Partners on the Journey: A Special 50th Anniversary Blog Series, Part 12, By Mike Hertensteinn
Dr. Jim Walker had never seen a mother die in labor – not in nearly four decades of practice. But on a two-week trip to the Congo, he saw it happen before his eyes. The Wisconsin physician traveled with the Paul Carlson Partnership on a training mission to teach Congolese medical professionals a course on reducing postpartum bleeding, called “Helping Mothers Survive.” The PCP “Medical Ambassadors” program connects North American medical professionals in their various specialties with counterparts in the DRC. The former work alongside the latter, providing training, supplies and long-term support and relationships; the strategy includes “training-the-trainers” and so multiplying impact as much as possible.
While in medical school, Walker spent three months on a medical mission in Cameroon. Back home in Wisconsin, amid a long career in family practice, he founded a “Free Clinic” that provided care for low-income people, staffed by volunteer physicians and other workers. On the trip to Congo, the team included Dr. Walker and his daughter, Julie Malyon, a nurse and director of a Free Clinic in another town. She’d learned of the PCP Medical Ambassadors at a Covenant Church conference – and was surprised at her father’s strong reaction to her report.
In 1964, Jim Walker had been a high school junior in small-town Wisconsin when word came to his Covenant Church of the death of Paul Carlson in the Congo. Till then, Walker had hoped to be an electrical engineer. From that moment, he determined to be a physician. He wrote his senior English paper on Paul Carlson, and exchanged letters with Dr. Carlson’s brother, Dwight.
So began a journey that led father and daughter into medical careers and caring for the poor. The path led, in early 2014, to the graveside of Paul Carlson, fifty years after his death. Dr. Walker and Nurse Malyon continue to work with PCP Medical Ambassadors leading specialty focus groups.