Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Preparing for call

Part of a doctor’s life is being available for emergencies that come up any time of day or night. This week, I start taking call for surgery here at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. As with starting any new job or a position at a new hospital, the emotions inside are elevated: excitement, anxiety, fear of failure, and comfort in knowing I have excellent partners backing me up. I mentally go over my “on-call checklist”

1.     Doctor’s bag (containing stethoscope, surgery cap, headlight, etc) – check
2.     Keys to the Operating Theatre – check
3.     Working telephone – check
4.     Mission vehicle reservation for night on-call – check
5.     Driver’s training – check

Yes, the list looks a little different from my list in the U.S. Note the lack of a pager and the addition of #4 and #5. Due to security rules here on station, women are not allowed to walk alone at night. We must either drive a vehicle or be escorted by a male missionary or security guard. Most of the female doctors reserve a mission-owned vehicle for use while on-call.  
The mission vehicles are mostly land cruisers… manual transmission land cruisers. Prior to coming I never learned to drive a stick shift. Oh, and did I mention they drive on the left side of the road? Enter #5 – Driver’s training. Over the past two weeks, I’ve had 3 lessons with Tim (pictured below) and Karla Deuel, one of the awesome long-term missionary couples on station. They have guided me through the awkward starts, killing the engine many many times trying to figure out this clutch thing, and teaching me the essential off-road driving skills needed on the rural roads of PNG. Yesterday, Tim took me up a very rugged mountain dirt road with several little plank bridges. The view from Konduk church at the top was amazing, but I’m glad it wasn’t raining or muddy on the way back down. I’m happy to report that I have been deemed road ready, at least on station (we’ll leave the highway for another time). I even got a PNG driver’s license and feel quite official. Now, let’s just hope I don’t run into the mailroom in the middle of the night (it has been hit before by many a new driver). 

As far as surgery goes, I'm not too nervous because I have been in the OR quite a bit the past few days. On the other hand I am nervous that something might come in that I've never seen or treated before. But as I mentioned before, I have great back-up, a great team, and a great God who will never leave me or forsake me. I rest assured that He will see me through anything - no matter how hard. BTW, for those who were curious, my first case at Kudjip was a c-section for placenta previa. I got to help bring this little guy into the world. Seeing the wonder of new life never ceases to amaze me! 


  1. Driving stick can be a blast (when not on a cliffs edge )!
    I learned on the infamous exploding Pinto - wait, you're too young to remember them! You seem to have found a happy place! You are truly blessed! May God's hedge and armour surround and be upon you! Let me know if I can send you anything you might need or want from CNY!

  2. You are in God's hands doing God's work. He has prepared you well for this calling and He will guide you each day. So glad you have this opportunity to help these people. Be safe and praying for you. Dr B

  3. How fitting that your first case was a BIRTH!