Wow, what a place Vietnam was. So incredibly beautiful and there were such amazing experiences on offer. Not only in Hue where you are based for placement, but I also travelled to Da Nang, Hoi An, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City which were all amazing and I would highly recommend visiting.
When I arrived, I was stunned at how beautiful the Work the World house was and how warm all of the staff were on our arrival - it definitely made us feel more at home when our real homes were on the other side of the world.
I really didn’t know what to expect during our tour of the hospital on our first day. In some ways it’s so similar to our services and procedures back home, yet in other aspects, it’s worlds apart. There’s no doubt that the training the nurses and doctors undergo is the same, if not harder, than ours back home.
I spent a week in general surgery where I shadowed the nurses on the ward and observed the doctors in the operating theatres too. I found that the nurses in Hue did not have as many responsibilities around the care of patients as we do back home in the UK. Their main responsibilities are the administration of drugs and wound care, whereas a nurse in the UK is also responsible for carrying out personal care and making sure all outpatients are fed and their beds are changed. The reason why the nurses are less involved in this side of care is due to the fact that patients’ families play such a huge role and carry out these basic needs - there is certainly no such thing as visiting times in Vietnamese hospitals as families are there 24/7.
I also spent a week in A&E. The main thing that shocked me about their emergency department was the way that patients just walk in and lay down on a bed and a doctor is there within seconds.
I found that procedures attempting to be aseptic were carried out with such care, although the biggest difference compared to our services in the UK is that all of our equipment is single use, whereas in Vietnam equipment is reused due to the cost of materials.
To anyone going to Vietnam, I would really recommend making friends with some of the medical students. They’re not hard to find as they make up the majority of people working in hospitals. They can really help you with translating and communicating with patients and other medical team members as a lot of their lectures are taught in English and they love the opportunity to learn more.
There were always things to do in the evenings at the Work the World house if you didn’t want to go out and explore the town, from cooking classes to language lessons and BBQ nights. The food was amazing every single night, cooked by the amazing chef using fresh ingredients from the markets each day.
One weekend I travelled to Hoi An and spent a couple of nights there which I would highly recommend as it was so beautiful by the river. I also went on the coconut tour and travelled along the Hai Van Pass which has such picturesque views.
Myself and a friend I travelled with visited the abandoned water park which was so eerie, but such good fun. The local beaches are stunning too, so I would definitely say you need to visit them!
Hanoi was very touristy but we were only there for one night as we booked a trip to Ha Long Bay. Oh my goodness that is 100% something you cannot miss if you travel to Hue for your placement. That was the highlight of the trip for me and was so amazing on the boat meeting new people and taking on new challenges like kayaking, squid fishing and making spring rolls.
If anyone has any doubts about going on an overseas placement then please throw your doubts in the bin. This will be something you will remember forever and not only will you find new friends, but you will also find out different things about yourself as you’re faced with all sorts of challenges and experiences.
The cost of the trip can seem a little daunting, but I found so many people wanted to help me out and were so generous when they found out it was for such an amazing, once in a lifetime experience. Once you’re out there, in Hue, everything is crazy cheap! When sharing a taxi with the other girls in the house the average cost was 20p per trip, per person. A huge bowl of noodles and spring rolls with a cocktail was an average of £6.
This was the best thing I have ever done, thank you so much to everyone at Work the World for making this possible. Unbelievable.