Volunteering in Vietnam – Real Hospital Experience

Posted by: Jessica

Hi, my name is Jessica and I am presently in my second year of med school in Canada. Since I love travelling and discovering new environments and cultures, I was totally excited when I heard about GoEco’s Medical Placement in Ho Chi Minh project in Vietnam. I knew this would combine perfectly my desire to explore the world and my passion for healthcare. I chose Vietnam because Asia is a continent that really fascinates me and is also very different from where I come from. I really wanted to go out of my comfort zone and I have to say my whole experience with the GoEco team was an amazing journey.

First, as soon as I arrived at the airport in Ho Chi Minh City, a coordinator welcomed me with my name written on a poster, so no confusion possible and a very easy transfer to the residencies. About the coordinators, they are always available if you have any questions and they make the best as they can to ensure that your experience is the best as possible. In Ho Chi Minh, all the volunteers stay in the dormitories of a hospitality college. For sure it is not a 5 star hotel but you really have everything you need and it is a good opportunity to build close relationships with people from all around the world! Food was also excellent! For each meal you eat at the restaurant of the Hospitality College and the students make the service. The menu changes every weak and you get to choose whatever you want on the menu. They offer Vietnamese specialties as well as more western style dishes.

The first week of the internship is called Orientation Week. During those few days, you have the opportunity to do many activities that permit you to discover Ho Chi Minh City as well as the Vietnamese culture. For example, we visited the war museum and the CuChi tunnels, we painted some fans, we had a welcoming dinner, a cooking class and many more. Those activities are a very good way of meeting the people in your group before you start your volunteering.

About my medical internship, I have to say I had absolutely no expectations. I had no idea of how the hospital would look like, how welcoming the doctors would be or what are the tasks I would have to do. However, I have to say I was 100% satisfied. Everyday they put you in a different department so you really get to learn many things. For example, you can do acupuncture and injections, physiotherapy with disabled children, X-rays, surgery and more. Personally, my favourite one was the surgery department. It was my first experience in a surgery room and I could really see everything from close. I had the chance to see many big surgeries such as bone graft, nerves reconstruction, internal fixation of broken bones and many more. The doctors are also very welcoming and love to learn more about you. They are also glad to answer any questions about their practice.

Finally, I would really recommend volunteering in Vietnam to anyone who loves travelling and discovering new cultures, and who is interested in healthcare, either with or without experience. My last month was a memorable experience and really confirmed my passion for travel and medicine.