The 2018 trip to Mongolia is hurriedly coming to a close. We just returned from a 4-day trip to the countryside. We depart tomorrow evening for Florida!
Saturday was spent at Terelj National Park located east of the capital city (Ulanbataar) after touring the Chinggis Khan statue. In Terelj, we visited Turtle Rock and a Buddhist temple followed by climbing the hillside behind our ger camp. The views from atop the mountain were spectacular, serene and offered an opportunity to sit and think about various things in an amazing location.
On Sunday, we made our way to the west of Ulanbataar. Our first stop was a nomadic culture show. This was quite possibly my favorite part of the countryside. We had options of taking a short ride on a horse, camel or yak to the ger camps. Once at the gers, we were taken into various camps to see how they are constructed, how they process animal (yak) milk into various products. The vodka distilled from yak milk was interesting. And despite what Dr. Sander may tell you, the cheese curds are not so bad! We were able to see how they make dried meat and felt. They sang songs for us, took us for a spin on a yak-driven car, and allowed us to play with the lambs. It was certainly a highlight of this countryside trip.
After the nomadic show, we made our was to Khustain National Park. Here we sought out the very rare Przewalski horses which we found in two different locations within the park.
Monday, we made our way further west to the location of the capital of Mongolia around the 13th century (under the reign of Ogedei Kahn)…Kharkhorin. We toured the 2nd of three main Buddhist monasteries which were largely spared destruction by the Soviets during the 1930’s (Ganda being the other one we visited in Ulanbataar). We visited the city (or “sum”) museum.
We made our way back to the capital city today and will spend tomorrow touring the city prior to a late-night departure. Of note, we were very well-fed during our entire stay in Mongolia…I need to go to the gym now!
Mongolia is home to nearly 3 million people and has one of the lowest populations densities in the world. Sadly, almost one in three Mongolians lives in poverty. As our team has been preparing for the trip, we discussed the teaching hospital Wolfson Children’s Hospital partners with in Ulaanbaatar (the capital), and our various opportunities to serve clinically and teach. The resources and knowledge we can share will have a great impact on the system, and the opportunities to come along side and work with the local physicians in advancing their health care are endless. I am excited to be a part of the team this year and looking forward to many more trips to come.
Volunteering and doing missions work is what cemented my path into medicine, and has been a foundational part of my career. Missions’ work is what helped me decide on the specialty of pediatric emergency medicine. There is no pediatric emergency medicine post-graduate training for the physicians in Mongolia, which has personally made me all the more excited to teach and spend time at the hospital. As our relationship grows with the hospital, I am hoping a pediatric emergency medicine program may be birthed there someday. This way, medical doctors interested in emergency care will be able to continue their missions work into the most rural parts of the country.
-Dr. Samuel Stephenson
Before Dr. Sandler invited me to participate in this trip to the National Center for Maternal and Child Health in Mongolia, I knew little to nothing about Mongolia, its people and culture and most importantly Jonathan Soud. Shortly thereafter, I easily found lots of information about this great country, its rich history and amazing people. Much easier than an internet search on Mongolia was learning about Jonathan and the perpetual mark he left on this world. Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting him, Jonathan’s story lives in the hearts of not only his family and those who cared for him but in those, like me, who never had the opportunity to meet him.
William Oslo once said “The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head.” I am reminded every day in the ever evolving field of pathology that medicine truly is an art that we spend our lifetime practicing. We, neither as an individual nor as a group, will never have all the answers or know the entire story. But I am humbled to have this opportunity to share the latest diagnostic tools, molecular advancements and general pathology knowledge with my colleagues in Mongolia. I am excited to meet new friends halfway across the globe, develop everlasting relationships and keep alive the mission of Jonathan.
Hard to believe that we are once again off to Mongolia in a short 2 weeks; visit #6. I am most excited about the great team joining me on this trip: Dr. Brad Cheek, pediatric pathology; Dr. Samuel Stephenson, emergency medicine; Dr. Solange Benjamin-Thorpe, intensive care; Dr. Randy Bryant, cardiology and Dana Collins, RN. As we were unable to go last year, I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones, learning and teaching and seeing all the progress that has been made at the Children’s Hospital since our last visit. GlobalMD, one of our collaborators in China will also be delivering a new telemedicine platform while we are there which will further help in ongoing collaboration! As always thank you to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, the Soud family and our Jacksonville community for making this mission possible.
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