Residents Inspired by India Experience

Left to Right: Katie Schwartz (Health and Wellness Educator with Nursing Background); Andrew Thliveris, MD, PhD (UW Staff); Ashley Lundin, MD (Chief Resident); Daniel Knoch, MD (UW Staff); Pimkwan Jaru-Ampornpan, MD (Senior Resident)

A note from our Chief Resident:

The first UW Ophthalmology Elective International Rotation was a huge success! From February 6 through 20, senior resident Dr. Pimkwan Jaru-Ampornpan and I as well as two attending surgeons, Drs. Andrew Thliveris and Daniel Knoch, traveled to India with the goal of learning how to perform/teach extracapsular cataract surgery, a skill that is rarely performed in the United States. What we gained in India was much more than just surgical skills!

India is a country rich in culture and diversity. Our brief introduction into India’s languages, religions, architecture, food, and customs was an enlightening experience. We experienced local shopping markets where many thousands of people gather daily to purchase homegrown food for their families as well as barter for other goods. India is home to over 100 languages with thousands of indigenous dialects. We learned how to say a few words in Hindi including Namaste, “hello” and Dhanyawad (or Dhanyavad), “thank you.” The famous Indian head wobble was fascinating to witness. This unique gesture is used for everything from “OK” and “I understand” to “yes” and “thank you”. While touring, we saw several Indian historical monuments deeply rooted in religious history and learned that India is the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A favorite monument was the Taj Mahal in Agra. This monument is an absolutely awe-inspiring vision with tremendous history behind it. Indian cuisine was a real treat that we found to be as diverse and varied as its people. We enjoyed the many Indian spices and especially appreciated chicken tikka masala.

One of the most striking features of India is the kindness and hospitality of its citizens. Indian hospitality is based on the principle Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning “the guest is God.” Our group felt welcomed and our services appreciated throughout our stay.

Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital (SCEH) was the primary destination for our trip and was where we spent the majority of our time. We worked at the hospital 6 days/week and were given the opportunity to see patients in subspecialty clinics, outreach clinics, and in the operating room. Indian consultants (attending surgeons) and our UW attending surgeons supervised as we learned how to perform extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) surgery. We each performed 16 of these surgeries while at SCEH and are extremely grateful for this learning opportunity! The commitment to excellence and dedication to teaching at SCEH was evident, and we are so thankful to have learned from their experts. While at SCEH, we also honed our newly learned surgical skills in their wet lab and presented at their daily grand rounds conference.

Words cannot express how grateful Dr. Jaru-Ampornpan and I are for this opportunity to experience India and expand our ophthalmic knowledge! Thank you to Dr. Terri Young and the University of Wisconsin Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Dr. Suresh Chandra, and the University of Wisconsin Division of International Ophthalmology, and the University of Wisconsin Graduate Medical Education Department for making this elective possible. A very special thank you to Dr. Andrew Thliveris and Dr. Daniel Knoch for all their hard work in making this long-awaited dream a reality and for their dedication to education. Truly, this was the experience of a lifetime!

Dhanyawad, “thank you,”

Ashley Lundin, MD Chief Resident, University of Wisconsin Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences