Sorry this is a bit delayed secondary to my internet difficulties… At the beginning of September, I went to Guam for two nights to attend and speak at at regional conference on bleeding disorders.
I was asked to participate at the end of June when I was still in the thick of working as a clinical pediatric hematology/oncology fellow on the West Coast. Part of what has surprised me is how small the world truly is — at least that of pediatric hematology. Recently, I had a resident visit and I told her that the one thing I have found in my time working ‘internationally’ is that you realize that you may have so much more to offer than you originally thought. This is where I have to remind myself to not get a blown up head…
I like this quote. “Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit.“
Well, there isn’t much credit for doing work out here which is actually a good thing for me. If you are looking at this website because you are interested in doing work outside of the continental United States or somewhere under-resourced — know that you usually won’t get much credit except from the patients themselves.
But.. there are times when you do and when you do, it can be quite overwhelming which was part of my experience in Guam.
Already being asked to participate in this conference was overwhelming enough — and soon thereafter I found I would be the hematologist (and only physician) presenting on bleeding disorders and instructing other providers from Guam and some other Micronesian islands about what they need to know about the major bleeding disorders of von Willebrand’s disease and hemophilia. Welp… you just go ahead and say ‘yes’ was my attitude.
I was able to interface with some locals from Guam, and I realized I had a surprising leg up having worked with bleeding disorder patients here in Saipan before. I knew inherently some of the challenges they faced and knew to tailor my talk based on what was available and what wasn’t. The things that weren’t available weren’t surprising to me as opposed to someone who may not have experienced this before.
After spending some time working on the presentations I still felt quite unprepared, especially as I still wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I arrived. But, onto the plane I went.
Something about a hotel room just is so nice. It may have to do with keeping the air conditioning on at all times and hot water with decent water pressure — just pointing out some of the Saipan-world problems!
I reviewed my presentation on my balcony a few times and then decided to venture out to — shopping in Guam. Even though at that point I had only been in Saipan for a few weeks, I knew I may not be back in Guam soon so figured I’d at least look around.
I cheated on Saipan sunsets a bit and took in this one at Guam, and then went and ate a steak with copious amount of ice tea and mashed potatoes — since apparently that’s what my body was craving the night before a big talk and because something about being in Guam meant that I should go do that.
The next morning was a quick breakfast and down to the conference area of the hotel to prep my powerpoint and scope out the attendees. While I had an idea of who would attend (various providers mostly and eventually in the afternoon patients and family members), I still was wary of exactly who would be there.
A little part of me was still surprised at how legitimate of a conference this was. It did make me happy to see all the effort that was being put into educating the providers and making a good experience for the patients and their families though. Again, another reminder of what a few people can do even with limited resources!
There were a number of tables setup already with some providers who came early to enjoy the light breakfast and coffee. I got to meet a number of them before starting as I was also running around setting up my presentation.
More to come on my talk and the festivities to follow… and next steps I wanted to take/am taking after this meeting!