ASH member and HVO volunteer Katherine Tarlock, MD (University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) talks about her work with physicians in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and sheds some light on the reasons she volunteers.
I had been interested in global health for a long time, and I was looking for a way to link that interest with hematology and oncology. I was also seeking ways to develop strong relationships with physicians and entire care teams at a volunteer site. Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) turned out to be a perfect fit. The first time that I went to Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, it was clear that the work I was taking part in, as well as my connection with the team on ground, would extend far beyond the few weeks I was there. HVO has committed to numerous sites around the world, and the organization values and invests in the partnerships with these hospitals. These relationships are a big part of what makes HVO successful, and the local sites share in that same deep sense of dedication. After my first visit, I was able to become an integral part of the partnership as well as the team on ground, and I have continued building upon that.
My involvement with HVO and my work among the staff at AHC has been one of the most rewarding chapters in my professional career. The AHC team is committed to improving care for their pediatric patients in Cambodia, and HVO has been a great collaborator for them. As an HVO volunteer, the work that you are participating in is more far-reaching than the short time you spend at a site. For example HVO helps the local staff of AHC build their hematology/oncology program in way that is sustainable and meaningful to them and the patients and families they serve. My experience at the site has also offered me insight into some of the opportunities and challenges around forging meaningful partnerships around the world. As a new member of the HVO Steering Committee, I am excited to work with the team on ensuring that our partnerships foster education and development of other local health care workers and programs. This is critical to improving the quality of care delivered. Additionally, each site has different strengths and challenges, and understanding these allows HVO to improve health care delivery in these areas and globally.
Regardless of where a person is born, they should have access to the best health care, and ASH’s global initiatives represent a steadfast step toward that goal. I would absolutely encourage others to consider participating in ASH’s global initiatives, including HVO, knowing that the work you do is part of a deeper legacy of improving hematology and oncology care around the world. Through volunteering with ASH and HVO, I have gained new colleagues and friends around the world. I have returned to AHC and to Cambodia several times, and I am excited to be going back again in a few months.
— Katherine Tarlock, MD, Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle, WA
Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO)
ASH partners with Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving global health through education, to bring invaluable consultation and training to hospitals in the developing world. Training provided by ASH members takes the form of rounds in the clinics, bedside consultations, classroom lectures, training in laboratories, and more. The objective is to develop sustainable improvement in the management of hematology patients at these institutions. To get involved and to learn more about HVO, visit www.hematology.org/hvo.
ASH is grateful to the members of the HVO Hematology Steering Committee for their service:
Shashikant Apte, MD, FRCPA
Theresa Coetzer, PhD
Sumit Gupta, MD
Leslie Kean, MD, PhD, Chair
Michael Linden, MD, PhD
Enrico Novelli, MD, MS
LoAnn Peterson, MD
Benjamin Rioux-Masse, MD, FRCPC
Zeba Singh, MD
Katherine Tarlock, MD