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World Mag > WM Summer 2018 edition > Interview with Dr. Viorica Russu

Interview with Dr. Viorica Russu

AISB Doctor between 2001-2008
Dr. Viorica Russu
Dr. Viorica Russu

WM: Thank you for accepting to do this interview with us. Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you are doing nowadays.


VR: It is a pleasure to see you here. It reminds of the good days of our medical unit at AISB. Since I left the school in 2007, I have started a private clinic called 1 & 1 Nursing Home, which is a home for the elderly that provides 24/7 care and aims to improve physical and mental health. I would love to be back at AISB, but one only has so much energy. Our current project here requires my 100% involvement.


WM: We know that you lived and studied in the United States. What did you discover over there that you brought back to the medical system in Romania?


VR: I attended medical nursing school in New York in the early 80s. I worked there for 15 years and I learned that you can do a lot of good if you believe in people. You have to follow your ideas, progress in your activity, and always attempt to be the best at what you do. When we, as a family, came back to Romania, we opened a private clinic called Bio-Medica, which had an important role in my activity during the AISB years. I appreciate all that I’ve learned in the US, and at the same time, I valued everything I knew from my own country. It’s always a combination of our roots and experiences that enables us to have an impact on people.


WM: What year did you start working at AISB and how did you decide to start the medical office?


VR: AISB opened its gates for the first time on the new campus in 2001, the same year in which I started working at AISB. As an American citizen, doctor, and nurse, I had the privilege to receive the position of physician in the new campus. With the support of the Bio-Medica clinic, we organized the medical unit from A-Z with everything necessary, to provide the best medical care for the everyday needs of all the students, teachers and staff. I was impressed by the medical system in the United States, more specifically by the way people treated each other, and I ultimately wanted to be a pediatrician. However, my first assignment was in a geriatric unit, so when the opportunity to work with children at AISB appeared, I was very enthusiastic. I realized that if you trust your patient and you make them feel comfortable, you win a friend and a partner. The doctor-patient relationship is the most important in a medical interaction. I could say that the doctor is the liaison between children, students, family, teachers and medical personnel. I wanted to create a unit where the protocols in place would allow you to have all the resources to solve a problem, up to a certain point, where specialized medical care would be required. I aimed to have the right pharmacological products, standard medical equipment and a comfortable space for students to feel safe. Of course, the medical personnel were also very important – it was crucial for the staff to be friendly and good listeners. My intention was also to always involve the family, and create a database with the medical history of each individual student.


WM: What were the challenges you faced during this process?


VR: It was very difficult to take into account such a high number of different nationalities when considering immunization protocols and medical approaches. At the time, AISB had students from at least 40 different countries, and if we take into account so many cultures, we notice that every single person has a different approach to medicine. We had to respect the Romanian law, and considering that AISB is a private school, we needed to take care of the immunizations ourselves. I believe it was very difficult to manage all the potential outbreaks that could occur as a result of children coming back to Romania from different countries during their breaks and vacations. They could be coming with contagious diseases, medical issues that could easily spread, and in order to contain this issue, it was very important to maintain an open dialogue with the parents. There could’ve been numerous outbreaks of chickenpox, head lice, scabies, etc. Every student had a personal file that I had created, and in this, the immunization record was the most important. My daily activity consisted of about 30 kids per day, with all sorts of troubles.


WM: What was the campus like back then? Were there many students at the time?


VR: The campus had 300 kids when I first started working at AISB, and in about 7 years, this number had doubled. The campus was just recently built, so there were very small trees, almost no grass, but these all grew along with us. I have very fond memories of Earth Day in April, when all the kids learned about the planet and made a tribute to nature. I remember my father coming in a few times on this occasion to teach students how to make a garden.


When the Outdoor Education trips took place, the medical staff at AISB had a mission to prepare medical kits depending on the venues for each class. It was the toughest to prepare the kits for students going camping because there were additional dangers that could arise and we had to be very cautious to ensure we packed a kit for any possible situation.


WM: Can you please share with us your most memorable experience from AISB?


VR: I would say that my most memorable experience at AISB was when we organized a First Aid lesson with the BioMedica doctors from all sorts of specialties – emergency doctors, orthopedic surgeons, ophthalmologists and internal medicine doctors – all of whom were very enthusiastic about teaching emergency medicine to the students. Likewise, the kids were curious to learn about this topic, and they had many questions that were unexpected. At that point, the students realized that the doctors that they thought were very serious and at times scary, were in fact also humans with a lot of humor. The feedback for that event was wonderful, and the doctors felt great satisfaction for teaching the students such an important lesson.


WM: What responsibilities do you think the school has to inform and educate the community about medical conditions?


There are many ways today to be in touch with the whole community. Various campaigns can be organized to raise awareness of the various conditions and diseases that may be encountered. Immunization protocols are very important, along with the regular follow up and periodic examinations. This is not only crucial for the students, but also for the teachers and other staff members. There must be permanent communication with the families of the students, and I encourage more events such as the First Aid one to be organized on a constant basis. In addition, a doctor needs to be a very good psychologist, and you must understand the aspects of a students’ life, not just at school, but also at home. When you notice a certain complaint that is repetitive, you start thinking of something that could potentially be wrong outside of the school. Little by little, we discover aspects that not even the parents know. Everything is confidential, but the school’s administration has always been extremely supportive and involved in the activity of the medical office.


WM: Where would you hope to see the medical office at AISB in the future?


VR: I am hoping to see the medical office at AISB as a part of the vertebral column of the school because physical health goes hand in hand with mental health, leading to the well-being of each and every individual at AISB. I encourage students to reach out to the medical office for anything they might experience, and even more so, I encourage parents to be as involved as possible with the office in order to improve the activity of the doctors at AISB. I am glad to see that the medical office continues to be very involved in the sports competitions and tournaments that take place on campus.


I must say, before we end the interview, that I miss AISB. I really enjoyed every single day of my activity there. I felt like I lived every day to the fullest, and every student was like a friend at the end of the day. Ten years have passed since I left the school and every time I bump into somebody out on the street, it’s a happy moment.

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