Erin Noste, MD FACEP (Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians), Team Rubicon’s Deputy Medical Director, exudes energy and purpose. She said she knew as a child she wanted to be a physician. Though no one in her family was a doctor, a family friend was a pediatric surgeon who traveled with Doctors Without Borders. “I admired him,” Noste said, ”and I knew I wanted to do global health, too.”
The surgeon told Erin the next big thing in medicine would be development of emergency care systems, so in med school, she “did electives that took [her] to Lebanon and Kenya [and was] exposed to refugee healthcare,” solidifying her commitment to the humanitarian and international health sector.
Noste has spent the last nine years of her life at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a resident in Emergency Medicine and a fellow in Disaster Medicine and Emergency Medical Services is currently is a faculty member and the Director of Global Emergency Medicine. Through a World Bank grant and continued support from Carolinas Medical Center, she works with a Tanzanian Emergency Medicine program at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam to develop a pre-hospital care system. Since 2010, Muhumbili has trained doctors and nurses in emergency medicine—something relatively new to sub-Sahara Africa. (The program had its first graduating class in 2013, and has since graduated approximately two dozen doctors and two dozen nurses.)
Noste became a part of Team Rubicon in what she called a “package deal” when David W. Callaway, also at Carolinas Medical Center, became TR’s Chief Medical Officer and Medical Director. Noste was instrumental in Team Rubicon becoming the first North American NGO (and 18th NGO worldwide) verified by the World Health Organization for its two Type 1 EMT mobile units—an accomplishment she is extremely proud of. And as part of TR’s agreement with WHO, Noste now serves as the primary mentor to two other NGOs going through the WHO verification process.
Noste explained, “Over the last two to three years, my work with Team Rubicon as well as in Tanzania has greatly been focused on systems development, or essentially, how can we create a better system of care for those who have limited access to needed medical services. The largest project I have worked on with Team Rubicon has been the WHO Emergency Medical Team classification. As the project developed, it was clear that we were building out improved capabilities to impact victims of disasters. With my EMS development work in Tanzania, I am able to help develop a system that will impact those who have emergencies throughout the country. This type of systems development and capacity building projects for those effected by disasters/emergencies is what makes me most excited for my job.”
In part of her role for TR, Noste dons her grey shirt and travels with the medical mobile unit. She’s worked with TR in Greece with Syrian refugees. And in a few weeks, she’ll be deploying with TR to Mozambique on Operation Macuti Light, in response to Cyclone Idai). And in a nice bit of symmetry, the TR medical team in Mozambique is supported by a resident physician at Muhimbili National Hospital, from the same emergency medicine program Dr. Noste has supported in recent years.
“This response in Mozambique has been an awesome opportunity to combine the two aspects of work I do in global health, both the international disaster response with Team Rubicon and the emergency care capacity building,” said Dr. Noste. “The partnerships and connections with my EMS development work in Tanzania has led to a larger network to help support Team Rubicon’s work in Mozambique for the cyclone response.”
Noste said she loves “being associated with an organization that never settles for the status quo,” and Team Rubicon continues to push her to expand her ideas of disaster response, including “how we can better serve those impacted by crises.” She said she wishes “people could understand the true dedication and passion that goes into a response by the organization and the family you gain with Team Rubicon.”
Starting this summer, Noste will also serve as an EMS physician in rural and underserved El Centro, California, near the Mexican border. And in July of this year, when she leaves Carolinas for a new role at the University of California, San Diego, Noste looks forward to being to closer to Team Rubicon’s Los Angeles headquarters. “I want to introduce my new colleagues to Team Rubicon and see how we can expand our network to new emergency care physicians, advanced care practitioners, nurses and paramedics.”