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Enriching medical imaging abroad: Tracy’s return to Laos with RAD-AID International

Anastasia Tracy

Anastasia Tracy, the director of Boise State’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography program, returned to Luang Prabang, Laos, to contribute her expertise and knowledge to the local medical community. Collaborating with RAD-AID International, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing radiologic services and medical imaging practices in underserved regions, Tracy’s venture was a pivotal step in bridging healthcare disparities.

Tracy emphasized the exemplary teamwork and efficiency displayed by the local medical staff in managing a substantial patient load. Their adaptability and resourcefulness in optimizing available resources to deliver quality care, especially for pediatric patients, stood out as a beacon of dedication and skill. She also was able to make professional observations that lead to process improvement. She revised ultrasound scanning protocols, made technical modifications to support standard measurement practices, and provided education surrounding anatomy, physiology, embryology and pathology.

On Tracy’s first trip to Laos in March 2023, she noticed that the latest textbook on site was significantly out of date. This was mentioned to Boise State Radiologic Sciences Department Chair Leslie Kendrick and emeritus faculty John Lampignano, co-authors of the 10th edition of the Bontrager’s Textbook of Radiographic Positioning and Related Anatomy. Both authors insisted on gifting the Lao Friends Hospital for Children a new copy, free of charge, on Tracy’s return trip in August 2023.

The experience exposed Tracy to the local way of life and provided glimpses of the city’s vibrant culture. Each day began with a unique commute, as Tracy navigated the bustling streets of Luang Prabang in a tuk tuk, a common form of transportation in Laos. Tracy enjoyed savoring authentic local cuisine, which deepened her understanding of the Laotian way of life.

Amidst the remarkable experiences, Tracy encountered barriers that presented a unique set of challenges. Communicating effectively in a foreign country where English was not the primary language required creativity and adaptability. Providing education surrounding findings endemic to the Laos population and having an opportunity to see cases unlike those commonly encountered in the U.S. contributed greatly to her professional development and ability to educate her Boise State students. This experience shed light on the necessity for tailored educational resources in multiple languages to ensure effective collaboration and knowledge transfer in the medical realm at an international level.

From Boise, Tracy participates in remote volunteering opportunities by providing regular virtual lectures to medical staff through the RAD-AID Liberia project. This project services Monrovia, Liberia’s John F. Kennedy Medical Center and the Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital. The RAD-AID Tanzania project has requested that Tracy partner with other volunteers to build pediatric and gynecologic sonography curricula.

Tracy’s volunteer initiative in RAD-AID International shed light on the urgent need to elevate medical imaging practices in underserved regions. The journey to Laos and remote participation in Africa-based projects has been a holistic experience, encompassing cultural immersion, professional growth and the realization of the critical role healthcare professionals play in impacting global healthcare. With continued commitment and collaborative efforts, medical imaging in all of the regions served by RAD-AID International can evolve, promising enhanced healthcare outcomes for its populace.