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COLFAX — Megan Schleusner, a 2017 graduate of Colfax High School, went on a medical internship with a program called FutureDocs Abroad to Hue, Vietnam, in July and early August of 2018.
While she was in Vietnam, Megan kept a journal. Here are her journal entries from the first day and the last day of her medical internship.
Day 1: July 23, 2018
Morning Rotation — Department of Obstetrics
Afternoon Rotation — Department of Microbiology
Monday morning came fast after over 27 hours of travel time just days before. I started the first day at 6:30 a.m. in Hue’s University of Medicine and Pharmacy where we had a brief orientation before rotations at 7:30 a.m.
My first rotation was in the Obstetrics department, on the third floor of the hospital, and there was no air conditioning except in the operating room. I was assigned to group five with Viet Ha as our group leader. Ha is a fourth year nursing student at Hue’s university. She served as the translator for my group and helped to guide us to our rotations. Our group is composed of Dustin, Amanda, Nancy, Jade and I.
At 7:40 a.m., we jumped right into a debriefing with the staff team in the obstetrics department and talked about everything that was currently going on within the department and any news or events that happened on night shift.
The big concern of the meeting was the shortage of beds and the overwhelming number of patients.
Soon after the meeting, I was requested in the delivery room by one of the many physicians, but first I had to remove my shoes and socks to put on sandals. Yes, sandals. That is what every nurse and doctor wear in any procedure room and even in the operating room. While in the delivery room, I watched two natural deliveries, assisting in a variety of tasks throughout the process, including handing tools to the doctor, dressing the baby, taking measurements of the mother’s stomach before birth and feeling for proper positioning of the baby.
Over halfway through the rotation, we had a miscarriage abortion, meaning due to complications, the baby was a miscarriage and needed to be removed from the uterus. During this procedure, I just observed.
I ended my morning rotation at 11:30 a.m. after scrubbing in for a cesarean section in the operating room.
Reflecting on this rotation, I thought everything went well, and I really enjoyed my time. The only thing that went not so well was the lack of room. Hue’s medical college has over 11,000 medical students who are all rotating throughout different facilities and departments. With this being said, I was one of nine students in the delivery room with four patients in the room, five nurses and three doctors.
Our afternoon rotation was in the Microbiology department where we met with Le Van An and Nguyen Hoang Bach. We were served traditional Vietnamese green tea while we listened to a presentation for the first hour on their department, the work they do and some of the current research that is going on.
After that, I helped to mix some medias, plate some bacteria swabbed from patients and observe and record the types of bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics.
I had never done this before, but it was super cool to see that the bacteria grew closer to the antibiotics that it was resistant to than the antibiotics that it was not resistant to, which one would suspect.
After that, we were given a general tour of the entire lab space, and I was shocked to see the types of machines that they housed, some costing more than $30,000 USD, and the general cleanliness of the lab.
The part that went the best was when we ran gel using electrophorese and worked with PCR prototyping because I actually knew what I was doing.
The worst part of this rotation was that I don’t like green tea, but I had to choke it down, so I wasn’t the only one who didn’t drink it.
Overall it was a fabulous rotation, and since the students are on break in the labs, all the staff members gave us undivided attention.
August 3, 2018
Morning Rotation — Nam Dong Rural Clinic
Afternoon Rotation — Nam Dong District Hospital
Our final day of rotations was nothing like the rest, and in fact was in a different district than Hue, Nam Dong District. Nam Dong is located in a very rural spot within the mountains of Vietnam, so we had to get an early start in order to travel there, leaving at 6 a.m.
The bus ride took a little less than two hours, but then our placements at the rural health centers and clinics took even longer than expected. Each small group of five students was dropped off at a different clinic, and for ours, the bus could not travel down the narrow road, so we had to hike in about two miles.
Once at the clinic, we met with [the doctor], and he talked about the purpose of the clinic, the roles they have and how they are different from the university hospital. With about 95 percent of the people who live in that area [speaking different languages or dialects] and only five percent being traditional Vietnamese, our translators had a hard time figuring out what everyone was saying.
The physician we shadowed did not speak any English, in fact, which was frustrating at first, but we were all able to work through it with the help of locals and our translator.
The small clinic had six beds for obstetrics patients and a delivery room, two beds for natural medicine where they practiced acupuncture and herbal treatments, a garden where they grew some of the medicine plants for patients; a small pharmacy; and a traditional exam room where they mainly diagnose patients with chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
We only saw one patient, which was a typical day for this physician, and we had to travel to his house, but it was not far. Our appointment was just a routine checkup for an older man who was diagnosed with hypertension over 13 years ago and who has stabilized it with the help of medication and a change in diet. His current blood pressure was a little high when I took it at 178/60 but was good compared to his normal.
Next, we headed next door to one of the local homes where we were all invited to eat frog legs and drink a beer. Their uncle had traveled miles from the inner mountains to stay with his brother since he knew we would be in town and they had never had many visitors, much less foreigners.
While there, they showed us their outdoor kitchen where they prepped most of their meals and their animals, which were kept in their backyard. Though I had to refuse the frog legs and beer just for sanitary reasons and the fact I don’t drink, we still sat on their living room floor and enjoyed many stories together.
Our final rotation of the trip was spent at the Nam Dong District hospital, the largest healthcare facility available for those living in the mountains, but it still only had 50 beds in all.
Again, many of the employees and patients here did not speak traditional Vietnamese or English but the head of the hospital still gave a fabulous presentation with the help of a translator. After our introductions and presentation, we spent the rest of the time touring and observing the different departments they had available. They had a larger obstetric department than that of the rural clinic, this one with two tables in the delivery room. On average, they only get 50 births a year. So we did not get the opportunity to see any. However, we did get to see one patient in the recovery room who had just had a baby two days prior.
I was surprised to hear and see that the hospital did have a small operating room, but they mainly use it to operate on trauma patients, otherwise, most are sent to Hue’s University Hospital. In all, the hospital had two ambulances, two physical training and rehabilitation rooms, one specifically for kids, and a traditional medicine department.
To me, the hospital seemed nicer and cleaner compared to Hue’s University Hospital, but that is mainly due to the amount of traffic that each facility receives with Hue seeing about 60 times as many patients daily, if not more. I had no concerns or frustrations about this rotation. The best part of this experience was just the ability for myself to observe the vast differences of healthcare offered within a single country.