Students from Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q), a Qatar Foundation partner university, gained an international perspective of healthcare when they visited Vietnam as part of a Global Health Service Learning Program (GHSLP).
Ten first-year pre-medical students spent 12 days in Ho Chi Minh City, where they volunteered at the Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital; worked with special needs children in a daycare center; learned about treatment modalities in Vietnamese healthcare; and observed basic health checks, patient care, and hospital duties conducted by healthcare teams.
The students also learned about Vietnamese culture and history, as well as reflecting on what it means to be a global citizen and a healthcare professional in a world where many people are without access to high-quality healthcare.
The program, which offers a unique global health learning opportunity, is directed by Dr. Rachid Bendriss, Assistant Dean, Student Recruitment, Outreach, and Foundation programs, and Dr. Sohaila Cheema, Director of WCM-Q’s Institute of Population Health, which organized the GHSLP.
“Visiting Vietnam was a powerful and enriching experiential learning opportunity for the students,” said Dr. Cheema. “They got to experience the unique Vietnamese culture and to discover how that culture affects the way healthcare is delivered. Additionally, the program allows the students to develop a sense of civic engagement and a global perspective.”
In the Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, the students observed basic healthcare duties like taking blood pressure measurements, mixing medicines, and removing acupuncture needles, under the supervision of trained professionals. They also observed physicians cleaning and dressing wounds, repairing fractured bones and damaged nerves, and using massage and other physiotherapy techniques to relieve pain and increase range of motion in patients’ joints. In the daycare center, they worked closely with children with cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and ADHD, helping out at mealtimes and keeping the children entertained with games and songs.
In addition, the students learned about some of the healthcare challenges facing Vietnam, a lower-middle income country, which includes a high incidence of motorcycle accidents, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
Student Hiba Naveed found the experience inspiring, saying: “The system itself, despite so much noise and clustering, did not seem haphazard at all. It seemed as though the informality of the hospital was an aid in its own way.
“There was never a dull moment and this seemed integral to the healing process of the patients.”
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