Global telementoring has benefits on both sides of the call
When she’s not seeing patients, Christina Borsari, M.D., loves to share her knowledge and experiences to help physicians on the other side of the world.
“I feel a sense of fulfillment that can only be achieved by helping others, particularly those who may be less fortunate in terms of medical resource availability and access to health care,” says Dr. Borsari, a Providence obstetrician/gynecologist based in Fullerton, Calif. “I feel a sense of fraternity with other providers who are also involved in the same type of care.”
Dr. Borsari has contributed time to global health programs for about six years. Recently, she joined 10 other Providence physicians who volunteer an hour or more each month virtually mentoring health care professionals in the Opoji Kingdom in Nigeria.
Sharing knowledge across oceans
In 2021, Providence joined World Telehealth Initiative to offer these telementoring services in Nigeria. Providence has a history of serving vulnerable global populations; this partnership now enables caregivers to help strengthen international health systems by sharing their knowledge from home.
“Providence has been an incredible partner – I love this model that we are piloting together,” says Sharon Allen, CEO of WTI, which is operating 33 telehealth programs in 16 countries. “We have doctors assisting communities oceans away from them, and it’s a win-win for everyone.”
"Their clinic [in Nigeria] had been closed for years. When we announced this program, the Opoji community painted the clinic and put in new windows. They're ecstatic that it's open."
- Sharon Allen, CEO of World Telehealth Initiative
She also points out the professional, fiscal and sustainability advantages. “We’re tapping into thousands of providers who want to give, but they don’t have more than an hour or the ability to travel long-distance.”
In Nigeria, the local team is using a donated robotic device. Besides enabling two-way communication for medical consultations, it allows Providence clinicians to hear a heartbeat through a stethoscope on the patient’s chest and see and hear the images of an ultrasound scan.
The reward far outweighs time spent
For Providence clinicians, this opportunity allows them to think differently about clinical challenges. It’s also helped reduce fatigue, says Carrie Schonwald, program director of global programs for global and domestic engagement at Providence.
“I’ve been so moved by the enthusiasm of everyone who has volunteered,” Schonwald says. “They’re saying ‘thank you for this opportunity’ even amid the burnout from the pandemic.”
“Professionally, sharing knowledge and experience always feels special and gives one a feeling of accomplishment in a way that nothing material or tangible can."
- Christina Borsari, M.D., Providence, Fullerton, Calif.
Providence recently announced another telementoring partnership with WTI in Longisa, Kenya. Already, 13 physicians from several specialties have applied to volunteer.
“The reward for your service far outweighs the minimal time offering,” says Dr. Borsari. “Connecting with people across the world real-time is a miracle of modern technology. We should use this technology to the fullest potential, particularly to unify Western caregivers with those in other parts of the world.”