Educating Cambodia’s First Paediatric Surgeons
The majority of children in Cambodia still cannot access safe and affordable surgical and anaesthesia care when they need it. This lack of even the most basic surgical services, such as bone setting, can lead to preventable deaths or chronic disabilities.
Beyond treatment, opportunities in medical education for healthcare professionals in paediatric surgery are limited, and often of varying standards. Most professional health training in Cambodia has
traditionally been passive, teacher-centered and hierarchical, relying heavily on learning by rote,
with very little real world application.
AHC is one of a limited number of hospitals which offer both major and minor surgical treatments and specialised, hands-on education in paediatric surgery. Dr Prak Farrilend is currently training at AHC to become a specialised pediatric surgeon.
“I saw the need for surgeons in Cambodia. I wanted to help as much as I could. Training to become a pediatric surgeon allows me to do that.”Dr Prak Farrilend
Dr Farrilend recently completed his three-year medical residency programme at AHC. At the end of the programme, residents like Dr Farrilend are given the ability to further specialise – in intensive care, neonatology, neurology, respiratory, nephrology, or surgery. The residents learn a wide range of medical and non-medical skills, with considerable focus placed on compassionate care.
Dr Farrilend is trained and mentored by AHC’s two paediatric surgeons, Dr Vuthy and Dr Vanthy. Specialist volunteers who visit AHC also provide trainings and lectures, like Dr Brown, an orthopaedic surgeon at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine professor. Day-to-day training consists of assisting real-life surgical cases at AHC, learning through hands-on experience within the operating theatre and surgical wards. These cases expose residents to a range of major and minor surgeries, including surgical oncology, closed-heart surgery, cleft palate repair, orthopaedic and urology surgeries.
“I have assisted on a number of interesting cases, like congenital clubfoot. Previously we could not perform this surgery at AHC. But through volunteer experts teaching us we are now able to treat these children so they can walk again.”Dr Prak Farrilend
After his six years of paediatric surgical residency training at AHC, Dr Farrilend will be a fully qualified paediatric surgeon, performing surgeries independently, and one day, training residents of his own. He plans to stay at AHC and join the small yet critical surgical team, as well as continuing his education. He plans to work towards a Diploma of Child Health, offered online by the University of Sydney.
“Medicine is about constantly learning. At AHC staff are always sharing knowledge with each other. There are many ways for me to learn with experts visiting and education being promoted.”Dr Prak Farrilend