Gardner visits with friends from the Fulani tribe.
Practicing in Cameroon was a rewarding way to end my fourth year of medical school.
Mbingo receives patients from hundreds of kilometers around the hospital. The facility is a full-service referral hospital for the western provinces of Cameroon. Mbingo originally was started to treat Hansen’s disease (leprosy); 30 of the hospital’s 270 beds are still allocated to that purpose. Mbingo relies on medical staff from the United States and Europe to make up for a shortage of health care providers. The goal of its residency program is to bring residents from the government-run schools up to speed with modern medical practice. “I feel fortunate to have received my medical education in the United States,” said Gardner. Dr. Dennis Palmer, the medical director of Mbingo, knew Gardner was interested in obstetrics, so he had Gardner independently conducting rounds right away, and she ended up supervising the OB ward and the neonatal intensive care unit. The midwives on staff handled normal deliveries, while Gardner took care of the complicated cases of mothers who were experiencing preeclampsia, delivering twins, or undergoing C-sections. “Practicing in Cameroon was a rewarding way to end my fourth year of medical school,” said Gardner. Before returning to the United States, Gardner’s final gesture was to serve future patients of Mbingo. She reached out to her 2010 classmates and began a grassroots effort to collect their used PDAs for use by the resident
NORTH DAKOTA MEDICINE Fall 2010
physicians at Mbingo. The PDAs would help residents to treat their patients by providing point-of-care medical information, knowledge that isn’t easily accessible because Internet service is prohibitively slow or unavailable, and computers are scarce. “I had an incredible response. Every person I talked to wanted to donate,” said Gardner. On Match Day this year, Gardner was thrilled to learn her family medicine–rural track residency training would be with Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane and Colville, Washington, the nation’s first rural training track program, which provides a comprehensive educational experience and will give Gardner intensive practice in obstetrics. Her experience in Cameroon and her residency training will have her wellprepared to work in a rural area. “There are a lot of similarities between someone who is trained in a rural area and someone who works overseas. I think UND does a fantastic job with rural medical education. I got involved with the National Rural Health Association when I was at UND. I was a Student Caucus Board member for two years, and I saw other rural programs across the country, and I don’t think there is a better program out there than ROME,” said Gardner. Eventually, Gardner’s world journey will bring her home. “I do want to practice in rural North Dakota.”
North Dakota School of Medicine Magazine