Vanderbilt International Anesthesia

The Vanderbilt Department of Anesthesiology’s commitment to global health is historically strong, with demonstrated participation and leadership in international teaching/medical service opportunities by our faculty and staff over the last several decades. The department also offers two significant educational opportunities: a one-month, ACGME-approved rotation for Vanderbilt residents in their CA-3 year, and a global health fellowship that includes the opportunity to also earn a master of public health degree as part of the fellowship. Listed below are our most significant global health endeavors.

VIA rotation in Kijabe

Check out these videos to learn more about the VIA Program:

  • Your generosity helps Vanderbilt International Anesthesia send residents, fellows, nurse anesthetists, and others to provide care for people who need it most while enriching our trainees’ medical education as well as that of medical providers in the low-income countries we serve. Together with your support, we can make a difference!

    Ways to Give
    Click here to make a tax-deductible one-time or reoccurring monthly donation on your credit card. Donors who sign up for monthly reocurring contributions of $25-$49 will receive one complimentary ticket to the VIA Annual Fundraiser Dinner and those who make recurring donations of $50 or more will receive two complimentary tickets. *For tax purposes, the tangible value of one ticket is $25*

    If you would like to send a check:
    Make the check payable to: Vanderbilt University Medical Center
    In the note section write: Vanderbilt International Anesthesia
    Mail to: VUMC Community Development
                    Attn: Kathy Ashworth
                    3322 West End Avenue, Suite 900
                    Nashville, TN 37204

  • Performing Service
    The World Health Organization has determined that there is a significant lack of access to surgical and anesthesia care in underserved areas of the world. An essential goal of VIA is to allow the faculty, staff, and trainees of the Department of Anesthesiology the opportunity to provide perioperative patient care in international settings. Through this service, significant benefit is immediately provided to the underserved through relief of their pain and suffering. Caring for patients with significant co-morbidities in busy, under-equipped facilities also can be extremely challenging and equally rewarding for the clinician.

    Advancing Anesthesia Education/Training
    Our goals in education and training involve both educating others, as well as creating a rich experience for trainees and staff of the Department. The most effective international medical mission work includes a focus on teaching local medical professionals already in the field in order to build an ongoing system of medical care provision long after U.S. workers have gone home. Though this requires perseverance and a long-term commitment, seeds planted by educating our international colleagues will pay off for generations to come.

    We plan to improve perioperative care in the facilities, institutions, and countries we serve by expanding the knowledge and skills of anesthesia care providers who work there. These educational experiences may take many forms including lectures to local medical staff on practical and theoretical topics in both the clinical and classroom environment. Alternatively, bi-directional exchanges for extended periods may also achieve more advanced training goals. Ultimately, our desire is to create and support new international training programs that can train and educate significant numbers of anesthesia care providers and, thereby, more broadly impact the long-term delivery of anesthesia care.

    Another unique educational program offering is the subspecialty or technique-based curriculum for continuing education that involves content experts in our department travelling as instructor teams to other locales to provide both didactic and clinical instruction in anesthetic management. Topics addressed may include advanced airway management, regional anesthesia, ultrasonography, critical care management, use of simulation in training, etc. The goal of this program is to rapidly raise the knowledge and skill level of a larger group of providers and positively impact patient care in the near term.

    Our desire is for every clinical experience of the VIA program to involve Vanderbilt trainees and for all interested trainees to have the opportunity to participate in a service experience at least once during the program. Participation in both clinical and educational experiences provides a matchless learning opportunity which is not available in the context of traditional training programs. Learning about cross-cultural aspects of anesthesia care is an important goal for trainees during their international rotation. Through VIA, we will provide a safe, yet challenging educational experience that crystallizes the students’ prior educational preparation. We also hope that this experience will form the foundation for future contributions in international anesthesia due to the intense personal satisfaction gained by serving others.

    Opportunities for Research
    The Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Department of Anesthesiology have unique research programs and resources (genomics, proteomics, educational methodologies, health services research, etc.) that can be used to help develop the best strategies for improving perioperative care of the underserved. Similarly, many underserved environments provide unique opportunities to study aspects of health, disease, and health systems interventions that are no longer possible in U.S.-based medicine. Finally, research partnerships and infrastructure development will allow VUMC the opportunity to study health issues in areas where medical research may be lacking. It is possible that the most profound impact of our program could ultimately come as the result of research investigations initiated under these auspices.

  • Our goal is to provide multiple international experiences for our participants. Initially, these experiences will be achieved by building upon existing relationships and programs established by Vanderbilt faculty and existing extramural programs established by international organizations which are consistent with our educational objectives.

