The Power of Connection: Two Doctors, Two Sides of Planet, One Cause

“Capacity building” is believing in and creating the means to fulfill and express great potential. While it is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, it’s something  to which we and our project partner ASRI are deeply committed.

We’re excited to share two big developments in this area: Dr. Vina Wang, one of ASRI’s talented doctors, is currently in the US completing an observership at Yale and Stanford before returning to ASRI to take over the chief resident position from Dr. Nur. At the same time, Dr. Jesse Turner, an attending in internal medicine at UCSF and former volunteer at ASRI, is  on-site at  ASRI to begin his new gig: spending half the year as ASRI’s other chief medical officer to free up our founder Dr. Kinari Webb to focus on other aspects of the organization’s mission.

The other day, I had a chance to talk with Dr. Vina, Dr. Jesse, and Kari Malen, our volunteer director, about the importance of this exchange and what their work will mean for ASRI. The first half of our conversation follows; stay tuned for Part 2 on what this means to ASRI:


Dr. Vina arrives at Yale School of Medicine.

Vina: Yale is very cold, but I like it! I am staying at a professor’s house. Everyone here is very nice and welcoming, and many friends who have been to ASRI have checked in to see how I am doing. The first week was hard because I was always sleepy, but now I have gotten over the jet lag!

KH: What are you doing during your time in the United States?

Vina: I am doing an observership at Yale for two months, and then at Stanford for two months.  While I’m on the East Coast, I will go to New York for the SAEM (Society for Academic Emergency Medicine) conference. It’s a huge conference and doctors come from all over the United States, so I will get to meet many people working in emergency medicine!

KH: That’s wonderful! What are you learning during your observership? How does an observership work?

Vina: Right now I am shadowing a professor in the inpatient room and intensive care unit at Yale, so I see how they diagnose and treat patients. I am also learning how to interpret chest X-Ray from the radiologist here.  (Note: the ASRI clinic does not have an x-ray machine. ASRI doctors usually have to rely on other techniques to make their diagnoses, unless the patient has previously had x-rays taken at the closest hospital and brought the images with them.) I will also go rounding with residents in the hospital and at the VA outpatient clinic. After the SAEM conference I will also spend time in the ophthalmology department. This way, I will get an overview of the different departments and everything they do.

At Stanford, I will focus more on emergency medicine with Dr. Ewen. (Note: Dr. Ewen Wang is a former ASRI volunteer and mother of Ana Sofía and Lucia Amieva-Wang, the co-creators of  ASRI Kids. She was instrumental in setting up the Stanford observership.) Learning how they do emergency medicine at Stanford will be especially helpful at ASRI, because the clinic is on call for emergencies 24 hours a day.

KH: Can you tell me more about why these trips are important? Having seen Dr. Nur do a similar observership in 2012, how does this training help back at the ASRI clinic?

Vina: It is an opportunity to learn different ways to do and think about medicine, and helps us understand how the Yale students are used to working.

Dr. Vina with former ASRI volunteer Holly Eaton.

Dr. Vina with former ASRI volunteer Holly Eaton.

Jesse: During my time as a volunteer at ASRI, I also saw how important the relationship-building component of these trips is. If, for example, an ASRI doctor wants a consult on a diagnosis, they can send slides to a doctor at Yale because they became friends during the observership. The English immersion is also helpful, because it lets the ASRI doctors speak more comfortably and in-depth with volunteer physicians so everyone can work most effectively.

KH: Thanks! One last question for Vina: what are you most excited about during your trip?

Vina: I’m excited about the opportunity to learn more and more, meet attendings, and build community.

Read the second half of the conversation to learn more about Dr. Jesse's role at ASRI and how he will impact the quality of medical care and the volunteer program.


About Kelsey Hartman | View all posts by Kelsey Hartman

Kelsey is the Communications and Marketing Associate at Health In Harmony, based in Portland, OR.