It’s always cool to meet people at the conferences Dragonfly attends who we’d never have gotten to know otherwise. At May’s meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) in San Diego, I met a representative of Utah-based nonprofit IVUmed. And when I found out what they do, I had to share their work.
IVUmed brings urological care to the parts of the world that need it most. Urologic health has a huge impact on quality of life, and as conditions such as kidney disease and bladder cancer grow worldwide, the demand for expertise is greater than ever.
A health-focused mission
Since 1995, IVUmed has trained hundreds of doctors and nurses, and provided potentially life-saving treatment to thousands of patients in more than 30 countries. The group also launched a domestic urology education program to train underserved populations in the United States.
But what makes IVUmed different from other humanitarian aid groups is that its results are sustainable. The organization works only in established hospitals and clinics. And instead of merely treating patients in need, IVUmed volunteers train local doctors and nurses in all aspects of urological and surgical care.
Here’s how it works: American physicians volunteer to attend workshops around the world, which last an average of 8-12 days. Trips consist of a combination of instruction and hands-on clinical experience. After volunteer teams leave, they stay in touch with hospitals through “telehealth” consulting, through which volunteer doctors answer questions, share best practices, and provide ongoing instruction.
The volunteer spirit
Once they get involved, IVUmed’s volunteers tend to get hooked—and bring their colleagues on board. Now, the organization offers training in all areas of urology, plus teaching for nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists, and other specialties. Medical students are also encouraged to attend as “traveling resident scholars.”
IVUmed has nearly 20 workshops scheduled for the next 12 months, in hospitals everywhere from Haiti to Senegal, focused on pediatric work, oncology, and women’s health. Next up for the nonprofit are expanded telehealth capabilities (working with a specialized communication system at the University of Utah), and an educational platform, designed to be usable even without a fast Internet connection. Developers have finished the software’s first training module and hope to release more lectures throughout the year.
Says Josh Wood, IVUmed’s executive director, “As we gain exposure, expand education, and grow our programs, we’re improving quality of life—even long after our teams have left.”
Inspired yet? At present, IVUmed’s primary needs are funding and volunteers. To learn more about the organization or get involved, visit www.ivumed.org.