Ultrasound Returns to Ecuador

Four years ago as her residency application journey started, aside from matching at the most clinically rigorous emergency medicine program, Dr. Camila Calderón, MD also wanted to fulfill her dream of giving back to her home country, Ecuador. She was persuaded following her interview at UTHealth Houston that this program had the potential to support her goals in terms of mentoring, innovation, and medical education.

Dr. Calderón immigrated from Ecuador as a child and had the opportunity to return home frequently where she witnessed firsthand, despite the exceptional medical care doctors provide, the limited resources some hospitals endured, and the limited medical care accessibility that exists for some patients. Combining this with her interest in point-of-care ultrasound, she has established a partnership between UTHealth Houston and a number of Ecuadorian institutions and hospitals with the objective of increasing the use of ultrasound by emergency physicians in Ecuador, which will ultimately impact patient care. Ultrasound has extensive clinical applications and has become the imaging modality of choice in many contexts with limited resources.

In May of 2022, five faculty members and three residents from the Department of Emergency Medicine traveled to Quito, Ecuador to teach the first point-of-care ultrasonography workshop for more than 60 Ecuadorian emergency medicine residents. This past May was the second year that faculty and residents from the Department of Emergency Medicine traveled to Ecuador to continue the ultrasound training workshop at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador and Hospital General Docente de Calderón. This initiative was established to provide Ecuadorian Emergency Medicine residents with hands-on ultrasound practice for clinical application in a limited resource setting. UTHealth Houston faculty and residents also benefit greatly from the clinical perspective and knowledge shared by Ecuadorian physicians. This is a new partnership with Ecuadorian universities and hospitals, and their leadership: Dr. Augusto Maldonado at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Dr. Ruth Jimbo and Dr. Paul Carrasco at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, and Dr. Juan Pablo Velasco and Dr. Patricia Benavides at Hospital General Docente de Calderón.

Together with Dr. Gordon, the Ultrasound Fellowship Director, Dr. Shabana Walia, the Global Health Section Director, and the emergency medicine leadership in Ecuador, the partnership we have created encompasses medical education, medical Spanish, research, ultrasound education, and global medicine. My vision for this partnership is to continue to collaborate with our colleagues in Ecuador and expand this program. I am extremely grateful to UTHealth Houston for their support and interest to help this project grow. If you have a dream or a vision, UTHealth Houston is the place to be.” – Dr. Calderón

The funding for this project was directly and graciously provided by the Department of Emergency Medicine. The Emergency Medicine Department will continue to develop this partnership and future plans include creating an elective rotation for the UTHealth emergency medicine residents to participate in yearly ultrasound workshops, creating an exchange program with Ecuadorian emergency medicine residents, collaborating with the Ecuadorian universities in patient-centered ultrasound-related research, and establishing a remote ultrasound curriculum.