Medicine on a Mission

“Medicine on a Mission” is not just a tagline for the Medical Center’s consumer advertising. It is how many University of Maryland faculty physicians practice medicine, by quite literally taking their skills and passion for healing on a medical mission to other parts of the world.

Sunjay Kaushal, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of surgery and director of pediatric cardiac surgery, travelled to Ecuador for a week this past spring to care for children with congenital heart disease. Accompanied by certified surgical technologist Nicolette Dupuis, this pair was in the operating room from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day performing life-saving cardiac operations on nearly 20 children who would have died without surgery. 

This mission, which marks Dr. Kaushal’s fifth, was through International Children’s Heart Foundation, a group dedicated to providing supplies, training and surgical resources to care for underprivileged children with heart disease in dozens of countries around the world.

Nelson H. Goldberg, M.D., professor of surgery in the division of plastic surgery, is no stranger to medical missions. During the past 15 years, he has traveled to more than 20 places, including multiple locations in Asia and Central America.

Dr. Goldberg’s most recent mission in April of 2012 was to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, with the Medical Mission Group, where he serves as vice president of the Board of Directors. A team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, medical students, OR nurses and PACU nurses started and ended each day by taking a 30-minute boat ride to and from base camp. The hospital where they saw patients had just one existing operating room, which the group transformed into three spaces, including a gurney on cinder blocks. Their mission was to operate on both children and adults, repairing cleft lips and palates, providing nasal reconstruction and even removing head and neck tumors. 

“Because of the Internet, trips like this have really evolved. We communicate through email and cell phones with local physicians and social workers in advance, so we can come very prepared with the supplies we need. Before, you would just show up and then have to figure it all out,” says Dr. Goldberg. 

Dr. Goldberg will return to the same place in Guatemala in November. He will be able to follow up with patients, operate on more in need of care and see first-hand the impact he is making on improving lives. Learn more at:

This page was last updated: November 7, 2013

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