I was very fortunate in 2016 to be a recipient of the Visitor Training Program (VTP) Award offered by the American Society for Hematology (ASH). The award worth USD 8000 allowed me to travel to Maryland, USA and train at the University of Maryland Medical Center and under a 6 weeks training under the supervision of Professor Zeba Singh.
The VTP award is offered every year to doctors from low income countries to undergo specialized hematology training in the United States under the supervision of a mentor – a ASH member with good standing and track record of supervising trainees.
My training plan focused on interpreting and reporting peripheral blood smears, bone marrow biopsy and aspirate smears, lymph node biopsies and interpreting and reporting multi-color flowcytometry.
Professor Zeba taught me a great deal about diagnosing leukemia and lymphoma, training I do not think I would have received in my home country Papua New Guinea.
I think I was the first (I stand to be corrected) from the Pacific Islands to be awarded the VTP award by ASH. A key milestone of the Award was that the VTP recipient is required to implement a training program to train others within his or her hospital or institution. So I had to do that. I ran a training program for my fellow trainee doctors for 12 months and gave tips on leukemia diagnosis.
Since 2016 I have been advocating other doctors within the Pacific Region to apply for the ASH VTP award to received specialized hematology training in the states.