February 23, 2012

Vanderbilt’s Newton lands international medicine award

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Mark Newton, M.D., was honored by the American Medical Association for his work in Kijabe Hospital in Kenya.

Vanderbilt’s Newton lands international medicine award

When Mark Newton, M.D., speaks of the urgent need to reach medically underserved populations throughout the world, his words of compassion are backed up by more than 14 years’ worth of action.

Newton’s humanitarian efforts in health care were recently applauded by the American Medical Association with the presentation of the Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine. Named for AMA’s founder, the award recognizes physicians whose influence reach the international patient population and change the future of their medical care.

Mark Newton, M.D.

Mark Newton, M.D.

Newton, an associate clinical professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, directs the Vanderbilt International Anesthesia (VIA) program. VIA is a global service, education and research division which focuses on anesthesia and ICU issues in low-income countries.

Under Newton’s guidance, young doctors travel to medically underserved regions of the world to both receive training and to educate others in anesthesia provision. Newton also developed an anesthesia education and training program for providers in Kenya. Newton divides his time between being a pediatric anesthesiologist at Vanderbilt and serving as chief anesthesiologist for Kijabe Hospital in Kenya.

“Over the span of his career, Mark has contributed substantially, and at great personal sacrifice, to international anesthesia education and training in low-income countries,” said Warren Sandberg, M.D., chair of the Department of Anesthesiology.

“Anesthetic morbidity and mortality are a leading cause of death among surgical patients in developing countries, largely due to lack of trained personnel. Mark embodies, in spirit and action, the true meaning of a physician servant, and his personal contribution to health care on an international level will have a perpetual, positive impact.”

Newton received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch. He began participating in international medical work in the mid-1980s while a medical student at University of Texas. From 1992-1997, Newton worked as a pediatric anesthesiologist at Denver Children’s Hospital and a clinical instructor for the Department of Anesthesiology at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. During this time, he continued his medical mission work, working in Nigeria, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador and Mexico.

In 1997, he moved his family to rural East Africa to work at Kijabe Hospital, where he has now provided anesthesiology service and training for more than 14 years. In this capacity, he worked alongside Kenyan medical staff to establish the country’s first intensive care unit and develop the country’s first nurse anesthetist training program.

Newton and his wife, Sue, have five children. One of their daughters was born in Kenya, two boys were born in the United States, and the couple adopted a Kenyan boy and girl. Sue Newton also helped establish a children’s home in rural Kenya which now serves as a home for about 50 children.