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Unlike the US, there are no old doctors in Cambodia. Sadly, that’s one of the remnants of the Khmer Rouge regime. All educated individuals, including doctors, were persecuted and killed. Of the 30 or so doctors at AHC, the most senior doctors were young children during the brutal regime. Even the chief of AHC is only about 40 years old. I’m told about a third of doctors in Cambodia now are women, though we only have two at AHC. One aspect is similar to the US though. In Cambodia, doctors earn a good living, at least relative to other Cambodians. Many of them show up to work in Toyota Camrys (though some expats around town drive Lexuses), while most others drive motorbikes. Perpetually at the bottom of the medical totem pole it seems, I ride my dilapidated hand-me-down but free bicycle, which often breaks down when the chain gets wet. It’s rainy season by the way.
Medical training, as with the rest of development in Cambodia, has come a long way in just a few decades. To become a doctor in Cambodia, one needs to go to medical school after secondary school. It’s a pricey endeavor, and not everyone can afford it. Upon graduation though, you can hang up a sign and start practicing medicine AKA making money. No residency required. AHC is the exception. All the doctors at AHC have completed medical school already, but they chose to apply to (and got into, which is not that easy apparently) AHC and complete a three year residency in pediatrics. This additional training is what makes the training and care provided at AHC superior to other hospitals in Cambodia and has earned it its international recognition. However, specialty training is still something that is not as developed in Cambodia yet. Some of the senior doctors have particular fields of interests, but they are not board-certified in them because the training and certification does not exist. However, many of the senior doctors have spent time abroad studying up to a year in places like Singapore (or Nevada for cardiology apparently) to get specialty training.
The need for well-trained physicians is as strong as ever in Cambodia right now. AHC’s most important role may not simply be the excellent care that it provides to Cambodia’s children, but rather driving the development of medical training in Cambodia.