The life and practice of Susan Myers, MD, has forever changed for the better after spending more than 20 years in Papua New Guinea diagnosing and treating patients in dire need. She recognizes firsthand the importance of being more sensitive to peoples’ needs, and understanding each patient’s unique experience and environment in order to provide the very best care.
Her work abroad has well prepared her for her work here at home, especially when it comes to flexibility, cultural understanding and the value of helping others in need, as Akron Children’s newest pediatrician in Lisbon.
“God gave me what I needed to take care of the people, providing me with colleagues and volunteers to help teach me things I needed to learn to provide great care there,” said Dr. Myers. “Being able to serve there is an incredible privilege. I feel humbled and honored to be a part of the work that goes on there, and I look forward to bringing that knowledge and experience back to help kids and teens here at home.”
Dr. Myers’ journey abroad in Papua New Guinea
After spending a month at the Nazarene General Hospital in Papua New Guinea during her undergraduate years, Dr. Myers felt assured in her calling to serve overseas long-term for families in desperate need. So upon graduation, she and her husband, Jeff, applied for missionary positions through the Nazarene Church, where they are members.
In 2001, Dr. Myers and her family set off to Papua New Guinea to serve a most urgent need at the Nazarene General Hospital and work with a team of U.S. trained doctors.
During her time in Papua New Guinea, Dr. Myers served in many different roles for the 150-bed hospital. She managed the pediatric ward, served as medical director for 6 years, and worked as a general practitioner for both kids and adults across many different disciplines, including general medicine, ER, obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and infectious disease on both inpatients and outpatients. Her experience treating patients spans congenital heart defects to malnutrition to asthma and allergies to cancer to illnesses, such as malaria, typhoid fever and tuberculosis.
In addition, Dr. Myers worked with students from the medical school in Papua New Guinea as they rotated through the hospital.
“I did a little bit of everything and gained valuable skills that I didn’t learn during my residency,” said Dr. Myers, whose husband provided support for the church across Papua New Guinea and the surrounding region as an ordained elder. “I learned to perform many procedures like cesarean sections and cardiac ultrasounds. There’s a lot of need there and not a lot of resources, so you learn all you can to try and meet the patients’ needs.”
When asked about her most memorable moment, they are too numerous to count, she said. But, she points to one example of 2 young children who had Tetralogy of Fallot, a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart and causes oxygen-poor blood to circulate the body, which can lead to life-threatening complications.
Unable to perform the complicated surgery in Papua New Guinea, Dr. Myers coordinated with For Hearts and Souls, a U.S.-based Christian missionary foundation that focuses on medical outreach, to provide free, life-saving surgery to these kids here in the United States.
“It was such an honor to be able to identify the problem, get them in touch with the right people for surgery and be there to take care of them upon their return post-surgery,” said Dr. Myers. “It was an incredible experience to know their lives have been changed forever.”
Dr. Myers’ returns to Akron Children’s
To Dr. Myers, returning to Akron Children’s felt like coming home because of her long history with the organization. She completed her pediatric residency here in the early ’90s and later, in 1999, she merged her private practice with Akron Children’s, which was opening an office in Dover, at the time.
“By joining the Akron Children’s practice, I was able to do my work abroad and know all of my patients were being well taken care of,” she said. “When my husband and I decided to return to the states full time, it only felt natural to come back to work at Akron Children’s.”
In her new role, Dr. Myers brings with her a wealth of medical experience, especially in identifying and treating kids with common heart defects, and an unmatched global perspective to provide the very best care. She looks forward to making meaningful connections with patients and families, while promoting a sense of health, healing and well-being.
“My prayer is God will use me to offer great medical care, while ensuring all my patients feel valued, heard and cared for,” she said. “The transition coming from that environment back to the United States and navigating a whole new system of care has been difficult. But, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world, and I look forward to helping kids here closer to home.”