Dr. Jennifer Orning was assigned a mentor, Marie L. Long, MD, through the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). Dr. Long, who was in private practice at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center as Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery, in the Corvallis, Oregon area, was also conducting a trial in Nepal. It was a large-scale, controlled trial that Dr. Long initiated to study the incidence of neural tube defects and early administration of prenatal vitamins. In February, Dr. Orning had the privilege of joining Dr. Long on a trip to Nepal, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to bring supplies and to manage logistics of the study.
For three weeks, Dr. Orning not only assisted with the study, by helping to enroll over 2,000 women in the intervention and control arms, but was also able to observe the Neurosurgery residency programs in the capital city of Kathmandu. Thanks to the accommodation of Dr. Long’s colleagues at both the Teaching and Bir Hospitals, she was able to attend rounds, conference and outpatient clinic. Despite the lack of health insurance and many modern technologies, which are available in the United States, such as MRI, digital subtraction angiography, stereotactic radiosurgery and free use of endoscopy and fluoroscopy, the teams were able to attend to advanced diseases, such as hydrocephalus, subarachnoid hemorrhage and brain tumors.
Dr. Long was also helpful in arranging some time for Dr. Orning to learn about the people and culture of Nepal, as well as travel to some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking locations of the country. Chitwan National Park offers up-close encounters with jungle wildlife, while Pokhara is one of the world’s premier spots for paragliding, due to the thermal drafts above the town’s lake. Kathmandu offered insight into the blending of Hindu and Buddhist cultures, and performing the study in Jomsom permitted up-close views of the majestic Himalayas. Upon her return home, Dr. Orning reported it was one of the most eye-opening and enjoyable trips of her life.