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Compassionate healthcare and purposeful innovation for Cambodia’s children

Students Become the Teachers at AHC

Education, Volunteering

For over 13 years, Rick Henker, a traveling nurse anaesthetist and professor from the University of Pittsburgh, has been teaching at AHC.

“I have probably visited AHC 40 to 50 times. I always love coming back and seeing the change in what the students and staff here are able to do.” Rick Henker

Rick facilitates training with AHC’s nurse anaesthetist team and nursing students from abroad. The training simulates scenarios involving cases like malignant hyperthermia, anaphylaxis, haemorrhage, local anaesthesia toxicity, and crisis team management – and is on par with international standards.

“So the malignant hyperthermia simulation we were doing today, my Pittsburgh team back home did yesterday,” says Rick. “We are doing the identical training back in the US as we are here at AHC.”

“We are having big discussions about these complex cases which you wouldn’t see years ago. We are pulling in experts from overseas. We are talking with the surgeons. We are talking with the patients families. It is more than the clinical piece, it is about taking a holistic approach.”

Rick Henker visiting AHC

Over its history, AHC has developed into an internationally recognised teaching hospital. Each year, hundreds of students, residents, interns, and government staff come through AHC’s doors to take part in the variety of training and courses on offer. These include courses like the three-year Paediatric Residency Programme, the Advanced Paediatric Life Support Course for students and government staff alike, and the Certified Paediatric Nursing programme.

“What I am thrilled about is the teaching that is happening here. Now, the staff here are doing the teaching. They are teaching the trainee. I have given them the tools to teach and that was always our aim: to have them do the teaching and I simply act as a facilitator.”

Through the support of Health Volunteers Overseas, AHC is able to connect with medical experts from all over the world. These experts share valuable knowledge and ideas of best practises, allowing AHC to improve their own practises, and ultimately improve the level of healthcare available at all levels of the Cambodian healthcare system.

The AHC nurse anaesthesist team were recognised by Health Volunteers Overseas this year with a Golden Apple Award, for partners who make extraordinary contribution to the sustainability and effectiveness of Health Volunteers Overseas.

Nurse anaesthesist training, AHC

“What I think has been a big step forward in Cambodia is the standards of practise the government has developed, especially the evaluation taking place. The evaluation of their care allows them to make improvements in the future to these practises and move forward,” says Rick.

“Do they have a long way to go? Yes they do. But what I have found is the influence of AHC encourages everybody else to develop at a higher level.”

Each year, Rick brings a group of nurse anaesthetist students from the University of Pittsburgh. AHC has formal partnerships with other medical education providers around the world, including Brown University, the University of Sydney, and the University of Health Science, who all send students to AHC for training.

“If AHC told me, ‘Sorry Rick we can’t have your students from Pittsburgh this year because we have too many students from Cambodia’, I would be thrilled. I would be disappointed because my Pitt students wouldn’t be coming with me. But on the other hand that’s the goal here. The goal is to make this a place where local Cambodians train local Cambodian students. That has always been really what I wanted to see here.”

Young patient under anaesthesia, AHC

Rick has plans to continue improving the level of healthcare available, and using AHC as a model, across the region and globally.

“I just came back from Laos Friends Hospital for Children. We have a curriculum set up there. I would like to replicate the same model here [at Laos Friends]. And get them to the same level where they can teach.”

Thanks to the continued support from volunteers like Rick, AHC has been able to develop into the leading paediatric educational provider it is today. Education remains a core function of AHC’s operations, and the impact it has on the healthcare system will be felt for generations to come.

“I also get the chance to represent the American Association of Nurse Anaesthetists (AANA) globally. When I present on the world stage, I use the example of AHC as ways we can improve healthcare in low-resource countries.”


Ways You Can Help

Ongoing support from donors and volunteers allows us to continue to deliver high quality medical care to children affected by disease and poverty in Cambodia.