Medical Education (GME)

Published on September 7th, 2018

St. Luke’s Residents Take Top Prize at the Academic International Medicine Conference

Imagine being in labor and having to send a family member out to purchase a suturing kit. Or going to an emergency room for deep cut, but having to bring your own gauze.

In the hospitals of Gambia, Africa’s smallest country, it’s BYOS (bring your own supplies) for individuals who cannot afford the expense of private clinics.

St. Luke’s third year family medicine resident, Naffie Ceesay, MD, got quite the eye-opening experience during a volunteer mission. So much so, that it inspired her to recruit fellow family medicine resident Thomas Wojda, MD to help turn her experience into a research project. Their poster, which advocates for the training of family physicians abroad, took top honors at the third annual Academic International Medicine Congress in Brooklyn, NY.

“I knew conditions in Africa would be starkly different than here in America,” stated Dr. Ceesay. “But it was incredibly humbling and sobering to witness it firsthand.”

Prior to her journey, Dr. Ceesay and fellow residents worked to gather a multitude of supplies, including blood pressure cuffs, bandages, saline, scalpels, antibiotics and common medications such as pain relievers and asthma inhalers. St. Luke’s Warren Campus donated a large majority of the supplies – with Brother’s Brother Foundation and Americares contributing as well.

During her trip, she saw nearly 80 patients a day and encountered a wide range of diseases and illnesses, both common and unique. The supplies she sent over were incredibly valuable and distributed almost immediately.

Dr. Ceesay notes that her experience helped hone her clinical and leadership skills, as labs and imaging results were limited if not non-existent. Additionally, practicing in this setting helped build confidence in practicing independently. “Dr. Wojda and I feel that a global rotation would be an excellent addition to any family medicine residency program,” she stated. “I gained as much as I gave.”

Drs. Ceesay and Wojda’s poster beat out other entries from residents across the nation, including entries from schools like Columbia, Temple, Cornell, Rutgers and Harvard.

Photo Caption: Dr. Ceesay with Gambian patient.

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