Meet Neurosurgery Fellow Dr. Lafortune
Earlier this year, Project Medishare launched a neurosurgery fellowship program in Haiti in partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs, the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami Children’s Hospital, the State University of Haiti and the Haitian Ministry of Health. The goal of the three year program is to build local capacity by improving access to neurosurgical care in emergency situations, as well as degenerative diseases and congenital anomalies such as hydrocephalus.
Dr. Yudy Lafortune, 33, was selected as the program’s first fellow. He was born and raised in Port-au-Prince and attended medical school at Universite de Notre Dame. Over the course of his fellowship, Dr. Fortune will complete rotations at HBM in Port-au-Prince, as well as UM and Miami Children’s Hospital. Dr. Lafortune is being supervised and mentored by Dr. Ariel Henry, Fellowship Program Director, and by Dr. John Ragheb, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital and Miami Children’s Hospital. Read our Q&A with Dr. Lafortune to learn more about him.
Why did you decided to study medicine and become a doctor?
I became a doctor to be a surgeon. I really like the practical, hands-on aspect of surgery. The discipline. The precision. That’s my main motivation and draw to learn what I do. I’m the first person in my family to become a doctor. My parents are very proud me.
What’s your approach to patient care?
When you’re a doctor you have a way that you can reach different types of people. It’s not something they can teach you — you have to have a way to put yourself at the level of that person. I think my patients really appreciate me because of my approach. It’s about making yourself understood while also trying to understand them and what they’re going though.
You know, I never even pictured myself as a neurosurgeon. There was no such program in Haiti; it was a field that required going overseas. I did a four year general surgery program here in Haiti. Then a few months before I completed the program, I was contacted by the Drs. Bitar (Directors of HBM and surgeons) and they told me about the new fellowship opportunity and asked me if I wanted to participate. I decided to rise to the challenge and applied. I’m very glad I was selected.
What’s one of the challenges you face at HBM?
We don’t operate on enough [hydrocephalus] cases. We just don’t have enough surgeons. I wish we could do more.
What advice would you give to others interested in becoming a doctor?
Being a doctor in Haiti is very hard. To be honest, if I knew how hard it was I don’t know if I would made this choice. My advice to any young Haitian doctors or those considering being a doctor, would be that if you want to be a doctor, it has to be a vocational choice and not a professional choice. If you’re not dedicated to it then you won’t make it.