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Volunteer Review: Valerio R., Medicine in Vietnam

We just wanted to have a good experience and learn some new knowledge, but we did much more than this! We spent four weeks in a Vietnamese hospital, in the neurosurgery department under the guidance of the best doctor ever.

Our Medicine Project

Volunteers observe at their medical placement

If you think that the first day will be an obstacle because you don’t speak Vietnamese, think again. The doctors there speak English or French and if they don’t, well it’s not a problem as there are many ways of communicating. The secret is not to be shy! Just get involved as much as you can and try being useful; you will feel like you’re at home soon enough.

However, sometimes you don’t need to talk. The very first day, we saw two operations, one spinal surgery and one facial. We immediately became friends with one of the doctors, who was 30-years-old at the time and a neurosurgeon who specialized in spinal cord surgery. He spoke great English, had studied in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, and he was going to study in the US too.

In the two or three days after arriving, we saw various operations - brain surgery mainly, which was performed by another doctor. We participated in four night shifts; the first one was actually a bit hard as we had five admissions at the hospital, and the second patient nearly vomited on us (but we had to take a shower because he hit our clothes). We only slept three hours that night, but it was worth it for the experience.

On our second night shift, Giovanni (Valerio was sick at home) had the best experience ever: a patient was admitted to the hospital in a very severe condition and had to be operated on immediately. Giovanni had the opportunity to dress properly like a surgeon, and assist the doctor by passing him all the instruments needed. Amazing, isn’t it?

X-rays at the medical placement

Our overall experience

In total, we saw more than ten operations - maybe 12 or 13. It has been an incredible experience. Putting the surgeries aside, we were always around during diagnosing, assisting patients and debating with the staff… it felt as if we were really working there! Our medical knowledge has increased incredibly and we feel like we learned much more in one month here in Vietnam than in one year at our studies. Thank you to the staff at our placement and to Projects Abroad. Good luck to you, the new volunteers!

Valerio R.

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.

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