Gifts that Give a Life

Read about Dr. Bunawan’s life-transforming experience at Klinik ASRI and as a life-long learner of medicine. Health In Harmony thanks Yale New Haven Hospital/Global Health Program under the direction of: Dr. Asghar Rastegar; Laura Crawford of J&J Scholars; Board Member Kathleen White; and, Dr. Ewen Wang of Stanford University Medical School, and all the friends of HIH & ASRI who helped Nur out along the way.

Guest blog by Nur Chandra Bunawan, MD

Going to the USA for medicine was not on my list before. At first, I thought I will spend my entire life practicing just as an ordinary physician. Maybe I am one of the few people who think there is still hope for the Indonesian medical system; Who think poor and marginal people in remote areas have the same rights to access high quality health care as the rich people in the big city. My life really changed when I was introduced and impressed by the ASRI project, which provides high quality accessible health care for poor people in West Borneo. I decided to join this project 2 years ago. After 1 year joining, I am way more impressed. ASRI project not only aimed to save people and community lives, but also saving this planet.

This project gives a health care incentive system for the community in exchange for rain forest preservation. No one will be ever turned away because they don’t have money. They can pay with non cash option (using woven mats, seedling, manure, etc) or stretch the payment for 6 months. A best system for people who struggling every day, choosing between medicine or food to eat.

One year ago, Dr. Asghar Rastegar and Dr Kinari Webb offered me another life-changing experience: visiting one of the top Universities in the USA, Yale School of Medicine. I knew I would really regret if I didn’t take the opportunity. It was even beyond my imagination. Working and learning from the best persons in their field, developing curriculum for new ASRI doctors, and having rendezvous with all of my wonderful friends in USA. From medical side, being prepared to be familiar with Chest X-ray, ECG, and Ultrasound reading was really helpful in limited resources setting like Borneo.

I can’t tell you how many lives have been saved with our ECG and Ultrasound machine each day and I believe this number will increase even more after this training (Thanks also to our wonderful volunteer who donated the machine to us). Given the sophisticated and advanced medical technology in USA, it’s also really helpful to learn how to approach each patient from their chief complaint until we get the final diagnosis. Participating in Intern and Resident case reports every day also helped me learning how to teach and formulate diagnosis effectively to others. Another thing that really impressed me is how each doctor (from the attending to the medical student) communicates with the patient. I could see passion from each doctor and doctor-patient trust was built all the time.

Something that we in Indonesia still trying to improve every day. I was also given extra “bonuses” in the end of my trip: participating in one of the most famous Emergency Medicine conference in Denver and visiting Stanford School of Medicine. From non-medical side, I was really enjoying my adventure visiting different parts of USA: Fast-paced super busy New York City; Calm, green, and peaceful New Haven; Wonderful and Exotic retreat center with the HIH Board of Directors in Virginia; Cold and Bone-chilling Colorado; and Warm, beautiful, colour-changing trees in California.

I am sure my experience in the USA not only will change my entire life, but also all of my patients and all of the doctors in ASRI project. Thank you for Dr. Kinari Webb, Dr. Asghar Rastegar and Yale Global Health, Dr. Nancy Ewen Wang, ASRI project, and Health In Harmony for giving me courage to dream and help me make it true.


Update: Dr. Nur impressed Yale so much that he was awarded a Yale lectureship position! Now, he can be the primary teacher for the Yale medical students that volunteer at ASRI - a major milestone for the clinic.

About Nur Chandra Bunawan

Dr . Nur is an Indonesian doctor at the ASRI Clinic and is based in Sukadana, West Kalimantan where ASRI is located.


About Guest Blogger | View all posts by Guest Blogger