatric otolaryngology fellowship training. By filling these gaps, the department would be better equipped to use their existing means to treat their population’s diverse needs.
ENTT: What benefit does working with the program bring to your life?
JW: It was the answer to this question that really made the decision to move to Mekelle an easy one. I moved here to benefit myself; although my friends and family laud my altruism, ultimately, this was a selfish decision. Not only did I want to fulfill my goals of maximizing my impact on the health of individuals and populations, I also wanted to become a better doctor. There were points during my medical training when I felt a little removed from the big picture of medicine, too focused on the intricacies of otolaryngology to see the broader scope of life-and-death decisions and quality of life. Additionally, the art of physical diagnosis fades, because the majority of patients referred to subspecialty surgeons reach us with a diagnosis in hand, often with the aid of multiple tests.
From my brief visit to Mekelle over a year ago, I realized practicing here would push me harder than ever before. Already, in just a few short months here, I’ve experienced the frustrations and sadness of patients and families I couldn’t help, as well as successes I never would have thought possible. Every day I am pushed out of my comfort zone, and every day I learn something new.