This year, as part of the Member newsletter, we are featuring individuals who have demonstrated enthusism and motivation to take on tasks, join a commmittee and make a mark on the organisation all while growing their careers.
For April we hear from Dr. Inna Lutsenko, Kyrgyz State Medical Academy after I.K, Akhunbaev, Advanced Training Department. Inna is a regular contributing author to the ESO blog, former ESO EAST national delegate for Kyrgyzstan and active social media user. Inna has been an ESO member since 2015, progressively taking on more responsibility as well as participating in various ESO activities including; ESO EAST annual workshops, the Department to Department Visit Programme, and Edinburgh Stroke Research Workshop.  She has also sucessfully presented several posters at the annual ESOC. We chat with Inna about the steps she took in ESO and how she grew along the way.

When did you first join ESO? Was there a person or event that encouraged you to become a member?

I would like to emphasize the positive influence of my first teacher in neurology, academician Professor Arstanbek Murzaliev, who is celebrating his 90th anniversary this year. Professor Murzaliev inspired us, his students, to maintain professional ties with colleagues abroad and encouraged us to bring changes to the field of neurology in our country based on the latest achievements of neurological science worldwide. This is precisely what became the motivation for my participation in the ESO EAST Project, to which my mentor Professor Elmira Mamytova kindly invited me.

I have a strong and a vivid memory of my first participation in the ESO event taking place in Georgia during the 6th World Stroke Organisation’s regional meeting “Tbilisi 2015: Stroke diagnosis and prevention”.  At this conference I represented Kyrgyzstan with a speech on stroke services in my country in the workshop “Stroke in the Black Sea Region and Central Asia”. This meeting was the first step in establishing a network of stroke professionals in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in cooperation with leaders in stroke services around the world. I clearly remember my impression of the reports of Professor Nathan Bornstein, Professor Valeria Caso and Professor Robert Mikulik. Most of all, I was impressed by the idea that recognized European leaders in the field of stroke research would share their experiences and help organize stroke services for the countries participating in the ESO EAST project.

You were a founding delegate of ESO EAST, how has this impacted your activities outside of ESO?

In 2015 the European Stroke Organisation (ESO) launched the ESO EAST (European Stroke Organisation – Enhancing and Accelerating Stroke Treatment) project. The aim of this project is to facilitate the implementation of new proven approaches in stroke diagnostics, management and treatment. Kyrgyzstan joined the ESO EAST project in 2015 and I had the honor of representing the interests of my country.

I am very grateful to my team, with whom I worked during the period 2015-2020: highly motivated student volunteers, residents of hospitals in Bishkek and doctors from all regions of Kyrgyzstan. We were able to introduce the RES-Q stroke registry in regional capitals and rural areas, established cooperation with the educational organization Angels Initiative, conducted many trainings on assessment and evidence-based stroke treatment for hospital doctors, as well as doctors and paramedics of Bishkek’s emergency medical center. There we were also able to implement the NIHSS scale to assess all patients suffering from stroke and develop an algorithm for recognizing the first symptoms of stroke, called “SOKKU”, the Kyrgyz analogue of FAST. I would like to emphasize that I was inspired by both the ESO leaders as well as the attended professional trainings to promote evidence-based initiatives in my country.

You were awarded a Department to Department Visit Programme grant in 2019. Would you recommend this programme to others?

In December 2019 I had the opportunity to stay at the San Camillo Hospital in Rome, Italy, for one week by invitation of Professor Francesca Romana Pezzella, who I met during her visits to Kyrgyzstan in 2017 in her role as the ESO expert for the „Roadmap for Stroke“ project. I participated as part of the working group in this project and was working with Dr. Pezzella during her visits in Kyrgyzstan as well as online. My special focus in research always has been the stroke services organization, stroke pathways and stroke management. Having been involved in the changes of stroke management in Kyrgyzstan, I was planning to observe an entire stroke pathway  at the San Camillo Hospital, which is the “hub” for stroke management in Italy’s Lazio region.

The atmosphere in the stroke and general neurology departments at the San Camillo Hospital was welcoming and positive. Doctors and nurses were friendly to all visiting specialists, they collaborated and included them in the daily routine very fast. I also learned that this special atmosphere of “cheerfulness”, optimism, mutual assistance and positive emotions is very typical for Italy.

We took an example of our colleagues from Italy, who also struggled to implement changes, such as new stroke scales, electronic records, robotic pharmacy and highly functioning neuroimaging inside the same pavilions, for years, but finally made it possible due to their highly collaborative work.

Which ESO meetings you attended can you recommend for young colleagues in order to change their careers towards professional growth and expanding collaboration?

I would like to emphasise the importance of participating in such ESO initiatives as the ESO Summer School and the ESO Edinburgh Stroke Workshop for young colleagues. Where else will you have the opportunity to get first-hand knowledge from professors while also having direct access to them for questions and discussions during the coffee breaks?

At the same time, I would like to encourage my colleagues not only to gain knowledge for their personal growth, but also to invest part of their time and expertise in representing and growing ESO in their respective countries, because we are progressing only by sharing what we have received. This also is my motto in my life and professional environment.