    Simultaneously, we will establish relationships with small group of international medical centers to create a consistent presence of VIA participants at these sites to better achieve our program objectives. These partnerships will best achieve the tripartite goals of the VIA program with the most efficient administrative and educational infrastructure. Our eventual objective is to have such in-residence partnerships in several geographic regions.  Moreover, our goals are:

    • Partnering with already existing international programs within VUMC which will allow for a service experience for faculty and trainees in areas with known opportunity or the potential for educational program development.
    • Developing the administrative and financial resources required to create and maintain an international anesthesia program.
    • Developing partnerships between the Department of Anesthesiology and international academic, government, or private/corporate institutions.
  • International CME Development
    The opportunity to deepen the level of knowledge in the area of anesthesia theory and clinical application in less-developed regions of the world is an aspect of the VIA program that will have a great long-term impact. Physicians, nurses, and other anesthesia care providers in many countries lack exposure to continuous medical education programs, and VIA can help fill that void. The initial planned areas of Educational Symposia will be the Caribbean (Jamaica/West Indies), Guatemala and Kenya.

    Telemedicine & Long-distance CME
    VIA plans to export proprietary technology to enable Vanderbilt faculty to provide telemedicine to partner programs in Kenya and surrounding African countries. Utilizing the Vigilance application, anesthesia providers in Nashville could educate and even provide clinical support for anesthesia colleagues and trainees working in partnering institutions in Africa.

    Vanderbilt can also use technology to extend our campus-based graduate education programs to benefit partners based in Kenya and other African partners through the delivery of CME through the Internet. This type of CME program will help the ongoing development of anesthesia care infrastructure in areas of Africa. Satellite telemedicine education centers could be located at partnering African universities, referral hospitals and rural health centers which could provide for educational opportunities within many levels of the healthcare system in Africa.

  • Eligible participants include:

    All clinical faculty of the Department of Anesthesiology are eligible to participate. Faculty are expected to contribute vacation time and financial resources to the program, and possibly sponsor a trainee to share their international experience. Similarly, those willing to serve as trip leaders will receive preferential access to VIA trip scheduling.

    Resident physicians (CA-2 & 3 only) and fellows in good standing are eligible to participate in an approved VIA program. Priority will be given to senior residents, those who choose to contribute vacation time to the program, and those who have not taken a previous trip with VIA.

    CRNA staff of the Vanderbilt Department of Anesthesiology are eligible to participate in VIA trips as space and resources allow. Priority will be given to CRNAs who are willing to contribute vacation time to the program, and/or pay for their travel expenses.

    Clinical and non-clinical department staff are eligible to participate in medical missions in clinical and logistical support roles, as needed. There are numerous support activities at home that require significant effort such as materials acquisition and transport, and fundraising. There also may be opportunities to participate in overseas community service activities that are associated with medical missions. Such activities may include providing medicines and supplies; strengthening health facilities; training community health workers; providing water systems and hygiene education; participating in income-generating opportunities and other community development projects.

    To express your interest in participating in future VIA trips email:
    Claire Posey
    Associate Program Manager

  • imPACT Africa Grant: Vanderbilt University received a $3 million ImPACT Africa (Improving Perioperative & Anesthesia Care and Training in Africa) grant in late 2013 from the GE Foundation’s Developing Health Globally program to fund international medical education and research in Kenya and other low-resource regions of the world. The major focus of this program is to develop training programs that can demonstrably lower surgical and obstetric mortality, as well as dramatically improve and expand education of anesthesia providers in these regions. Throught the grant, the Department of Anesthesiology is also developing an innovative, interactive curriculum to train anesthesia providers who will practice in rural Kenya and other regions of the world.

    Global Anesthesia Journal Club: The Vanderbilt International Journal Club (VIJC) is a quarterly forum for faculty, residents, fellows, and medical students from all disciplines interested in international health care issues.

    Lifebox Initiative: Vanderbilt is a passionate backer of a campaign to provide Lifebox pulse oximeters to areas of need throughout the world, and the Vanderbilt Anesthesiology Department has already purchased and distributed more than 40 of these devices internationally. The current estimate is that there are more than 77,000 operating rooms worldwide that do not have access to a single pulse oximeter. Lifebox pulse oximeters are low cost ($250 each), rugged, and designed for use in low-resource areas. Vanderbilt anesthesiologists also witnessed a need to educate those going to areas where there have formerly been little or no pulse oximeters to ensure these devices are accepted and used effectively. We developed training videos, distributed by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, in order to provide "train the trainer" pulse oximetry training.

    WHO Surgical Safety Checklist Training: Vanderbilt anesthesiologists working in remote service areas in the world also witnessed a need to provide training on the use of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. In order to provide "train the trainer” educational material concerning the use of the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, we developed training videos that are distributed by the American Society of Anesthesiologists.