I have always wanted to travel and volunteer in a different country. One day while surfing the internet, I came across a video promoting various volunteer programs. Being on my third year in Pre-med I decided to join GoEco’s Medical Placement in Ho Chi Minh project. My experience volunteering in Vietnam was absolutely wonderful –without a doubt. I got to learn a lot of things in the medical field and met some of the most amazing people from different parts of the globe.
The hospital we worked at is an Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Center. Basically, most of the patients there suffered from motorcycle accidents, work related injuries, and stroke.
The first couple of days were more of an orientation. The nurse and hospital staff taught us the proper way of doing the things we are going to do, the overview of their medical practices, and some guidelines. Every day we were assigned to a different department. However, when you are done in the area you were assigned, you were able to go to another one. Your hours of work depend on how busy the hospital is. There are times where we would go home by 2:00 pm and there were times where we would go home closer to 5:00pm.
Every morning and afternoon we would check and change the patients’ lines, change intravenous fluids, and administer IV Tube Therapy. Then, we clean extremely severe wounds in the Trauma Ward. Wounds vary from open wounds to close wounds and wounds with internal and external fixations. Afterward, we check their blood pressure. It’s funny because sometimes the family of the patients would also ask for their blood pressure to be checked. They would ask if the result is normal and we would use our phones to show them the results since some of them can’t understand English. After showing the results, we say “good” with an “ok” hand gesture then they would have a huge smile on their face.
We also shadowed the medical technologists in the laboratory but my favorite part was shadowing surgeons in the operating room. I witnessed more than 5 surgeries in one day. The surgeons showed us how to do the skin graft, internal fixation of broken bones, liposuction, and much more.
It was truly an amazing experience. The coordinators were very friendly and accommodating and I learned a lot during my stay. Even though it was crowded, overall the program was great and I would recommend it to anyone. I’ll surely miss everything about Vietnam from its rich history and culture, food, friendly students, to the patients in the hospital who kept asking me if I’m Vietnamese. I’ll especially miss the lifelong friendships I had made.If you’re planning to volunteer, I suggest you stop thinking and start booking.