My love for travel sent me to Vietnam for my first-year medical elective, and after spending four weeks in the beautiful country, I can assure you it didn’t disappoint.
At my placement hospital, I rotated around the OBGYN, oncology, surgery and radiology departments. I also had the opportunity to visit a traditional medicine clinic and the stroke ward.
A highlight was observing surgeries, as wells as washing baby after baby for 2 hours one morning!
As I expected, the hospital and healthcare were very different to that in Australia. They were not as well resourced in equipment, supplies, or staff, and the family provided all of the personal care for patients.
Patients had to share rooms with up to 20 other people in some departments, and some even had to share beds.
It gave me both a greater appreciation for the healthcare system in Australia, as well as the resilience of the Vietnamese people.
The patients were always happy, accepting of their fate, and grateful for the doctors. My blonde hair and blue eyes were very intriguing too!
Another major difference was the presentations I saw. Family doctors were not widespread in Vietnam, so most medical conditions came through the ED at the hospital.
In addition, many Vietnamese people couldn’t afford to come to the hospital, so presentations could be quite extreme and severe, very different from the milder presentations you would encounter in Australia.
The working schedule was another cultural difference I encountered, as we would start before 8am and finish by 11am, as all the staff took a 2-3 hour lunch break to go home to their families. This proved to be a great time for us to test out all the delicious coffee shops and yummy eateries in Hue!
The Work the World team were one of the highlights of my trip. From the moment we were picked up at the airport until the time came to leave our home in Vietnam, they were like family.
They were so welcoming, supportive and entertaining, and we knew we were always in good care – I was even treated to a personalised cake on my birthday!
The food was amazing, and we all wanted to bring our Work the World chef home with us!
Throughout the week, we had language lessons, cooking classes and a weekly BBQ dinner shared with all the students and Work the World team in the house. These cultural activities really enhanced the authentic Vietnamese experience.
The house was also really modern and spacious, and the pool was always lovely and refreshing after a day at the hospital.
In our spare time, we coffee-shop-hopped, restaurant-hopped and bar-hopped around Hue.
On the weekends, we visited Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Ba Na Hills, Bach Ma National Park, and Da Nang, as well as exploring more of Hue.
Vietnam is perfectly located to explore other Southeast Asian countries after your placement too!
The beautiful people and culture of Vietnam were easy to love!