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Renew Your Skills



The day following Haiti’s earthquake I received this message from Dr. Jim and Sandy Wilkins, who have served at Haiti’s Christianville Medical Clinic since 1999: “Our house fell down while we were in it. Our clinic building is half down. We worked for 24 hours straight, suturing and bracing fractures. 5 died here, 2 arrived paralyzed, many huge lacerations, limbs cut off. We are out of supplies and medicines. We are working on survival for the injured over the next few days. Keep praying!”


What if you were the Wilkins? Would you know what to do? The crisis in Haiti is a sharp reminder of both the precarious nature of human life and the enormous compassion of humankind. This crisis reminds us forcefully of the importance of skills. The most effective teams serving in Haiti today readied themselves well in advance for such catastrophes. The same fact holds true for healthcare professionals who serve people living in crisis everyday, whether in North America or nations like Haiti.


Maggie Higgins, daughter of INMED’s Board Member Ted Higgins, is quite intentional about learning such skills. She was studying under Dr Wilkins in Haiti when the earthquake struck. “Last night, a flood of people were showing up,” Maggie wrote. “I’ve been doing a lot of nasty wound irrigations and debris removal. I basically took out a cement block from a young girl’s head today. Luckily we have generators that are functioning and access to water. Even with all the pain and death that is going on – bodies have been piled up outside our clinics – I helped birth three babies in the midst of it all. I’m exhausted.” But in spite of her exhaustion, days later Maggie Higgins gave up her seat on a Coast Guard evacuation helicopter to let on a severely injured Haitian.


Now is the time to renew your skills on behalf of people in greatest need – to bear up and carry your dreams by acquiring the necessary competencies. These include competencies like managing malnutrition, unique injuries, and unusual infections; like acquiring cross-cultural skills, learning to train health volunteers, and to lead health initiatives. You may also come to realize that renewing your skills demands a change of heart as well – a personal journey from being self-centered toward becoming more softhearted.


This Spring INMED is offering remarkable opportunities to renew your skills. Our Diploma programs in International Medicine and International Public Health pair you up with a mentor like Dr. Wilkins who is providing healthcare in a developing nation. No training is more effective than working side-by-side with such role models! INMED’s International Public Health and International Medicine Hybrid Courses also provide the conceptual and academic background in these compelling fields.


The future is certain to contain both acute crises like Haiti’s and ongoing depravation in a multitude of poorer communities. Maggie Higgins continues taking steps so that, like the Wilkins, she will be best able to provide meaningful care. What steps will you take to express compassion and renew your skills on behalf of people in greatest need?

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