Via Christi’s 10-year-old International Family Medicine Fellowship program recently welcomed three new fellows: Brandon Cole, DO; Isaac Hatton, MD, and Samuel Porter, MD.
While their hometowns span three continents — South America, Europe and Asia — they share a common goal: Getting the training and hands-on experience they need to care for medically underserved populations worldwide.
All three are married and have — or soon will have — young children, who will be joining them in their journey to bring medical care to where it is most needed.
Dr. Porter and Dr. Hatton completed their undergraduate studies at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, while Dr. Cole received his from John Brown University. Two received their medical degrees from American universities – Dr. Porter from Mayo Medical School in Minnesota and Dr. Cole, the only osteopathic physician among the three, from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. Dr. Hatton received his medical degree from Medical School for International Health in Israel.
They also have all studied or volunteered in multiple countries.
“I still don’t know exactly where home is,” says Dr. Cole, who spent 12 years of his childhood in Quito, Ecuador, and has studied or served in nine other countries since that time. He and his wife, Jenna, moved to Wichita three years ago so he could complete family medicine residency training at Via Christi. The Coles are expecting their first child this month.
“My goal is to be as prepared as possible to do effective, long-term overseas medical work with the underserved,” he says, adding that he particularly enjoys the areas of OB and pediatric medicine. “You get such perspective among the little ones and new life is such a joy.”
Dr. Hatton’s family is from Belfast, Ireland, but he was born and raised in Papua New Guinea, where his parents worked for 20 years. Upon completion of his fellowship, he and his wife, Camille, and their son, Sojourn, who was born in August, plan to practice in an as yet to-be-determined underserved country.
“I’m looking at teaching and potentially helping launch a family medicine residency program for an overseas medical school,” he says.
Dr. Porter grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, where his parents worked for a charitable organization whose focus was helping refugees. Like the Coles, he and his wife, Jessica, also came to Wichita for residency training at Via Christi, and subsequently were blessed with sons Elias, 2, and Oliver, 9 months.
“While doing my family medicine residency, it quickly became clear that medicine is very different in America than in the developing world,” he says, adding that in order to achieve his family’s goal of working with refuges in the Middle East, “I would need to learn to be a doctor without all the high-tech support of the West.”
During the one-year fellowship, Dr. Porter and his colleagues are studying tropical diseases and parasitology, and pursuing additional training in fields that are of particular importance abroad such as trauma, burn care, dentistry, and ultrasound. This spring they will put their skills to use at a hospital in Rwanda.
Says Dr. Patrick Allen, a 2015 fellowship graduate who now serves as interim director for the fellowship program: "Our International Family Medicine Fellowship program equips physicians to serve strategically and effectively in the most hurting places around the world. The global impact our fellows and graduates have is incredible."