Foreign students seek medical experience in Vietnam

By Le Phuong    June 4, 2019 | 06:34 pm PT
Foreign students seek medical experience in Vietnam
Lepard (second R) and doctors of the Neurosurgery Department at HCMC Children's Hospital 2 discuss a case. Photo by VnExpress/Le Phuong
More foreign students and doctors are coming to study at Vietnamese hospitals in a development that benefits both sides.

For resident doctor Jacob Lepard, a regular day starts at 7 in the morning at Children’s Hospital 2 in Ho Chi Minh City, where he participates in a consultation in the Neurosurgery department and then visits patients.

Lepard then spends most of the day observing and learning about surgery in the operation room. Late in the afternoon, he gathers with his colleagues to discuss ideas of scientific papers, and to collect and process patients’ data.

This is a daily routine for Lepard, who has travelled all the way from the U.S. to study in Vietnamese hospitals.

Lepard is pursuing a residency program at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has spent four months studying in Vietnam. The American doctor said he was impressed with the tight working schedule, the crowd of patients and the diversity of diseases that Vietnamese doctors have to deal with everyday.

Lepard is among several foreign doctors seeking the knowledge and experience from Vietnamese hospitals, especially in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC received 41 foreign students in 2018, mostly medical students from the U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Hong Kong, Spain and Malaysia. They usually participate in short training courses from 1-3 months, said Dr. Ngo Duc Hiep, head of the Burn and Reconstructive Surgery Department at the Cho Ray Hospital.

"The department receives many cases of serious burn injuries requiring intensive care and surgical interventions, so foreign students have many opportunities to study in a short period of time," said Hiep.

Many foreign doctors, surgeons also come to the Tu Du hospital, one of the biggest maternity hospitals in Vietnam, to study about endoscopic surgery, in vitro fertilization, antenatal care, ultra-sound, said Nguyen Ba My Nhi, deputy director of the hospital.

Nhi said that physicians from neighboring Southeast Asian nations as well as developed countries like Australia, France or Japan also attend short courses for 1-6 months at HCMC hospitals.

The hospitals will arrange appropriate classes for them based on the student's qualifications and expectations, said Nhi.

Dang Do Thanh Can, head of Neurosurgery Department at Children's Hospital 2, explained that the diversity of diseases and qualified doctors in Vietnam can help foreign doctors learn more about major subjects.

"Vietnam has a large number of patients with a wide range of diseases, including some typical ones that are rare in developed countries," said Can.

"Here doctors have many chances to meet patients, and Vietnamese doctors are sufficiently qualified to instruct them, so many U.S. universities send doctors doing their residency or study here."  

Can himself has studied at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and so he maintains a cooperative relationship with the school. His department has sent many doctors to the U.S. and his American colleagues also regularly come to Vietnam to support and study.

Lepard is one of them. He has got the chance to experience dealing with health problems uncommon in his country.

"Neuropsychologists in Vietnam have extensive experience dealing with complex brain injuries, brain tumors, cerebrovascular malformations, cranial malformations, hydrocephalus, central nervous system infection, etc," he said. "These diseases are less common in the U.S."

Training foreign doctors helps raise the reputation of Vietnam in the international medical community, and enable Vietnamese doctors to learn from foreign colleagues on increasing the effectiveness of treatment, Can said.

In Lepard’s case, Vietnamese doctors have had two papers published in prestigious American journals while training the American student.  

Furthermore, Can said, Vietnamese doctors can improve their foreign language skills and acquire updated knowledge from doctors in developed countries.

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