Since 2004, Interplast and the Dr Soetomo Hospital in Surabaya, Indonesia, have organised the Indonesia Anaesthesia Trainees Attachment and Observership Program. The program has been driven by the head of the Anaesthetic Department at Dr Soetomo Hospital, Professor Edi Rahardjo, who each year selects two of his most senior registrars to be involved. (A registrar has completed their undergraduate medical degree and is undertaking their specialist training.)

Dr Diah Wahyuningsih and Dr Melissa Nathania Theda are the 29th and 30th registrars from Surabaya to be involved in the annual program. All alumni of the program have achieved a high level of professional success in Indonesian anaesthesia, with many now on the staff of Dr Soetomo Hospital.

Diah and Melissa spent the majority of the six-week program at Ballarat Health Service observing many aspects of anaesthesia. They also visited the Royal Children’s Hospital where they observed paediatric anaesthetic management for paediatric neurosurgery and Hamilton Hospital where they observed the anaesthetic management for bariatric surgery (a rare procedure in Indonesia).

They had the opportunity to attend the Australian Society of Anaesthetists National Scientific Congress in Sydney and participate in a regional anaesthesia basic upper limb workshop.

On their last weekend, they attended the Anaesthesia Continuing Education, Rural Special Interest Group meeting in Ballarat.

The two registrars said that they had learnt a great deal during the program.

“We never thought we would get a great opportunity like this. We learned a lot from this program. This program has improved our knowledge and experience in practicing anaesthesia, we hope we can participate and encourage in the development of anaesthesia in our country,” said Diah and Melissa.

Melissa added that the program had been very practical.

“We learned how to use USG (ultrasound guidance) at the meeting in Sydney. We got the chance to learn about the benefit of block using the ultrasound. The demonstrator teaching us did so very practically,” Melissa said.

One learning stood out for the registrars.

“In paediatric anaesthesia, in Indonesia we always use premedication, before anaesthetic we give some drugs to make the child quiet and sleepy. But here, they use toys. That’s really cool,” Diah said.

“Maybe we can do this in Indonesia. We can do it with paediatric patients in Surabaya.”

“We are very grateful to the Australian community for supporting us through Interplast. We hope this is not the last opportunity. Hopefully this program will continue in future years so that other registrars can also study and learn like us and see the world outside Indonesia.”

The Indonesia Anaesthesia Trainees Attachment and Observership Program is supported by the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) and Rotary District 9780.

Photo: Melissa and Diah are pictured with the Ballarat anaesthetics team.