CureBlindness | Doctor Completes HCP Global Fellowship
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Doctor Completes HCP Global Fellowship

news | Jun 27, 2023

Dr. Kanwal Singh Matharu completes his year-long HCP fellowship and reflects on his time spent working with in-country partners. The International Fellowship provides early career American ophthalmologists with global healthcare experience within the HCP Cureblindness partner network.

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Each year, HCP partners with Stanford University to offer an International Fellowship that provides early career ophthalmologists with global healthcare experience under the guidance of HCP Co-founder Dr. Geoff Tabin, fellows are paired with in-country partners to advance the skills of their local teams. Fellows are encouraged to integrate global service into their post-fellowship careers.

The most recent doctor to complete the one-year, highly competitive clinical fellowship was Dr. Kanwal Singh Matharu. Dr. Matharu attended McGovern Medical School following his graduation from Princeton University. He finished his ophthalmology residency at Baylor College of Medicine and a fellowship in cornea and refractive surgery from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine before joining HCP.

The fellowship includes both training and mentorship by HCP affiliated ophthalmologists and partners in Asia and Africa as well as transferring skills and service delivery. Mentors include Dr. Tabin, Dr. Reeta Gurung, CEO of the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Nepal, and Dr. Virender Sandwan of Shroff’s Hospital in India. Dr. Matharu visited eye care facilities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, India, and Nepal. Dr. Matharu recently reflected on his year of working in global healthcare and provided insight into his experiences and his hopes for the future of eye care in low-resource countries.

An Unforgettable Year: Dr. Matharu Reflects on His Time with HCP

Are there memorable patient or outreach stories that you would like to share?
The most satisfying aspect of observing the outreaches was watching the teams grow in their skill and comfort. In Tanzania and Ethiopia, I saw a team of nurses, optometrists, and surgeons work together to help their countrymen. It was an honor watching them dream bigger--"We helped 300 patients this week. Next time, we're going to treat 1,000." Their passion and commitment is inspiring.

What is your hope for your patients who have regained their sight?
That they live happier lives full of hope for a brighter tomorrow.

How do you see this fellowship influencing your future work?
I will be joining academia and participating in the effort to formalize "global ophthalmology" as a discipline for American trainees to serve those in the Global Majority in an ethical, sustainable, and thoughtful way. This fellowship has laid the foundation for my lifelong learning in this vast field.

Can you share an experience that will have a lasting impact on your life after your fellowship?
Sharing a few corneal suturing pearls with my mentor, friend, and brother Seemal. Counseling an anxious mother of an 11-year-old boy about her son's penetrating keratoplasty in Accra, Ghana. Devouring coconuts with Dr. Wanye's team in the Volta region of Ghana. Supporting the cornea fellows in Hyderabad as they operated til 12:30 AM... I could go on...

What are your hopes for the future of eye care?
That we achieve equity for our patients and equality for our female colleagues performing above and beyond the call of duty.

What do you hope your contribution will be to the future of global eye care?
Support local surgeons joining this effort; serve HCP's missions of patient care, education, and advocacy; and perform quality improvement and translational research to improve the care of patients around the world.

How will you share the skills and knowledge you gained during your fellowship?
Through presentations, service, teaching residents, and staying in touch with HCP.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
This was the best year of my training because it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Dr. Tabin and Dr. Ruit have been my heroes for more than a decade. When I tell my college friends and family members who knew of my earliest aspirations, their enthusiasm for my experience this year is satisfying.

During the quiet moments in buses en route to outreaches, I felt the most profound peace. I will never forget staring at the stars in the Tanzanian Savannah and at the snaking roads through the Nepali Himalayas.

I would really like to thank the following people who supported me in innumerable ways: Ms. Pamela Clapp, Brendan "Cal" Callahan, and Wallis Cronin.

As Dr. Matharu ends his fellowship, Dr. Sean Collon joins HCP as the new international fellow.

Farewell and best wishes to Dr. Matharu and welcome, Dr. Collon!

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