University of Queensland 2024

Medical, Hue Vietnam

Jordyn is a fifth-year medic from the University of Queensland who travelled to Hue, Vietnam, for her overseas elective placement. Her main interests are obstetrics and gynaecology, but Jordyn also wanted to gain a much broader experience while in Vietnam by experiencing various areas within the hospital. 

When choosing my elective placement, I wanted an experience that would allow me to learn lessons in medicine, as well as culture and life. I felt an elective placement outside of Australia, in a country with fewer resources, would offer me an expansive learning opportunity.

By going overseas, I was introduced to the beautiful culture and people of Vietnam while learning about different approaches to medicine.

My first impression of my placement hospital in Hue was that it appeared completely different from an Australian hospital. The patient rooms were very full, and there were many family members present. 

There was different equipment and I also noticed less medical waste due to more limited resources. Despite these limited resources, the energy within the hospital was very positive.

The most important lessons I learnt while on placement were in paediatric oncology and cardiology. I hadn’t had exposure to this in Australia, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to examine cases I’d never seen before. 

I was also involved in performing CPR on a patient in Emergency. This was a valuable experience, and I now feel more confident performing this skill. 

A memorable case while in Vietnam was an unconscious patient brought into the ED. The patient was brought into the department by family members rather than by an ambulance and paramedics. The patient required resuscitation and CPR – seeing the team management and being involved in the patient’s care is an experience I will not forget. 

One of the biggest differences between the local healthcare system and the healthcare system back home was access to medical resources and the affordability of diagnostic tests. The ability to perform tests in Hue depended on the patient’s ability to pay for them.

Another major difference was that some of the equipment available in the hospital differed from what I’ve been used to seeing in Australia. The staff knowledge was very good but they would often comment that they were unable to follow some medical guidelines due to limitations of resources and equipment. 

Some evenings after placement, my housemates and I would have dinner in the city and drinks at the local bar.

The weekends were very busy. I visited places such as Hội An, Hải Vân Pass, Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay, Hà Giang, Bạch Mã National Park, Phong Nha, and Ho Chi Minh City. I loved every experience and would highly recommend visiting as many places as you can!

If you’re considering undertaking a Work the World placement, come to Vietnam with an open mind. The staff were extremely knowledgeable.

Things may have been done differently from how they were done at home, but there was usually a reason behind these differences.

Be curious and ask the hospital staff questions. Staff and patients can sometimes be shy, but they will warm to you if you put in the effort.

Embrace Vietnamese culture — it is beautiful. Travel lots and have fun. The experience is what you make it!

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