Myanmar PhD student advances his surgical training thanks to Interplast’s mentoring program - Interplast

Myanmar PhD student advances his surgical training thanks to Interplast’s mentoring program

Dr Tun Tun Than is Interplast’s latest surgical trainee set to bring his expertise back to his home city in Mandalay, located in Myanmar’s northern region. He is one of only two qualified plastic surgeons providing life-changing reconstructive surgery in the area, with a population of 1.2 million people.

Dr Than is participating in an intensive observational placement in Melbourne under clinical supervision by Interplast’s Myanmar country coordinator and volunteer, Associate Professor Michael Leung, at Dandenong Hospital. As part of his placement, Dr Than has observed surgeries at other Melbourne tertiary hospitals, including reconstructive surgery for burns scarring at The Alfred.

Observational training exposes Dr Than to the workings of a ‘whole-of-team’ approach that relies on health professionals from different disciplines (surgical, medical, nursing, allied health), along with the patient, working together as a team.

Dr Than will take his learnings about patient assessment, surgical planning and improvements in post-operative care back to his home country. Observing side-by-side with Australian surgical teams also builds important professional networks that Dr Than will draw upon for guidance and support in his future career.

Burns are common in district areas in Myanmar because open fires are a necessity for warmth and cooking. Most families have no access to electricity and households rely on candles and gasoline lanterns for light.

“Mosquitos can spread malaria in these areas, so people use mosquito nets for protection, but these catch alight very easily by nearby candles and cause very serious burns,” Dr Than said.

“Cleft lips and palates are also very common in Myanmar, while skin cancer is more common in Australia.”

Dr Than said his time in Australia has been invaluable and has advanced his surgical techniques and methods.

“I have also learned more about decision making and managing patients for better health outcomes,” he said. Dr Than is a second-year doctoral student and plastic surgery trainee based in Interplast’s local partner hospital, Yangon General Hospital, and Mandalay General Hospital.

At the end of his time in Australia, Dr Than will present his work at the Australasian Cleft Lip and Palate Association Conference and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress in Sydney.

The Baker Foundation has generously supported Australian placements for two nurses, one anaesthetist and two surgeons from Myanmar since 2015, as part of Interplast’s training and mentorship program.

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