Burckhard working to make a difference

By Michael Linnell
University Communications Director

After taking a pre-medicine curriculum course and watching an ophthalmologist perform a cataract surgery, Brady Burckhard ’12 knew what he wanted to do with his career.

But it would have been hard for him to imagine he would be part of a team performing 90 surgeries in a day in the Philippines.

Burckhard, in his third year of residency at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health Science, traveled to Manila and Tacloban City, Philippines as a part of an elective international rotation. The rotation resurrected a nearly 20-year-old program started in 1978 by Dr. Guillermo de Venecia and his wife, nurse Marta de Venecia, who established the Free Rural Eye Clinic in the Philippines to provide cataract surgery and other ophthalmologic care to indigent patients.

“The program got fired back up again this year and I took an interest,” Burckhard said. “It was a unique experience. Most of the time, there are a group of faculty on a trip, but this time I went by myself and worked with the surgeons in the Philippines.”

Part of his trip included working in an urban setting in Manila at Cardinal Hospital and at the University of Santos Tomas, an academic center.

The second half of the trip was southeast of Manila in Tacloban City — exposing Burckhard to a completely different type of healthcare.

“The people in this area really don’t have access to good healthcare,” he said. “There were many individuals who we saw that had been blind for 10 or 15 years. We did a high volume of surgeries; it was basically an assembly line. We had six surgeons in a room and the people were lined up to get in. After you finished one, another would lay down, you would put a drape over them, sterilize as best as you could and do the surgery. After that, another would come in.

“We operated from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. — basically nonstop.”

While Burckhard is proud of his work during the international rotation, he feels much more needs to be done.

“This was a drop in the ocean,” Burckhard said. “We were able to do about 90 and millions need to be done. We need a lot of people to be involved in programs like this. We really take for granted how well we have it here. You are humbled by it.”

Burckhard credits MSU and its professors who gave him research opportunities and pushed him to excel, giving him a solid foundation and setting him up for what will become a 14-year collegiate career.

“The smaller class sizes really gave me the opportunity to have close interaction with faculty and allowed me to have so many research opportunities,” he said. “Dr. (Naomi) Winburn helped convince me to do a double major in biology and chemistry and to look into medical school. The research I was able to do with Dr. (Mikhail) Bobylev, getting to present at Posters on the Hill and at other organic chemistry conferences, and the great recommendation letters they wrote, really set me apart when I applied to medical school.

“It was a great fit for me.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 03/25/19   

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