|Peds eye specialist welcomes experiences
by Cindy Abole
Soon Naeem Khan, M.D., will see his wife and five children again after
a three-month absence that has placed him 7,450 miles away from his
home in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Dr. Naeem Khan,
second from left, receives a certificate from Dr. Ed Wilson, for
completing a three-month training fellowship at MUSC. Joining them are
opthalmologists Drs. Narendra Patel and Richard Saunders.
The absence has been worth it because he’s used the time to complete a
training fellowship at MUSC’s Albert Florens Storm Eye Institute (SEI)
to learn the latest skills to improve vision care for Pakistani
children. When he returns to northern Pakistan in mid-July, he will be
passing along the new skills he’s learned to his colleagues and his
“Many children in Pakistan need good quality eye care,” said Khan,
explaining the wide range of eye-care needs among the children who face
a fractured health care system with few pediatric eye specialists.
According to Khan, Pakistan’s national population is at 200 million
people with only 500 trained, general ophthalmologists and fewer than
100 pediatric ophthalmologists to care for a growing pediatric
population. A continued problem is that the country’s general
ophthalmologists are not properly trained to assess pediatric patients
and recognize issues. “If they’re not properly trained, we can’t
adequately serve the needs of children.”
Khan, an experienced pediatric ophthalmologist and surgeon, came to
MUSC via a Fred Hollows Foundation training fellowship from March to
June. The foundation, an international, non-profit organization, is
named after a skilled Australian ophthalmologist, humanitarian and
advocate. It is dedicated to restoring the eyesight of people living in
developing countries around the world.
Khan’s connection with SEI began in 2007 while attending an
international medical education training conference in Nepal. Among the
speakers was SEI’s Richard A. Saunders, M.D., professor of
ophthalmology and pediatric ophthalmologist. Khan spoke to him and
later contacted Ed Wilson, M.D., Pierre Gautier Jenkins professor and
chair and SEI director. Khan believed that with advanced training, he
could learn new skills and techniques that could prevent and treat
blindness and other eye diseases while making a difference in the lives
of children from his homeland.
From Khan’s perspective, SEI provides an ideal training environment for
international specialists like him thanks to the leadership and support
of MUSC’s team of eye specialists, researchers and Wilson, who is a
world-renowned clinician, surgeon and educator. Wilson and other
colleagues regularly lecture and speak at professional and medical
educational conferences throughout the world. Through Wilson’s
leadership, SEI has hosted international ophthalmology training with
fellows through partnerships with ORBIS International and Addis Ababa
University’s Department of Ophthalmology in Ethiopia.
“Sharing knowledge is an important part of MUSC’s and SEI’s academic
mission,” said Wilson. “For SEI faculty, the most productive form of
transfer of knowledge and skills is to ‘teach the teachers.’ If we can
reach the opinion leaders and doctors who will be training and
influencing others, the ripple effect would be enormous.”
Khan worked alongside physicians, house staff, nurses, research faculty
and other members of SEI’s team observing and learning from them. He
shadowed Wilson, Saunders and others learning time-saving and efficient
techniques, especially in the area of pediatric cataract implants and
strabismus surgery (crossed eyes) and other clinical practices that can
improve a patient’s overall experience and outcome.
“Seeing firsthand the results of procedures and processes is necessary
before a visiting doctor is convinced to incorporate new things into
his home routine. That kind of experience is not possible at a CME
(continuing medical education) class–it occurs only by direct
observation, questioning, reading and more observation and questioning.
We hope that we can continue to consult with Dr. Khan long after he
returns to his home country. We are appreciative of the Fred Hollows
Foundation which supported this training model and funded Dr. Khan’s
three-month visit with us,” Wilson said.
The Fred Hollows Foundation has already made a significant impact in
Pakistan and many developing countries. Since 2003, the foundation has
provided clinical care services, training infrastructure support and
equipment for medical personnel.
Khan is eager to share his knowledge and experiences with colleagues
and his patients at Haytabad Medical Complex, a 1,000-bed government
hospital, where he practices. Although Khan will miss his newfound
friends from MUSC, he will be happy to reunite with wife, Nasreen Laiq,
M.D., who is a cardio-anesthesiologist, and his family.
Khan completed his medical training in Pakistan, graduating from Khyber
Medical College and the University of Peshawar in 1996. He completed
his ophthalmology training at the College of Physicians & Surgeons
in Karachi and an additional fellowship with the LV Prasad Eye
Institute in India.
As part of his experience, Khan submitted monthly reports to the
foundation. He already has made recommendations for expanding the
fellowship partnership with MUSC paving the way for other eye care
specialists from his country who are anxious to learn and practice.
“Our goal is to treat and prevent blindness, and I believe it will be
the Pakistani children who will benefit from such a partnership,” Khan
Friday, July 2, 2010