BMET Nigeria: Hands-On Learning… From a Distance!

Written by Communications Intern Russ Walker

After starting their final session with two weeks of cardiology equipment training, our BMET students in Nigeria were all set to start their lessons on medical laboratories and the equipment they use. Ruthann Robinson, a Medical Laboratory Technologist with Electronics Engineering training and experience, was scheduled to teach this session. Ruthann has significant clinical experience  laboratory diagnostics, management, education, and training in the developing world. Currently, Ruthann works in practice management and change management in British Columbia, Canada, in addition to supporting  international development projects.

There was just one problem: the teacher couldn’t get to Nigeria! The visa requirements for Canadians are different than the requirements for our local US team: these international complications prevented Ruthann from obtaining a visa in time for her to be able to get to Nigeria to teach this interactive learning session. Together, Ruthann and Nigeria's BMET Coordinator Dr. Carmen Walker were able to find a creative solution: the students would get to handle and study the equipment while Ruthann monitored and answered questions via Skype. Students said, “It seems like she’s really here,” while they took quizzes and held class discussions.

Skype Class on Lab Equipment 2015

BMET Cambodia: Learning to Teach

Written by Communications Intern Russ Walker

In the past month, while our BMET students are working in their home hospitals gaining hands-on experience, two of the trainee teachers from our BMET Cambodia program have had the opportunity to begin conducting mentoring trips on their own. This new responsibility represents a significant step in their transition to the role of BMET Trainers. The two teachers, Hor Sophanna and Von Phearom, are working with BMET students across all three of our current cohorts, but are focusing on students from cohorts 2 and 3, whom they have been teaching in class. They’ve had to improve their skills rapidly as they are the senior technicians on their mentoring trips, especially in the areas of troubleshooting and repair, documentation and planning, and professional communication as they meet with hospital directors and management. According to BMET Cambodia Coordinator, Steve Goeby, Sophanna and Phearom are doing exceptionally well facing this new challenge, and their confidence in their ability to handle the many challenges of the work is growing every week. As the pictures show, their students are engaged in many important projects, led by teachers they believe in and trust.

Y1 Y3 students perform electrical safety tests           Y1 Y3 students repairing patient monitor

VCU EWH Chapter members win 3rd place at JHU Hackathon

Thanks to Brittany Allen, VCU BME Senior & SI Alum, for her contributions to this blog.

During the first weekend in October, Johns Hopkins University hosted MedHacks 2015. JHU brought together “technologists, scientists, healthcare professionals, and engineers to build amazing things together.” Their goal was to unite to develop their solutions to healthcare problems across the globe.

Out of the nearly 30 groups participating in JHU’s MedHacks, VCU’s EWH group won 3rd place! Jacob Jaminet, Sindora Baddam, and Brittany Allen comprised this group, along with an MD who joined the Chapter group. Brittany Allen writes, “We pitched an idea for allowing low-resource hospitals to request donations of particular medical devices via an automated text-messaging service.” You can see the website they developed here:

Tiffany Wong, another VCU EWH student and a Summer Institute Alumna, was in a group with JHU students and they received the Healthcare Alliance challenge award, which was awarded to a group that solved challenges related to identification and aid of medically vulnerable U.S. populations by incorporating digital connectivity into their solution.

copy Sindora Baddam Amar Gopinath Brittany Allen Jacob Jaminet at MedHacks 2015

Sindora Baddam, Amar Gopinath, Brittany Allen, & Jacob Jaminet at MedHacks 2015

VCU News: Biomedical engineering students repair medical equipment

This summer, five students from Virginia Commonwealth University participated in EWH's Summer Institute.

VCU's EWH Chapter sent three students to participate in Summer Institute in 2014. The new and rapidly growing Chapter has also brought STEM education to K-12 students in the Richmond area, and collaborated with the World Pediatrics Project on their work in Central America. Last year, VCU's EWH Chapter won Chapter of the Year.

For SI 2015, Anisa, Sindora, Veronica spent two months in Nicaragua, while Tiffany and Nitin went to Rwanda.

Anisa with a Sonogram in Nicaragua:                           Tiffany & her team cook dinner for their host family in Rwanda:

Anisa and the giant sonogram machine

  Photo Jun 21 12 04 45 PM




Help Wanted: Biomedical Equipment Technicians Needed to Save Lives

IntraHealth International recently invited EWH to write a guest blog on the importance of BMETs as health workers in developing countries. Here's what we had to say:

BMET Student Working On Ultrasound Video Card Oddar Meanchey

When government agencies and private organizations in advanced economies make generous donations of medical equipment to low-resource countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the donors intend to strengthen health care systems, reduce human suffering, and save lives.

But when assistance doesn’t take into account specific local conditions, the generosity doesn’t always live up to the donors’ good wishes.

Unfortunately, the absence of technical support in hospitals and clinics in the low-income world too often limits the usefulness of the donation.

The problem is simple: medical equipment manufactured in the US, Japan, and Europe is designed for use in clean, air-conditioned environments with steady electrical currents. Even in the best of conditions, equipment requires maintenance by skilled technicians and careful user-training.

#Japan pledges $2.9 billion to support countries pursuing universal health coverage | The Japan Times #UHC