The Urban Hospital Serving the Underprivileged in Vietnam

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Dr. Stephen Scholand, Site Director at Cho Ray Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Global Health Program

The global health clinical experience in Southeast Asia is largely centered on Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Cho Ray Hospital, a massive urban hospital serving the underprivileged in Vietnam, has a bed capacity exceeding three-thousand. Almost all the major branches of medical care are represented. Because of the high incidence of traffic, mainly motorcyle, accidents in the city, a significant proportion of the inpatient population is orthopaedic. The hospital also boasts very busy Emergency Medicine and Critical Care services. In fact, the volume of patients is so high that Intensive Care Units are found on a number of medical wards.

The site offers a wide range of clinical experience opportunities with many interesting and amazing patient cases to learn from. The Infectious Diseases Department is prolific, with clinical experiences that can only be found in the tropics. Dengue Fever, Typhoid, and other infectious disease challenges, along with snake bite, are well represented. In fact, an infectious disease curriculum has been developed to maximize the experience.

The Cardiology Department is another strong point of the site, as our faculty established the formal exchange program a number of years ago. A wide variety of cardiac diseases exist in the developing world, ranging from acute rheumatic fever and other valvular diseases to congenital anomalies never diagnosed due to the limitations of preventive health care.

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Cho Ray Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

In addition to the plethora of clinical learning opportunities, the Vietnamese faculty at Cho Ray are friendly and helpful. Given that the rotation is characterized by high volume with significant acuity, some clinical independence is encouraged to emphasize the important learning points. The potential of this site is phenomenal and the interested student or resident should expect to encounter and experience a multitude of exceptional learning cases. Participants are expected to significantly enhance their clinical skills while still having access to diagnostic labs and advanced technology.

Spending time in Vietnam will not only allow immersion in Vietnamese culture, but will also open the mind to the major tenets of global health. Expect to nurture compassion for others and develop valuable insights into patient problems in the setting of significant health inequalities.

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